John will take over from Malcolm Wallis, who has been interim comms chief since long-serving group chief communications officer Pierre Goad retired at the end of June.
John is global director of communications, brand and marketing at McKinsey & Company, where he has led a global team focused on corporate and internal communications, media relations, corporate affairs, digital and social and societal impact.
He has previously been global director of communications at Bupa and director of corporate affairs for PepsiCo UK and Ireland.
John also has professional experience in consultancy, TV journalism and political research, and has written several books. He is a former trustee of the British Red Cross and Whizz Kidz.
He will report to HSBC’s group chief of staff Stephen Moss.
"Steve brings to HSBC a wealth of senior and global communications, public policy and leadership experience, acquired across a broad range of multi-national and charitable organisations," Moss said in a staff email.
"I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Malcolm Wallis for his leadership as the group chief communications officer following the retirement of Pierre Goad earlier this year."
Goad was named the most influential person in UK banking and financial comms in this year's PRWeek UK Power Book.