The would-be boss of HSBC is finalising plans to shake-up the bank – including cutting as many as 10,000 jobs.
Noel Quinn, its interim chief executive, will unveil his blueprint for the lender's future on Tuesday.
The Birmingham-born banker has been the architect of HSBC's strategic review, which is designed to increase profitability and cut back some of its underperforming divisions.
Strategic concerns: Birmingham-born Noel Quinn is HSBC's interim chief executive
It had been widely expected that he would be confirmed as a permanent replacement to John Flint, who was ousted in the summer.
But investors are now worrying that the instability at the top of HSBC could last a little longer, amid reports that Quinn will not be named as boss as he reveals the new strategy. 'It seems a bit odd,' said one major shareholder. 'Most people were thinking he would be confirmed as chief executive this month. It's quite hard to find someone else with the skills needed.'
Another City fund manager with a stake in HSBC speculated that the bank's chairman, Mark Tucker, might be looking for a candidate with more radical ideas than those that Quinn has been offering.
He said: 'Maybe the chairman hasn't endorsed the plan. Maybe Quinn might need to come up with a more ambitious plan to get the chairman's blessing. We do think Tucker is good news, so we believe he's doing the right thing.
'And we think Noel will get endorsed eventually. It will be a surprise if he's not chief executive.
'But it's a tough environment at the moment – low interest rates mean there's not much to be made on interest margins, so HSBC needs to have some good ideas to get costs down.'
HSBC, which is Britain's largest bank but makes almost 50 per cent of its total revenue in Asia, urgently needs to improve its returns for shareholders as it has lagged behind its rivals in recent years.
Flint, who held the chief executive's job for just 18 months, was shunted out after colleagues became frustrated with the pace of change.