Douglas Flint, chairman at HSBC, has said search for his successor has begun. Sam Laidlaw, chairperson of the nomination committee and Rachel Lomax, HSBC's senior independent non-executive director, are heading the search process, he said.

In a letter to shareholders sent on 18 March, Flint said, "The nomination committee has now turned its attention to formulating a succession plan for my own role as group chairman." He added that the new chairman would "lead the process for selecting the next group chief executive in due course." This new chief executive will succeed Stuart Gulliver, the current CEO of the London-headquartered bank.

While Flint joined the bank in 1995 as finance director and became its chairman in 2010, Gulliver has been with the bank for a much longer period. He had joined the bank in 1980 and became its chief executive in 2011.

The announcement follows both Flint and Gulliver receiving criticism from some investors with regards to a series of multi-million pound fines HSBC had to bear over financial activities gone wrong such as anti-money laundering measures and mortgage backed securities mis-selling. Investors were also unhappy with the duo for spending £40m (€51.19m, $57.74m) in deciding against shifting its headquarters from London and for reporting a fourth quarter loss in February, according to The Independent.

With regards to the timeline as to when the new chairman could be appointed, Flint said, "The board aims to nominate my successor during 2017 but the exact timing is clearly dependent upon identifying and securing the appropriate candidate. My own commitment is to remain as long as necessary to ensure a smooth transition."