Stephen Green also said in an interview that the financial sector focussed too much on short-term profits, rather than on the health of the sector as a whole.
His comments were made before this weekend's collapse of Lehman Brothers, and news of Merrill Lynch's merger with Bank of America.
Both US banks had traded heavily in complex mortgage-backed financial products, which subsequently lost value with the onset of the credit crunch.
Global financial firms have lost around $400 billion in asset write-downs and credit losses relating to the crisis.
However the International Monetary Fund has predicted that the total financial hit could approach $1 trillion.
Former head of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, also said last weekend that he expected more banks to fail due to the crunch.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Green commented: "There has been far too much focus on payments that are very short-term focused, people who pick up the tab for short-term profits, without having to bear the costs of long-term impairments."
HSBC, listed in London, is Europe's largest bank.