The figure, which comes despite HSBC’s record fine of £1.2bn to settle a US investigation into money laundering, was below City forecasts of £15.6bn.
But it is still one of the biggest profit hauls in the history of UK banking and the biggest profit by a British bank since the financial crisis.
It will trigger another windfall for its chief executive. Stuart Gulliver is expected to receive a bonus of around £2 million as part of a total pay and benefits package reportedly worth between £6m and £7m for 2012.
The banking group makes an estimated 90 per cent of its money outside Britain and has benefited from its exposure to emerging markets in Asia.
Last week RBS announced it was paying bonuses totalling £600m – despite losses of £5.2bn.