The banking behemoth currently uses Maitland for its UK financial PR, but will incorporate that brief into a wider account.
It is believed in the industry that the substantial retainer will be worth a mid-to-upper-six-figure sum.
HSBC is understood to want to make an appointment over the coming weeks and has contacted a number of agencies to invite them to pitch.
It is understood that Burson-Marsteller, which handles HSBC's public affairs account, will be shortlisted alongside Maitland.
City heavy-hitters such as Brunswick, FD and Finsbury are also in the frame, as are generalist multinationals such as Edelman, Ogilvy and MS&L.
HSBC wants a high degree of consistency in its messaging around the world and may require more than one agency.
The brief will be less focused on specific financial calendar work and will centre on wider messaging and corporate reputation.