McKinsey's Communications Director Steve John joins HSBC

25 October 2019 3 min. read

McKinsey & Company Partner Steve John will step down from his role leading the strategy consulting giant’s global communications efforts to join HSBC as the bank’s group Chief Communications Officer at the start of December. John will report to Stephen Moss, HSBC's Group Head of Strategy and Chief of Staff.

Comprised of 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa, HSBC Bank is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. Despite its size, however, HSBC is by no means immune to the range of pressures currently impacting operators in the sector. First and foremost, the biggest of these is digital transformation.

As with the rest of the business world, technology represents a crucial driver of change in the banking industry. The relentless move towards digital platforms continues to dominate the change agenda across the industry. The need to compete with FinTech competitors, while reducing costs and meeting the changing demands of customers means that the on-going drive towards digital platforms and technology in banking shows no signs of slowing.

Steve John - Chief Communications Officer at HSBC

To compete in this market, HSBC is planning an overhaul of its First Direct brand to attract younger customers and compete with fast-growing new digital rivals. At the same time, it is looking to downsize on costs, with a report by the Wall Street Journal claiming HSBC is planning to exit its French retail banking business, with other cost-cutting measures also in the pipeline. What is clear amid all this rapid short-term change, though, is that long-term strategy will ultimately see the bank clear of its new competitors.

To that end, HSBC has sourced its new Chief Communications Officer (CCO) from one of the world’s largest strategy consultancies. Steve John will assume the position at the start of December, reporting to Stephen Moss, HSBC's Group Head of Strategy and Chief of Staff. John will arrive having been with McKinsey & Company for nearly six years as a Partner and Global Director of Communications, during which time he led a global team specialising in corporate and internal communications, media relations, corporate affairs, digital and social impact.

With the consulting sector also seeing a rapid rise in the number of new, digitally savvy competitors, under John’s guidance, McKinsey underwent a major change operation to differentiate itself in a crowded market. That saw John help oversee McKinsey’s transformation into a global content leader. Before joining the consulting firm, John was healthcare company Bupa’s global communications director and PepsiCo’s UK and Ireland director of corporate affairs. He has authored several books and is a former British Red Cross and Whizz Kidz trustee.

As reported by public relations news site Holmes Report, a memo from Stephen Moss said of the new hire, “Steve brings to HSBC a wealth of senior and global communications, public policy and leadership experience, acquired across a broad range of multi-national and charitable organisations.”

John will step into the shoes of Pierre Goad, who retired earlier in 2019, following eight years with HSBC. In the interim, European Communications Head Malcolm Wallis will continue to handle the responsibilities of the role.