COVID-19: Our commitment
to supporting our clients

Important information and updates

Q: What measures have you implemented to ensure the Covid crisis in India doesn't impact HSBC's ability to serve its clients around the world?

  • Our first priority and concern is the well-being of our staff and customers.
  • We are committed to helping our customers, colleagues and communities through the pandemic, using our high operational resilience and openness to new business tools and practices to support customers.
  • Our contingency plans include split-site operation and homeworking capabilities to deal with potential situations at our service locations, and business continuity procedures will be activated as needed.
  • In addition, a large number of our processing functions are performed at our network of City Office sites around the globe so that potential impact on our day-to-day operation can be minimised in the event of disruptions at a particular location.

Q: Does HSBC have a Pandemic plan to contain the spread of an infectious disease and cope with potential mass absenteeism?

  • HSBC has an overarching Group Communicable Disease Plan which is aligned to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
  • In support of the Group Communicable Disease Plan, each country has its own Business Continuity Plan (overseen locally by a Major Incident Group) that supports the local response to a communicable disease outbreak and caters for mass absenteeism.
  • All planning and response activity is coordinated globally through an integrated global Incident Management command and control structure.

Q: How will the current situation impact HSBC in terms of operations?

  • We are monitoring the situation closely and potential impacts are escalated through the Incident Management command and control structure which is used to initiate local and global responses and to drive any beneficial changes to our existing plans and capabilities.
  • We have contingency plans including extensive homeworking capabilities, split-site operations and work transfer. Business continuity procedures have been or are being activated as needed.
  • A large number of our processes are performed across our network of sites around the globe, so any potential impact on our day-to-day operation can be minimised in the event of disruptions at a particular location.

Q: What are some of the precautionary measures being taken across your network?

  • Please note that each location may deploy different set of measures as determined by its local situation and requirements.
  • Operational contingencies include:
    • Extensive homeworking
    • Split-site operation
    • Work transfer to other locations
  • Hygiene:
    • Frequently touched surfaces and common shared items and floors are being cleaned regularly
    • Should we become aware of a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in our premises, we would follow health authority instructions and initiate deep cleaning in the affected areas, including common areas, likely to have been used by the individual
    • Suspected / confirmed case management is in place
  • Travel Risk Management:
    • Travel restrictions and self-quarantine guidance have been put in place
    • Travel is by exception only and requires approval from the Group Executive Committee.

Q: What self-quarantine guidance do we have in place?

  • General guidance is to self-quarantine and work from home for a period of 14 days if colleagues have travelled anywhere internationally in the past fortnight, or if they have had close contact with someone who has travelled internationally over that time.
  • Employees must notify their line manager and Human Resources and follow advice from their local health authority. 
  • If employees have had "close contact" (defined as physical contact, or sitting within two metres for more than 15 minutes) with someone confirmed or suspected as having the illness they must report it to their line manager, contact Human Resources and self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of close contact if the confirmed or suspected person was showing symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of the close contact. Suspected cases are those where the employee has symptoms of COVID-19 and/or is being tested by the health authority.
  • This requirement applies to HSBC employees, contractors, vendor staff, consultants, and those on assignment to HSBC

Q: How do you continue to service client needs, including trading in the secondary markets, during a national lockdown scenario?

  • It depends on the nature of the lockdown but, in the cases witnessed so far in Europe, critical staff are permitted to travel to work locations.
  • In Global Markets, we have a significant proportion of traders and salespeople working from home in the UK, Europe, the US and MENAT and are building the technical capability for the whole team to be able to do so, including expanding the bandwidth available and taking measures to prioritise access for functions that are the most crucial for servicing client needs and managing the bank's risks.
  • In Asia, we have had a proportion of traders and salespeople working from home for some time.
  • For traders to be able to work from home we need to ensure they are fully compliant with all regulatory requirements while doing so.
  • In London, we aim, while possible, to retain a core group of traders in our 8CS office and back-up site in Southwark to ensure continuity of service in case of connectivity issues for people working from home and to more easily handle market-making during fast markets, for example. In most countries with lockdowns, traders and salespeople are viewed as key or critical workers and can continue to travel into work.
  • If we need to, we can also switch trading to our other trading hubs in Europe or elsewhere in the world. Some markets, such as FX and equity derivatives, already operate on a 'follow the sun' model in which the trading book passes around the world during the trading day. However, for other national markets (e.g. UK gilts), it is likely, in that scenario, that the other hub would focus solely on managing the bank's risk and that of clients with the greatest needs – ie those clients for whom we are their sole banking relationship.
  • For liquidity and cash management:
    • Our digital platforms such as HSBCnet and HSBC Connect offer clients a fast, simple and secure way to run their business remotely, either online or via mobile.
    • We are accelerating the deployment of new digital capabilities to make it even simpler for clients to move money when out of the office – enabling more clients to log-on via mobile authentication, use their phones to pay cheques, and provide documents online instead of paper copies.
    • We are also advising and alerting clients to increased fraud risks as businesses adopt new working practices – helping to prevent clients from becoming victims of business email compromise and phishing scams. For more details, visit:  

