HSBC AGM Response

  It has been a while since we last spoke regarding the Midland Clawback Campaign so following on from the HSBC AGM on Friday 24th April, we thought that this was a good time to catch up with you all on our view on the HSBC responses . . .

Our planned activities around the AGM were cancelled as this years AGM was held behind closed doors due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation. We did however manage yet again to have a resolution included in the AGM – Resolution 18 calling for the removal of Clawback and while the resolution did not pass we did gain 282,143,316 votes, which equated to just over 3% of the voters, an improvement on last year.

Given the present situation that was a remarkable achievement – thank you.

The campaign did submit several questions to the AGM relating to our requisitioned resolution and the Board chose to answer four of them. You can view HSBC published responses to all of the AGM questions and the ones relating to the Clawback Campaign specifically, which are on page 5 and 6 (see link to HSBC document below).

HSBC’s answers have added further fuel to the fire as they are not entirely accurate shall we say! We have issued a rebuttal below and have also asked Dominic Hook UNITE national officer for Finance for his support and input.

Further action is now being considered and we will update you in due course

Thank you for your continued support

Sharon McGeough-Adams

Image source: HSBC

Our view on HSBC Responses

Why did HSBC oppose the shareholder requisitioned resolution?

HSBC statement includes the phrase “the scheme was a final salary non-contributory scheme up to 30 June 2009”.

This is not entirely true.

Whilst members did not pay directly into the scheme, they were paid a lower salary with the proviso that Midland/HSBC would then also pay for their pension scheme as part of an overall package. Members therefore paid for the pension indirectly by taking a lower salary. HSBC also gained by using this method of course because future pensions would be based on the lower salary.


How can you suggest that the State Deduction is moral/ethical?

The State Deduction might seem to impact lower earning employees, many of whom are female, but is not discriminatory in nature”. HSBC now admits that Clawback does indeed affect the lowest paid who are mostly women the most.

There is no “might” about it!

How was the effect of the State Deduction communicated?

Again, HSBC repeat their standard response that there have been several guides issued since it was introduced in 1975.

Whilst the Pension Trustees may well have copies of these guides at their disposal we still maintain these did not reach everyone at branch level.

There are still people now discovering our Campaign who were totally unaware of Clawback and what will be deducted from their pensions at State Pension Age. How can so many people be unaware of Clawback if as HSBC maintain it was communicated properly? The name “State Deduction” as we have always maintained has also clouded the issue as it implies a State rather than a Bank deduction.

How are you engaging with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)

HSBC’s reply to this question caused the most anger amongst our campaign members.  HSBC dismissively state “The EHRC have not commenced any formal proceedings and none are pending”.

Whilst this is maybe ‘technically’ correct the EHRC are currently considering our claim for inequality and it does not mean that the EHRC will not be moving onto formal proceedings in the future.

Similarly HSBCs response to the APPG is somewhat wide of the truth! Ian Stuart HSBC CEO did not meet with a number of MP’s from the APPG as stated.

He declined to meet the APPG saying he would send a representative and requested a list of the questions in advance. Ian Stuart only agreed to meet with Clive Betts Chair of the APPG but it had to be without any committee members. The final statement that there is no APPG in place that is looking at the State Deduction is an unprofessional statement to make. The only reason why there is no APPG as HSBC are fully aware of is because our APPG along with all others had to be dissolved at the General Election.

We had arranged a meeting to reform the APPG on March 24th 2020 and had a lot of MP support but again because of the Coronavirus situation all meetings at the Houses of Parliament were cancelled. It was not due to lack of support.


Colin’s Response

I have copied below the response from Colin Denny, Midland Clawback Chair, to Ian Stuart HSBC UK CEO in regard to the comments made at the AGM. I feel it sums up the mood quite nicely. WE are furious!


Whilst I’m chair of the clawback campaign you will appreciate I rarely bother you.

However, I was surprised and upset to read the Q&A publication re AGM questions today following shareholders not being able to attend the AGM due to Coronavirus procedures (copy attached for benefit of the other recipients of this email – pages 5 & 6 being relevant re clawback).

EG “might seem to impact lower earning employees” – when there’s clearly no “might” about it!

However, I was particularly shocked & disappointed to read the final sentence “There is currently no APPG in place that is looking at the State Deduction”!

I appreciate this is technically correct, but that is purely due to the old APPG being dissolved due to the General Election and Covid-19 causing us to cancel a scheduled meeting in March for the APPG’s relaunch.

Clive Betts (copied) had agreed to remain our chair of the newly formed APPG and we had plenty of MP’s new & old lined up to support its re-creation.

I really do not understand why it was necessary to claim there’s no current APPG, but I can assure you we intend to reform an APPG asap & will now explore if the parliamentary process can be completed via Zoom or similar during the social distancing requirements.

I hope the HSBC response will help re-invigorate our members and hopefully by next year we will be able to attend the AGM and raise further resolutions to highlight the disparate impact clawback has on the lower paid, mainly women members of the pension scheme.

You can view the HSBC response by clicking on the link below and look in particular at their responses on page 5 and 6.

HSBC Response

You can read the HSBC formal response on the HSBC Investor page