HSBC chairman Mark Tucker is on the lookout for potential acquisition targets, according to shareholders quoted by the Sunday Times.
Tucker reportedly told shareholders that he has an "optimistic view" that expansion could add to profits.
American credit card firm Synchrony Financial could be one target, according to unnamed sources cited by the Sunday Times.
Tucker took over as chairman of HSBC at the start of October, and appointed a new chief executive, John Flint, from within the HSBC ranks within a fortnight.
Any move to buy businesses and push into new markets would mark a turnaround from HSBC. The firm pursued an aggressive push into new markets before the financial crisis, but outgoing chief executive Stuart Gulliver retreated from some emerging economies as investors started to look askance at non-core operations.
The bank has redoubled its energies in its more profitable Asian operations, its traditional focus. At its third-quarter results at the end of last month the bank said its "pivot to Asia is driving higher returns and lending growth."
The bank reported quarterly profits of $4.6bn (£3.5bn) for the three months to the end of September, with operating expenses much lower as it has looked to cut bloated costs.
HSBC declined to comment.