When Sir John Bond joined HSBC in 1961 as a 20-year-old trainee, it was at a local bank in Hong Kong.
Today, after 45 years' service - including five as chief executive and seven as chairman - HSBC proudly calls itself "the world's local bank".
And it is the 64-year-old Englishman who has been credited with creating this global banking powerhouse, based in London but recognised all over the world, with 110 million customers and annual profits of more than £9 billion.
It is now one of the world's largest banks, snapping at the heels of Citigroup of the US.
In the last 12 years, Sir John has overseen more than 50 acquisitions worth more than £29.3 billion, including deals in France, the US, Malta, Mexico and Bermuda.
HSBC has also expanded into mainland China with a
19.9 per cent stake in the Bank of Communications - the country's fifth largest bank - and another 19.9 per cent in Ping An Insurance.
And it was quoted on the New York stock exchange on Sir John's watch, in addition to its listings in London and Hong Kong.
Such is his impact that the married father of three was knighted for his services to banking in the Queen's birthday honours in 1999. And earlier this month he came seventh in The Times newspaper's Power 100 rankings. Sir John is also a director at Vodafone and Ford.
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein analyst Simon Maughan said: "It's Bond who has cast HSBC as one of the top banks in the world and that's an important legacy to leave."
Sir John joined HSBC - then known by its full name of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation - in 1961. He started in Asia, where he worked for 25 years, before moving to the US for four years in 1986.
In 1988 he became an executive director, and moved to Hong Kong in 1990 when he assumed responsibility for the group's commercial banking operations. He returned to the US in 1991 as president and chief executive of HSBC USA.
On January 1 1993 Sir John became chief executive of the group and oversaw the integration of Midland Bank in the UK when it was bought by HSBC in 1992.
He was appointed chairman in May 1998. Fixated with keeping costs down, Sir John travelled to work on the Tube and ordered employees to turn off the lights when they left the office each day. It was also said that he started meetings by working out the hourly costs of the staff present and writing the figure up for all to see.
Sir John will stand down as chairman at the AGM on May 26 next year and will be replaced by current chief executive Stephen Green as HSBC sticks to its tradition of promoting company insiders.
In its 140-year history HSBC has never hired someone from outside to lead it.
Mr Green, a 57-year-old father of two, was appointed chief executive in 2003 after joining the company in 1982 to oversee corporate planning.
The Oxford graduate, who also has a master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became chairman of the banking arm in January this year.