Q: How are we measuring the ongoing impact of the virus to HSBC?

  • Daily incident management meetings to assess and respond to the evolving situation.
  • Monitoring of announcements by governments and local health authorities is conducted and factored into decision-making processes.

Q: With employees working split-site and from home, please share if you have faced any disruption so far?

  • We have not seen any major operational issues and continue to deliver services to clients as normal.

Q: How is the risk of supplier failures due to the COVID-19 outbreak being managed?

  • We are monitoring the situation with critical third parties closely.
  • Where necessary contingency arrangements are being prepared.
  • Any vendor issues will be managed through the global incident command and control structure.
  • So far we have not identified any significant issues disrupting a supplied service to HSBC or our clients.

Q: How sustainable is the COVID-19 response?

  • We are monitoring service, quality and employee morale across the network and taking actions as needed to ensure the continued welfare of employees and the delivery of services to our clients.
  • We are currently delivering all services and meeting our quality guidelines, and all indications are that we can continue to meet internal and external expectations given the worst case disruption projections.
  • If any issue impacting our ongoing obligations emerge these will be escalated through the Incident Management team to ensure they get appropriate management attention and actions are taken to avoid any future issues. 

Q: Could you give guidance as to what would need to happen for services to be materially disrupted? For example, if governments implement more stringent restrictions on movement, postal services etc?

  • The current situation is discussed at regular incident management meetings to monitor developments and to coordinate and direct actions across the bank's global network.
  • So far, we have not seen any major operational issues and continue to deliver services to clients as normal.

Q: What information will be used to decide the time is right to return to the workplace?

  • Country epidemiological status (case rates).
  • The Government and Public Health authority response status/alert level, healthcare system capacity, monitoring capability (testing and tracing), lifting of the necessary restrictions and reopening of services (transport, schools, social care).
  • Employee case rates.
  • Availability of PPE and all necessary cleaning stocks.
  • Preparation of buildings for the phased return to work.
  • Coordination with dependent offshore teams.

Q: When will clients and other visitors be able to meet in your offices?

  • We will only reintroduce meetings with clients and other visitors at our buildings when we feel it is safe for them and our employees and when it is consistent with national health policies and requirements.

Q: Will personal protective equipment be made available to anyone in your facilities?

  • HSBC will provide face masks for employees and clients if it is mandatory to wear them in the workplace for the country/region you are in.

Q: Have you furloughed or made staff redundant? What impact will this have on agreed service level agreements?

  • We continually work to ensure we have appropriate levels of staffing and other resources to most effectively service client needs and that has not changed through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Q: What changes, if any, have you made to your operational models to adapt to the pandemic, and how will this affect your business, product and/or service delivery to clients?

  • We have worked to ensure there has been as little disruption in our service to clients as possible. When the pandemic emerged, we initiated well-practised contingency measures globally.
  • These measures have included extensive homeworking by employees and the operation of split sites for critical workers who need to be in one of our workplaces.
  • We have also had the ability to move some critical client servicing responsibilities to different countries or regions, if required.

Q: Are the financial pressures created by the pandemic for firms and the economy more generally creating any other changes or issues in your business that we should be aware of?

  • Some of our clients will be struggling from the massive disruption to their businesses that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of lockdown measures around the world. This has created opportunities for us to help them in a number of ways, from financing, access to capital markets, advisory services and help with potential restructuring needs.

Q: Will health screenings be performed?

  • Medical screening of employees will be carried out where mandated by local authorities.
  • If employees feel unwell they are asked to inform their line manager and stay at home. If they have symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 they should notify Human Resources (which they can do simply and quickly from our intranet site) and follow advice from their local health authority.

