Publication Details

Hui, F. C. & Rudkin, K. M. (2009). Hongkong and Shanghai Bank financial reporting practice 1865-1876. AFAANZ Conference (pp. 1-19). Adelaide, Australia: AFAANZ.


Accounting practices of Hongkong and Shanghai Bank from 1865 to 1876 fostered its repertoire of precocial identities. Hongkong and Shanghai bank used these identities to act opportunistically in commercial dealings with the British colonial administration of Hong Kong, the public of the United Kingdom, and the Emperor of China and his Chinese administration. This paper argues HSBC varied its financial reporting practices to manage its identities in public spaces in different cultural constituencies in order to ensure its longer term survival. The approach taken is to use the example of HSBC’s Foochow loan to demonstrate its use of financial reporting to sustain its various identities. Documents pertaining to the published financial statements of Hongkong and Shanghai Bank between 1865 and 1876 are examined for the accounting practices and policies used. Secondary sources were also analysed. Hongkong and Shanghai Bank uniquely positioned itself to be simultaneously viewed as a conservative bank based on Scottish banking principles and a trusted local bank of the people of Hong Kong. It was the only bank acting in these three capacities. It achieved this by varying financial reporting practices to manage stakeholders’ confidence. Only sources written in English were utilised in this study, as English texts dominate the historical records. However Chinese language representations are not present in this analysis. This study challenges meta-narrative explanations of the banking sector in colonization.

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