So now we know who will replace Douglas Flint as the top of HSBC’s board table. Mark Tucker, presently the chief exec of Asian insurer AIA and formerly boss of Prudential, will become the bank’s chairman in October, and he’ll have plenty on his plate.
Like most of the high street banks, HSBC is still doing its best to claw back the ground it has lost since the financial crisis. With interest rates stuck at rock-bottom, the banks have all had to tighten their belts in recent years as they’ve struggled to turn a profit from lending money. Last year HSBC’s profits fell by more than 60% despite cost-cutting efforts.
They’ve all been dogged by reputational problems too – in HSBC’s case that includes allegations of laundering cash for Mexican drug cartels, breaking sanctions on Iran, Libya and Sudan and controversy over tax avoidance at its private banking division in Switzerland.
Tucker will lead the task of finding a replacement for the bank’s chief exec Stuart Gulliver, who plans to retire next year (candidates reportedly in the frame at the moment include Lloyds boss António Horta-Osório and internal execs Antonio Simoes and John Flint).
But how much do you know about his career to date? Tucker has spent most of his career in insurance, but he started out in a very different industry: football. He played professionally for Wolves, Barnet and Rochdale before choosing the much more glamorous career path of an accountant.
After joining Prudential in 1986 he was mentored by the firm’s late former boss Mick ‘The Bruiser’ Newmarch. He later spent 9 years running the insurer’s Asian division – experience which will surely come in handy for heading up the eastern-focused HSBC.
Tucker’s only prior experience in banking was 11 months as the finance director of the ill-faited HBOS, which fell into the clutches of Lloyds Banking Group at the height of the financial crisis. In March 2005 he returned to the Prudential as chief executive, where he stuck around for four years.
For most of the time since he’s been running AIA, an Asian insurer that was spun out of the troubled AIG in 2009 and floated on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange the following year. The company has soared since, its profits growing by 50% and its share price more than doubling.
‘He’s got great integrity and he’s got a laser focus in the things that make a difference in the business to consumers,’ a former colleague gushed to the FT. ‘He’s not into corporate-speak and PowerPoint presentations. He wants to have real conversations about the business and he wants to hear the truth, good or bad.’ (Perhaps they were hoping to land a non-executive directorship on HSBC's board?),
Tucker’s other appointments have included a spell as a member of the Court of the Bank of England, and he currently sits on the board of Goldman Sachs, a role he will relinquish to take up HSBC’s chairmanship. He is also an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and serves on the Asia Business Council and the advisory board of the Asia Global Institute.
While he may not be a pro anymore, Tucker’s love of football has endured. According to Reuters he spent his 50th birthday with black eyes and a broken nose after being headbutted on the pitch the night before. He’ll be hoping to avoid such scuffles in HSBC’s boardroom.