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HSBC Direct Attracts 350,000 Accounts

In a Jan. 1 case history published in Direct Magazine (article here), HSBC Direct says it has attracted 350,000 customers since the launch of its high-yield savings account just over a year ago (Nov. 2005).

Assuming typical high-yield balance levels of $8000 to $10,000 per account (our estimate), the bank has attracted more than $3 billion in deposits. The bank has marketed its 5%+ APR account heavily, so it's not likely that the new business is making much of a profit contribution yet. 

Based on the bank's reported online ad spending, its acquisition costs were $75 per account from the online spending only, not including what it spent in other media to support the direct business unit (see note 1).

The bank said it is working on new products to offer through the direct bank. This is a crucial step in the evolution. There just aren't enough customers with $10,000 savings balances to feed all the financial institutions looking for new deposits. HSBC's ability to sell other services to its 350,000 new customers will determine the long-term success of the direct banking initiative. 

Thanks to former Forrester senior analyst, Ron Shevlin, now VP at Epsilon, for the link in his Marketing ROI blog. 


  1. According to data from TNS published in American Banker here, HSBC spent $20 million online during the first three quarters of 2006. To calculate the acquisition cost we annualized the online spending and divided by 350,000. This calculation excludes the portion of non-Internet advertising that went to support the direct unit. The bank's total ad spend was $42 million during the first 3 quarters of 2006.