With a banking career taking in periods in Hong Kong, New York, Dubai and Lebanon, alumnus Paul Szumilewicz (BA Commerce and Italian, 2003) is taking on his biggest challenge to date, back in Birmingham.
As Ringfenced Banking Lead for Retail and Wealth Banking at HSBC, Paul is at the forefront of the bank’s bold decision to move the HSBC UK head office to Birmingham by 2019
Ring-fencing is the UK legislation that requires large banks to separate their retail operations from any wholesale or investment banking activity to better protect taxpayers and the wider economy in the event of another financial crisis.
Paul has come to the role after a 12 year career in banking, which was kick-started while he was still at university.
“In my final year at Birmingham, I got involved with the Students’ Union, and became Vice President for Sport in 2003/4,” he remembered. “It was a tremendous year and a major influence on my future career, working with senior members of the uni, running projects and leading people.”
Paul was headhunted in the middle of his sabbatical year for a bespoke Lloyds Banking group graduate programme, which only took up to 10 people per year.
“I had so many brilliant experiences at Lloyds over the eight years that I was there,” he remembered, “and I got a chance to work around the world, in Europe, Middle East, USA and Asia.”
His last role with the bank was as Head of Business Performance for its international retail arm during Lloyds’ acquisition of HBOS. “A difficult time,” he remembered, “where many different priorities needed to be balanced, but a good learning experience.”
In 2011, Paul was invited to apply for HSBC’s International Manager scheme, which essentially takes managers from the HSBC Group and deploys them across the world.
Several more international postings followed; as Vice President of Compliance in New York; in Lebanon as Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, an “eye opening” stint; and back to the UK as a Regional Performance Director.
Then, eight months ago came Paul’s latest and biggest challenge – ringfencing HSBC’s UK Retail Banking and Wealth Management division and supporting its head office move to Birmingham.
“It’s a really really interesting job ahead of me,” said Paul. “Although we are still very much part of the HSBC Group, this move involves every aspect of building a new bank; conforming to regulations, establishing communications, operations, infrastructure and systems and separating them sufficiently, while continuing to meet the needs of our customers and achieve our ambition of becoming the bank of choice.
“It’s also an amazing opportunity to build a unique culture and identity for HSBC UK – the new name for the ring fenced HSBC bank.”
And, on coming back to the West Midlands, Paul is “so excited.”
“I’ve always loved Birmingham and I’m passionate about the city. I’m really looking forward to the new opportunities for me and for HSBC as we move here.”
Paul Szumilewicz and colleague Lucy Williams, Head of Regulatory Compliance, HSBC (UK) will be speaking at Birmingham Business School on 19 January as part of our Distinguished Leader Lecture Series.