HSBC - "In the future campaign" taken a little too seriously

HSBC's latest marketing campaign includes a list of things that are going to change in the future... with the idea being that they will help you make investment decisions to benefit from these changes. The only this is... all of these predictions are wrong. For posterity, I'm documenting it here with HSBC's original marketing story.

In the future, even the smallest business will be multinational

STORY: Whether you trade in Dollars, Euros or Renminbi, global markets are opening up to everyone. At HSBC we can connect your business to new opportunities on six continents - in more than 90 currencies. There's a new world emerging. Be part of it.

FACT: The US dollar will continue to be a symbol of free trade, rule of law and relatively conservative politics. Lemonade stands will continue to be cash only... and that's USD cash.

In the future, the food chain and the supply chain will merge

STORY: In tomorrow's global economy, every resource will be counted. HSBC is one of the world's leading supply chain organisations. We help companies keep tabs on stock across six continents - and five oceans. The future starts today.

FACT: We have perhaps already reached the peak of cross-border wage rate discrepancy. If you factor in the increasing cost of transportion, then we definitely have. Local food production is a protected industry everywhere and will continue to be. 

In the future, South-South trade will be norm not novelty

STORY: Direct trade between fast-growing nations is reshaping the world economy. HSBC is one of the leading banks for trade settlement between China and Latin America. There's a new world emerging. Be part of it.

FACT: There's nothing really here to dispute

In the future, investors will need to be explorers

STORY: In the new economy growth could come from unexpected places, so investors might need to look beyond their comfort zones. HSBC's Emerging Markets Index can help you navigate the fastest growing markets. There's a new world out there.

FACT: The next 20 years will be no different in this respect from the past 20.

In the future, we will be planting cities

STORY: Not many things grow as fast as 21st century cities. Bamboo does: one of the strongest and lightest building materials, it's now springing up in developments in emerging and developed countries. HSBC supports innovative ideas that will build the cities of the future. There's a new world emerging.  

FACT: Synthetic building materials are getting better and (more importantly) cheaper constantly. Besides chopsticks, nobody will be building anything with bamboo.

In the future, there will be no difference between waste and energy

STORY: We are going to need multiple alternatives to fossil fuels. ‘Sizing the Climate Economy’ is HSBC’s unique perspective on tomorrow’s most promising innovations in the energy sector. Once you’ve read it, please recycle. The future starts here.

FACT: HSBC does not have a unique perspective on energy innovations. 

In the future, we will all fly organic

STORY: To be more efficient, business has to be more imaginative: the most forward-thinking airlines are already powering their fleets with bio fuels. Climate change is already exacerbating underlying resource stress in global energy, food and water systems. Read HSBC's report 'Scoring Climate Change Risk' to find out which countries are most vulnerable.  Scoring climate change risk.

FACT: "Forward-thinking" airlines are spending their marketing dollars on bio fuels. Airlines are highly competitive and do not have any budget for R&D. The Boeing 787 project was first considered in 2002 and had commercial flight 2011. Capital investment at Boeing is a 30-year consideration. Nobody will retrofit planes for natural gas or biofuel in the next 20 years, don't bet any money on those.

In the future, it will take many imports to make an export

STORY: Supply chains are increasingly complex and global. HSBC's supply chain experts can help you construct opportunities, piece by piece. There's a new world emerging. Be part of it.  

FACT: Supply chains are simple. Software created in the 90's allowed new business models to be created which were immediately put into effect to ship components of products across the world. Now companies like Apple are insourcing production. Apple is not a patriot, they have found that it is easier to employ robots close to the customer that to hire marginally cheaper labor and have products stuck in float.

In the future, there will be no markets left waiting to emerge

STORY: By 2050, 19 of the 30 largest economies will be in countries we now call 'emerging'*. HSBC's international network can help you discover new markets wherever they emerge next. There's a new world out there. *Source: HSBC 'The world in 2050'

FACT: In the past we used the term "3rd world country", now we use "emerging economy", in the future it will be something else. Disparity is inevitable.

In the future, age will be no barrier to ambition.

STORY: In the new world earning longer could mean learning longer. The Future of Retirement is HSBC's in-depth study into global retirement trends. Make sure it's on your reading list. There's a new world emerging. Are you ready?

FACT: It is more accurate to say global trends will be a barrier to retirement.

So what is going to change in the next 20 and 50 years?

  • Populations across the world will become older, birth rates will reduce, retirees will have grimmer prospects than they expected before deciding to retire, the ratio of retirees to workers will grow, entitlees vs. entitlers will become a main issue in politics
  • Technology will become cheaper and more accessible to the masses, every significant technological advancement will have an equal and opposite displacement in "traditional" jobs
  • Health care will be affected by consumer direct access to medical technology
  • Biotechnology will reach the sophistication of "should we use this technology" this century, the same way that nuclear physics did last century
  • Energy will become more expensive and people will use less of it for applications that currently require a lot of it. Alternate energy sources will continue to be novelty.
  • Nanotechnology will improve clothing, construction, and other commercial and consumer products
  • Media will continue to decentralize, with broadcast and propaganda effectively replaced by lots of direct communication
These are all theses that you can directly invest in. Find your own thesis and find the investment advisor that understands them, not the other way around.

Reply in the comments if you though this post was going to list stock picks at the end :-)


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