In Focus

Will more Asian banks move their tech-focussed teams into funkier offices?

HSBC moved its digital innovation team away from its traditional office in Hong Kong.

The days of the bowler hatted and briefcase toting banker may be long gone, but at least everyone still shows up for work on time as they stride into the great banking edifices in Central Hong Kong. Alas that morning sight too is now under threat as a new generation of tech driven bankers is demanding to work in cool start up spaces complete with fussball tables and presumably a dog or cat roaming the corridors. So how is a bank to mesh the free spirited tech wizards of the future with the stuffy three piece suited boardroom environment that typifies banking in Hong Kong?

In HSBC’s case it has decided to move its entire digital innovation team into one of those trendy co-working or flexible work spaces that are mushrooming in Hong Kong. The bank has leased two floors comprising 400 desks from WeWork in the 535 Tower in Causeway Bay, a most unusual location for a bank. But as Colliers analyst Zac Tang notes, the move by HSBC follows the industry trend of large financial institutions establishing innovative technology-focussed teams away from their traditional office space in order to benefit from the unique culture and work environment offered by these operators.

In the US and Europe, banks such as Barclays, Citi, Mitsubishi UFJ and RBS have set up centres outside their main operations aiming to attract new technologically aware talent and to allow staff to work in a more creative setting. And HSBC is by no means alone in opting to outsource its offices. Indeed, HSBC’s decision could well mark the beginning of a trend in Asia. 

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