December 16, 2013 11:52 pm
Updated: December 16, 2013 11:54 pm

HSBC dumps hundreds of small business owners as clients


HSBC bills itself as the “world’s local bank,” but a Vancouver florist feels HSBC is edging out small businesses in favour of big business.

After a 22-year relationship with the bank, Gabriel Yiu was informed his account would be closed due to a recent strategic review at HSBC.

He’s not the only small business owner cut off.

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“Unbelievable, and it’s hurtful too because I’m an immigrant from Hong Kong. When I was in Hong Kong, I was personally with HSBC, so here, we started our bank account in 1991 — 22 years — in good standing. Now I have a letter to leave in 60 days,” says Yiu.

Hundreds of small business owners around B.C. and North America have been sent the same letter, including Charlie Richmond.

He designs software for theatres and theme park shows and has been an HSBC customer for 15 years.

“In the airports, they have this world’s local bank, and it’s really not the case. They don’t treat you like a local customer,” says Richmond.

HSBC even features young entrepreneurs in an international ad campaign.

In an email response, it says it has been strategically reviewing its portfolio of small and medium sized businesses for more than 2 years.

And going forward, it appears HSBC only wants to deal with those businesses that either are already or aspire to be international.

At the same time, HSBC insists Canada is a priority market.

“At a time when banks are making record profits, paying multi-million bonuses to top executives, where do they think this money comes from? Small businesses,” says NDP Finance Critic Mike Farnworth.

“For a bank such incredibly short notice, extremely challenging small businesses depend on banks in a big way. Completely offside,” says Mike Klassen of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Gabriel Yiu is hoping HSBC reconsiders, or at the very least, he wants Ottawa to step in.

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