HSBC was accused of running its pension funds in a way that could be as damaging to shareholders as its disastrous foray into US sub-prime mortgages. A shift out of shares into bonds last year and a more conservative assumption about staff life expectancy may cost HSBC shareholders up to £775 million, it was claimed. HSBC missed out on booming equity markets last year as its pension funds dumped shares in favour of bonds and infrastructure assets. The proportion of shares in the core UK pension fund was reduced from 47 per cent at the start of the year to 24.5 per cent by its end. HSBC plans to cut it still further to 12.5 per cent.