After TSB is HSBC the next bank with an IT problem?

HSBC branch in UKA recent experience with one of my many long-standing bank accounts with HSBC leads me to question, yet again, how well banks’ automated processes are designed to serve human beings.

While I have advocated IT and its benefits through time savings and efficiencies for a business, I have also questioned whether we are being naïve about its capabilities, most recently in my blog on June 21, when TSB was one of several organisations struggling with IT issues during a system upgrade.

Four months ago, HSBC requested that I provided evidence of my identity details for one of my several company bank accounts with them. I assumed this was one of its regular Money-Laundering checks.

I supplied the usual necessary information – a copy of my passport and a recent utilities bill.

This week, I received a cheque in the post for several thousand pounds being the balance in the account, an account through which my company has traded regularly for approximately 15 years. With it was a letter informing me that HSBC was closing the account.

This account has always been in credit and I as the sole director, along with my shareholders and account administrator have not changed since opening the account and are UK domiciled and based. We are not operating from some dodgy address in Colombia.

In its wisdom it appears that the HSBC computer said “no”

Despite my having several accounts for different businesses with HSBC, some of them for many years, and none breaching any covenants, the computer has made its “judgement” on this particular company.

How many other HSBC business clients have fallen foul of this kind of automated checking process?

Is there a problem with the HSBCs IT system? Or perhaps with the parameters they set for carrying out such checks? Or for making such “judgements”.

Or is this an early symptom of impending wider problems with their IT system?

It is ridiculous that banks do not have fall-back positions, perhaps even allowing staff to intervene and override the computer’s decision since it is not acceptable to automatically close accounts with clients after a long and perfectly satisfactory history.

Whatever the explanation it is hardly helpful for SME business customers for whom such an outcome could potentially cause considerable disruption to their daily operations.

And in a highly competitive banking sector, perhaps HSBC should revisit its system to make it more user friendly, for both clients and staff.

Picture credit: Alan Longbottom

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