HSBC has been under the hammer for several weeks now, as people have waited—expectantly—for news of what "completely overhauled" might actually mean. Then, late last week, the picture started to come into view: Several changes in the boardroom were announced.
The headline implies a wholesale change, but the reality that seems to be emerging is somewhat different: it turns out that the promised overhaul might actually just be a shuffle. Consider this:
I'm staggered. According to the Merriam–Webster dictionary, to overhaul something is to "to look at every part of (something) and repair or replace the parts that do not work". By extension, a complete overhaul is to repair or replace the entire system. The people I spoke with in the UK and the EU last week were consistent in their expectations: that many directors should be replaced with directors untainted by the failures of governance that have occurred. HSBC has a proud tradition, but a new start is needed. Sadly, this does not seem to be happening. The promised complete overhaul seems to be just a shuffling of roles—musical chairs if you will.
How confident can or should investors and account holders be after hearing of these changes? A damp squib might be a more appropriate description of the proposed changes, but that wouldn't sell many newspapers or engender much confidence would it?
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.