Stephen Green, Baron Green of Hurstpierpoint, is a British politician, former Conservative Minister of State for Trade and Investment, former group chairman of HSBC Holdings plc, and Anglican priest. Lord Green began his professional life as a civil servant in the Ministry of Overseas Development, as it was then. In 1977, he joined McKinsey & Co and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1982 and in 1992 became group treasurer of HSBC Holdings plc with responsibility for the HSBC Group’s treasury and capital markets businesses globally. In 1998 Green was appointed to the Board of HSBC Holdings plc as as Executive Director of Investment Banking and Markets. He became Group Chief Executive in 2003 and Group Chairman 2006, retiring from HSBC in December 2010. Lord Green has written six books.
“Not many people know this” might have been an apt title for Lord Green’s call for action –
Services account for 46% of the total UK export figure of £698bn in 2019, the latest full figures available, Lord Green told the online audience. It was important to note, he said, that the export of goods in 2019 produced a deficit of £130bn. whilst the export of services produced a surplus of £104bn – a familiar pattern, he pointed out in commending greater action in developing the services element in exports.
Whilst recognising the widespread uncertainties of the major disruption now confronting the UK, he saw the emerging new norm as needing greater creativity, entrepreneurial effort and hard work to turn the current norm into the global powerhouse of tomorrow. With 80% of GDP reflecting the services-based nature of the UK economy, Lord Green saw this being where the greater economic growth would come from. Musing on his time as a UK Trade Minister and also as Chairman of HSBC, Lord Green told the online audience about his personal experience visiting all corners of the UK and seeing for himself the serious export potential of some sectors and geographic regions of the UK – and now becoming not only viable but also realistic propositions due not only to technology developments but also to changes in the economic climate and sentiment around where new business and new profits can be found. He said that all the evidence then and now is that companies that export grow faster, are more profitable, employ more people and last longer.
Lord Green added that the expanding support now available not only from Government but also from the Not-for-Profit and the Private Sectors was at an all-time high. In particular, he commended the lively and extensive work being done by overseas embassies and trade commissions and the UKEF. Very much worthwhile getting in touch with them, he encouraged. Those who go out into the world looking for export opportunities are often very pleasantly surprised. No effort; no gain. His use of the expression “intrepid trader” conjured up centuries of images of hardened and ambitious adventurers visiting all corners of the world – or the world as we knew it at the time – looking for trade opportunities. What are these new opportunities now likely to be, he asked the online audience.
Current and constant media references to the double-whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit, Lord Green pointed out, were obviously worrying, but those who saw these as opportunities and were prepared to use the help and support available and their own resources of creativity and entrepreneurial drive deserved all possible success that the new norm could deliver.