Shareholder anger over lacklustre returns and high executive pay has been expressed at the annual general meeting of HSBC.
Chairman Douglas Flint admitted that shareholder returns had been disappointing and inadequate.
A fifth of investors refused to back the bank's remuneration plan, marking stronger opposition over pay than that faced by other banks in Britain.
Under the plan, chief executive Stuart Gulliver could earn up to £12.5 million.
The BBC reports the remuneration report contained new arrangements for paying board members in the wake of protests at last year's shareholder meeting.
The Association of British Insurers earlier raised concerns about the scheme.
But another institutional investor, Standard Life - which was one of the bank's fiercest critics over executive pay last year - has backed the plan.
Earlier this month, HSBC revealed details of a large cost-cutting programme, aimed at saving up to $US3.5 billion (2.4 billion euros).
The BBC reports the programme involves a retreat from retail banking, although the number of job cuts that will be made has not yet been disclosed.
Europe's biggest bank could also sell its US credit card business.