HSBC Expat, formerly HSBC International, is the offshore banking arm of the HSBC Group and is wholly owned by HSBC Holdings PLC.
It is focused on providing offshore solutions and cross border services to expatriates and migrants.
HSBC Expat originated from the business started by Midland Bank and is based in the Channel Islands.
HSBC Expat offers personal banking solutions to expats through multi-currency international bank accounts.
Based in Jersey, HSBC Expat offers a secure jurisdiction which is well regulated being a member of the EU's Third Anti-Money Laundering Directive and full signatory to the IOSCO Multilateral Treaty.
The key benefit of HSBC’s Expat offering is to make it easier for clients to keep home bank accounts and foreign bank accounts under ‘the same roof’, notionally allowing for ease of access and monitoring.
Unlike many banks, HSBC makes a considerable effort to specialise in providing expat bank accounts to the mainstream expat marketplace.
HSBC claims to offer international tax advice - although this is not bespoke, rather through their public website on which tax advice per country has been published in cooperation with Ernst & Young.
HSBC also offer a branded version of the Ernest and Young global tax navigator which is of potential interest to many expats.
Banking offshore with HSBC requires a £100 set up fee, a minimum balance of £25,000 (or zero set up and £60,000 minimum for Premier customers). Falling below the minimum incurs a charge of between £15 and £35 per month.
Withdrawals on cards will be subject to 2.75% exchange rate adjustment if in an alternative currency.
Transfers to other banks costs between £30 and £35, even online.
International current accounts are offered in sterling, euro and US dollars, and international savings accounts in a choice of 19 currencies.
HSBC offers UK mortgages to international clients, providing a range of fixed and variable rate mortgages as well as buy-to-let mortgages, and whilst rates may be competitive, it often pays to shop around and compare providers.
For investors, the HSBC Expat service may incur charges significantly higher than clients anticipate.
Investors are guided towards HSBC products and portfolios which are often white labelled versions of other insurance based products reviewed in this section of our website.
For example, the HSBC International Wealth Build Account is simply a white-labelled Zurich Vista!
Amazon best selling author, Andrew Hallam dissects this white labelled for banks product here. We have strong reservations about these types of investment products too.
In general, we are surprised that HSBC refers business to insurance-based platforms when it is normally more flexible and cheaper for clients to manage their investments on a banking platform.
Investors on this platform should be particularly sensitive to product fees: like many banks operating in the ‘retail space’, clients are encouraged to invest through structured products and ‘approved funds’ which carry high, and potentially undisclosed, fees.
Perhaps the greatest criticism of the HSBC Expat Bank Account Service is that the service levels are poor. Clients are one amongst tens of thousands and on balance do not receive a high level of personal service or expertise in exchange for the relatively high fees they pay.
High staff turnover and local coverage mean that clients do not receive the bespoke, ‘home country’ service that is embodied by HSBC’s strong brand and excellent UK offerings.