Q: Will zones be utilised within the offices or have you established other physical distancing measures? If so, please describe.

  • We already ensure physical distancing in all our buildings where this is required by local government and health authority guidelines.
  • We have used the appropriate signage, floor markings, one-way systems and clear instructions to ensure we meet these guidelines.

Q: Please describe the cadence and process for cleaning and disinfecting your facilities.

  • At a minimum all HSBC occupied spaces will be cleaned daily.
  • The frequency of disinfectant cleaning of the workplace will depend on the level of risk. Cleaning will be more frequent for locations where community transmission remains widespread, and less frequent for locations where public health authority statistics are showing that community transmission is minimal. Cleaning focuses on high contact points within the workplace to reduce the risk of transmission.

Q: Please describe your policy on visitors and third party access to your facilities.

  • We will allow clients and visitors into our buildings when we judge it is safe for them and for our employees to do so. This will be decided on a country-by-country basis and be in line with local government and health authority guidance.
  • If social distancing measures are in place, where possible, we will operate a pre-booking system for visitors to arrive at our buildings only at allocated times.

Q: Have you established an exposure response plan? If so, please describe.

  • We will remain alert to the risk of infection rates rising again in different countries and may pause our phased process of returning to the workplace. The respective national government and public health authority may also re-introduce lockdown measures and we will comply with those.
  • If employees feel unwell they are asked to inform their line manager, stay at home and, if they have symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 they should notify Human Resources (which they can do simply and quickly from our intranet site) and follow advice from their local health authority.

Q: Will employee tracing be conducted to the extent necessary? If so, please describe the manner in which this will be conducted and how this will apply to visitors.

  • Contact tracing systems may be introduced by national governments to detect, monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19. We expect employees and visitors to our buildings to comply with the rules and implementation of these systems.

Q: Please describe any restrictions that will be in place or will continue with respect to business travel.

  • All international business travel currently requires Group Executive Committee approval and is reviewed on a regular basis. We will, in consultation with our travel security providers, monitor country government and health authority advice on international travel before any travel restrictions are lifted.

Q: How have you informed your employees of your Return to Office plan, including any new processes and practices with which they will have to comply? Will training or other notices and information be provided to establish best practices for your employees and to provide updated information regarding any changes to company policies and procedures?

  • We have undertaken regular communications with employees on a country-by-country basis but also by global business lines to inform them of our processes for returning to the workplace, including the triggers for doing so, and the progress being made in each country.
  • These communications have provided detail on the new measures being introduced in our buildings to ensure the safety of employees and visitors, including in relation to signage, floor markings, one-way systems and use of communal facilities.

Q: What additional steps/measures are you taking to enable people to continue to work remotely if they are unable or uncomfortable with the Return to Office plan?

  • We understand this is an anxious and worrying time for many employees and we are encouraging them to discuss any concerns with their line manager, or if they feel unable to do so, should seek advice from our Human Resources department.
  • We have equipped managers with office recovery planning guidance, designed to help Managers prepare teams to come back to the workplace – taking into account personal circumstances and business guidance as they do. This includes prioritising who comes back first, and encourages conversations about personal circumstances and their comfort levels in returning to the office – and options for continued remote working where possible.
  • Most of our staff are currently working from home and have been able to do so thanks to a huge amount of work on the part of our Business Continuity and Technology teams who have allowed us to continue serving our clients efficiently.
  • Our employees may be working from home for an extended period of time and some of them may not feel they have adequate equipment to let them do so in a comfortable or healthy way. To remedy this, we have delivered certain equipment from our buildings to employees’ homes or let them expense the cost of buying some new equipment.

Q: Have you developed a process for reporting any questions or concerns regarding the health and safety of your employees and a plan for addressing and responding to these?

  • We already have a robust process for employees to raise concerns about their health and safety, including anonymously. All these concerns are followed up and addressed directly with the individual.
  • We understand this is an anxious and worrying time for many employees and we are encouraging them to discuss any concerns with their line manager, or if they feel unable to do so, to seek advice from our Human Resources department.
  • A wellbeing survey was sent to all employees to help identify key areas of concern and help shape prioritisation of resource development.
  • We have created a suite of wellbeing support material across a range of topics including support for parents, stress and anxiety, mindfulness, and building supportive environments.
  • Employee assistance providers are available in every country and regular communications are being issued to promote these.