a heavy giant HSBC increased quarterly profit as it took more profit from rising interest rates, but said mortgages remained affordable for most customers.

The lender reported adjusted pre-tax profit for the three months to September 30 of $6.5bn (£5.76bn), up from $5.5bn (£4.87bn) a year earlier.

It also beat market expectations, which had forecast six billion dollars (£5.32 billion) in profit for the quarter.

It comes as the group also announced the departure of its chief financial officer and chief executive, Ewan Stephenson, who will leave HSBC next April.

The surprise move will see Georges Elkhedery step into the role as the bank focuses on “long-term succession planning” following a three-year transformation programme.

Mr Stevenson said: “I think it is a natural moment for me to leave the bank and I am looking forward to taking some time off and considering my options for the future.”

He emphasized that there was no conflict with the HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn or disagreements over the group’s strategy, although he could not confirm whether it was his decision to leave the bank at the time.

Responding to speculation about his position, Mr Quinn added: “I have no plans to go anywhere anytime soon, I expect to be here for many years. I am only part of my daily plan of what I want to achieve.

“But clearly, as with any direction of any public company, it’s always at the discretion of the board of directors.”

Based on what we are seeing at the moment, for the vast majority of our customers we believe higher rates are available

In its quarterly results, the bank saw net interest margin – a key measure of loan profits – rise to 1.57% in the third quarter from 1.19% a year ago.

This has been boosted by the Bank of England’s rise in base rate in recent months, which has made it more expensive for people to borrow and pushed up mortgage rates.

But banks can make more profit because they can get more money from paying off people’s loans.

In 2023, HSBC expects to retain at least $36 billion (£31.83 billion) in net interest income.

However, higher interest rates can also have a detrimental effect on lenders if it means more people are unable to pay off loans they can no longer afford.

I hope there will be no windfall tax, but that is a matter for the Chancellor to decide next week.

HSBC said it set aside $1.1bn (£972m) for expected loan losses in the latest quarter, up significantly from a $659m (£584m) charge last year.

The bank said the charge reflects a worsening economic outlook due to greater uncertainty, inflation and rising interest rates, which could affect the public’s repayment of loans in 2023.

The mortgage market has been particularly turbulent in recent weeks, with average two-year fixed-rate mortgages above 6% following the budget.

Mr Stevenson said: “We’ve been stress testing customers’ ability to pay their mortgages up to 7% interest rates, so we’re still comfortably within that test.

“Based on what we’re seeing at the moment, for the vast majority of our customers, we believe higher rates are available.

“For those customers who need help, we will do everything we can to support them.”

HSBC said loan losses remained stable over the year despite the UK’s worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Boss Mr. Quinn added that the new prime minister Rishi Sunak should help settle financial markets after a “difficult few weeks” in the UK.

He said: “I am glad to see that the market has stabilized and it is good that there is a decision on a new prime minister so that we also have political stability.”

He also touched on speculation that the chancellor Jeremy Hunt may consider increasing windfall taxes for banks at the end of the month.

“The UK financial services sector already has a tax burden that is higher than that of corporations as a whole, with a combination of corporation tax, surcharges and bank levy,” Mr Quinn explained.

“I hope there will be no windfall tax, but that is a matter for the chancellor to decide next week.”

The London-based bank, which makes most of its profits in Asia, also reported some significant one-off charges that weighed on its overall reported profit.

It said the loan fee was partly due to the commercial real estate sector in mainland China, which has seen a slowdown in the housing market since the pandemic.

It also set aside a hefty $2.4bn (£2.1bn) from the planned sale of its retail banking operations in France.

As a result, HSBC shares fell more than 7% on Tuesday.