Fighting Financial Crime

HSBC , London / HSBC / 2017

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In 2012 HSBC was fined $1.9 billion by the US government for failing to prevent customers laundering money and breaching sanctions. Since then, the bank has launched a number of internal communications campaigns aimed at keeping criminals out of the banking system. The biggest challenge has been to keep the message fresh and prevent complacency.


In early 2016, HSBC’s Employee Insight and Communications (EIC) team were challenged to produce films that re-ignited the message and demonstrated that stopping criminals from using the bank is everybody’s job.


HSBC has highly complex procedures and systems to detect criminals in the banking system. The measures are effective but they need to be combined with the experience and expertise of the bank’s employees. The objective of this project was to pass a simple message to as many members of staff as possible: “YOU are vital in the fight against financial crime”.


This was a very complex project to execute. Finding appropriate criminals was a serious challenge.

The HSBC commercial bank asked the team to focus on accounting frauds. After extensive research the producers found an accounting fraudster who had used false documents to commit one of the USA’s biggest ever frauds. He explained how inquisitive bank staff could have easily spotted his crime just by asking simple questions.

The team then focused on human trafficking, a major issue for retail banking. The UK’s leading anti-trafficking charity said they knew of nobody who had ever found a trafficker who would go on camera. The team persisted. Producers travelled to Montenegro and located a former trafficker. He revealed how he used the banking system to enslave his victims and how banks could have stopped him.

The completed films were distributed across the bank and in team meetings in every branch and office worldwide.

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