UK – HSBC says population ageing is starting to shape the demand for financial services.

The UK bank – which is under corporate governance scrutiny over the pay of a US executive - has also taken issue with some aspects of the Higgs Report on non-executive directors.

“In developed markets, we see demographic changes, in particular ageing of the population, shaping and changing the demand for financial services,” chairman Sir John Bond said.

He told the bank’s annual general meeting that there was now “increasing emphasis on wealth management, including insurance products and savings products, in the form of investments and pensions”.

According to HSBC’s 2002 annual report, it is the fifth largest provider of UK pensions, with a six percent share of the stakeholder pension market. It also said it was putting 500 million pounds (696 million euros) into its own pension scheme in 2003.

Bond added that HSBC disagrees with two aspects of the Higgs Review – directors’ terms and independent chairmen.

He said a director's contribution was “likely to become even more valuable over time” and that it was “perfectly reasonable” to have a chairman and a chief executive who can cover for each other.

“We welcome the Higgs Review and we share its goal of better corporate governance,” Bond added.

Bond also defended the pay package of its US executive William Aldinger, which had created a corporate governance stir.