Falling loan impairment charges helped HSBC’s US division post
its first quarterly pre-tax profit since 2007, although the UK
retail arm recorded only modest growth, according to a statement
from the bank.

HSBC, the world’s largest retail bank, said
its first quarter performance was “very good”, although it did not
release specific figures. 

“I am encouraged by our very good financial
results and pleased to say that our performance since the end of
the quarter has been satisfactory,” said Michael Geoghegan, group
chief executive at the bank.

The bank said an increased focus by customers
on reducing levels of debt and the impact of government stimulus
programmes had driven falling loan impairment charges in the US,
while the division’s run-off portfolios fell by $5.6 billion to
$73.3 billion in the first quarter of 2010.   

Retail revenues for the UK arm were marginally
higher than in the first quarter of 2009, after higher asset
spreads and opportunities for selective lending growth, but the
bank said credit demand remained low.

Credit quality in mortgages continued to be
underpinned by “conservative” loan-to-value ratios. 

The bank has signed up 1 million Premier
customers in the last three quarters, with an increase of its
customer base to 3.6 million in the first quarter of 2010 from 2.6
million customers at the end of the second quarter of

The bank also cited the launch of the
‘Advance’ account in its loan and deposit growth

The all-in-one account targeted at the
mid-market segment was rolled out across 39 countries in March in a
bid to repeat the success of its Premier account (see RBI