The UK's HSBC (NYSE: HBC) will invest to capture wealth creation opportunities in its most significant markets and centers of economic development, such as Latin America, group CEO Stuart Gulliver said.
"The phenomenal wealth being created in faster-growing economies opens up huge opportunities to build wealth management and private banking businesses in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East," Gulliver said at the group's annual shareholders meeting held in London on Friday (May 27).
In early May, the executive announced a global US$2.5bn-3.5bn cost-cutting plan, which includes reallocating capital from less strategic and underperforming businesses as well as looking for organic growth in its strategic regional markets of Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
The plan also considers selling assets or downsizing in other Latin American countries where results have not met expectations, such as Chile, Colombia and some Central American countries.
Latin America represented 11% of HSBC's US$4.91bn global pretax profits in 1Q11.
To read Gulliver's and group chairman Douglas Flint's prepared remarks, in English, go to this link
Management also answered questions from shareholders, most of them related to the group's remuneration policies, including the increase in executive directors' pay and bonus awards.
Management disclosed salary hikes paid to Flint, Gulliver, and Sandy Flockhart, HSBC chairman for Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and the group's commercial banking division and chairman of HSBC Bank.
"On appointment... the salary for A A Flockhart was increased to 975,000 British pounds [nearly US$1.7mn today], with effect from 1 January 2011," a transcript from the session reads.
Flockhart was appointed to the job on January 1 this year and was relocated from Hong Kong to London.
When asked what HSBC was doing to support microfinance, management said it worked with partners "to offer financial services to customers who fall under the radar of the traditional banking model."
"We support microfinance institutions in Asia and Latin America, empowering individuals to gain financial independence and help their communities prosper," the transcript reads.
To read the question and answer session's transcript, go to this link