HSBC drives forward IT standardisation as profits plummet

HSBC is making progress on a massive IT and process standardisation programme, which aims to improve the bank’s efficiency.

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HSBC is making progress on a massive IT and process standardisation programme, which aims to improve the bank’s efficiency.

The move is an important part of its ongoing strategy, the bank said as it reported operating profits had freefallen 62 percent last year to $9.3 billion (£6.6 billion).

The bank said it had “constrained costs”, adding: “We also continued implementation of OneHSBC, our programme to enhance customer experience and improve cost efficiency through standardising products, processes and technology around the world.”

Last year, HSBC brought its operations in France, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Brunei, Chile and Indonesia onto common platforms, and work has begun in India. Globally, HSBC uses SAP enterprise resource planning software extensively.

Efficiency “will be enhanced by taking full advantage of local, regional and global economies of scale, in particular by adopting a common systems architecture wherever possible”, HSBC stated. This would also help with central control and governance, it said.

The bank said it was implementing “systems-based processes to ensure consistent application of [risk] policies” to monitor the sustainable development of customers it lends to. The use of more consistent processes would also help it cut costs and improve management information “to measure and report on the effect of HSBC’s lending and investment activities”, it said.

One of the key measures of IT performance used by the bank is the number of transactions it processes. Self-service transactions “increased as a result of the redesign of the Group’s distribution network and the continuing rollout of One HSBC”, it said, identifying this as a positive outcome with staff required to manually assist far fewer transactions.

In 2008, HSBC processed 2.5 billion cash machine transactions and nearly 500 million internet transactions.

In Europe, the bank said, 98 percent of its IT services hit performance targets. These targets include factors such as systems running 99.9 percent of the time and credit card authorisations being processed within two seconds.

In order to improve its focus on cost cutting, HSBC recently combined the roles of chief information officer and chief operating officer, appointing existing CIO Ken Harvey to the post.

Last September, HSBC said it will cut five hundred UK jobs at its investment banking division. A large proportion of the cuts are expected to be back office and processing work as well as IT functions.

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