HSBC phones home; which bank is next?

HSBC responds to yesterday's column. P.S. I could use a new toaster.

WASHINGTON, August 11, 2011— In an incredibly impressive and professional move, a senior HSBC executive called me yesterday. The call followed my column that poked fun at the bank’s decision to leave my area, surprisingly soon after building new branches here.

Mayra DiRico is the “Executive Vice President and Regional President for HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Mayra oversees the Metro New York North Region, which includes Queens, the Bronx, Westchester, Asian Market Branches, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida.”

(I put this in quotes because normally my sentences don’t include that many nouns, and I want to be sure you know I swiped that description off the Web.)

Not only did Mayra notice the article and take the time to call me, but she also recognized that I am an HSBC customer. Part of her intention was to reassure me that my branch wasn’t closing, although many branches in surrounding towns will be disappearing.

We had a good conversation, and each gained a bit of sympathy for the other’s position. Hint: Democrats and Republicans, you could do this, too, before we have to sell Cleveland to raise money for Medicare.

In fairness, the people who come up with global companies’ catchy slogans (HSBC = The World’s Local Bank) aren’t the same people at a bank who realize: we are losing a boatload of money so let’s sell some branches. Some well-meaning copywriter had no idea he was making what turned out to be false promises to scores of people in upstate New York

Mayra clearly feels a great deal of empathy for both the customers and employees impacted by HSBC’s recent decisions to shutter some branches and sell others. She seems to be a true professional.

The fact remains that you can’t have a relationship with a global firm the way you can with another person or with a truly local business. Global firms make global moves. They make economic decisions, not personal ones. They can’t support personal relationships.

Citibank, I really like this toaster…

That is, unless you consider a personal relationship to be hanging out with an accounting statement.

I wonder how many other banking executives pay as much attention to their customers and markets as Mayra does? 

If I ask here why Wells Fargo still sometimes uses a stage coach in their ads, will an executive call to explain that in certain parts of the world, that’s still how the bank moves money from branch to branch? (Wells Fargo customers - don’t panic! - I’m kidding.)

What about if I drop Citibank’s name and mention I have a real need for a free toaster, will one show up on my doorstep?

I think not. But just in case, my address is in your files.

Bruce Kasanoff writes about the lighter side of business, technology and politics at Also find him on Twitter: NowPossible or LinkedIn: Bruce Kasanoff

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Bruce Kasanoff


Bruce Kasanoff helps companies act smarter, and treat their customers better. He takes a break every now and then to encourage politicians to treat their constituents better.

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