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HSBC are closing my business bank account

(35 Posts)
Cedilla Sun 16-Jul-17 23:44:41

I'm astounded and angry.

I just had a letter telling me they've reviewed my account and they're going to close it in 2 weeks. They won't give any reason and they won't reverse the decision, apparently.

For context, I have a small 1-person business (a ltd co) that turns over a very decent annual amount. There's a substantial sum in the account. There's absolutely no way anything dodgy is involved - I won't say what I do but it could hardly be more above reproach.

Has anyone else had this happen to them? I can only think this was triggered by a mandatory HSBC questionnaire I had to fill in online about 2 months ago, allegedly to comply with regulations. Nothing about the questions rang any alarm bells, everything seemed quite standard.

I'm furious now. I feel they're implying there's something underhand about my business. What the hell?

Hoppinggreen Tue 18-Jul-17 08:17:26

I've had the same form to fill in online and I am now being threatened with account closure due to a form they want not being quite right.
They have asked me to confirm my share allocation and I have provided a letter from my accountant but because it was stamped by the accountant as well Saying it's a certified copy it's not good enough
Also, taking it to the branch won't do I need to scan it in and upload it to the online form
Double check all the info on the form is as requested, they put notes on there in the section where they need more info, it might be that something isn't quite right and if you provide what they want they might not close the account ( which is what I'm hoping for).
The local branch have no idea what's going on

Jessicass Wed 19-Jul-17 07:58:38

You can consider openning up an account on another bank.

Cedilla Wed 19-Jul-17 09:32:28

Thanks for the answers. A small update. I went into my branch, thinking it would be best to talk face-to-face with someone, and got nowhere, essentially - 'we don't deal with Safeguard'. So I had to go back home and phone.

The upshot was that in the 6 weeks since I filled out the online form, their IT dept haven't processed it. So the closure letter was sent automatically because the system thought I hadn't responded within the required time-frame.

I'm still disgusted, not least because the letter self-importantly announces how seriously they've considered my case and have reluctantly come to the decision etc etc......total bollocks!

Jessicass I assure you I'll be looking to switch accounts as soon as I can after this sorry episode, but unfortunately there are major business reasons why I really can't go through the hassle at this point.

Now I'm waiting for them to sort this mess out and come back to me with an apology.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 19-Jul-17 09:33:56

I couldn't find the form on line for my mothers business

Cedilla Wed 19-Jul-17 09:39:32

Five, I initially had a letter telling me I'd have to comply with this Safeguard thing. I thought I'd do it at some point convenient to me. But when I next logged on to my account, I wasn't able to access any balances etc, or make any transactions, until I'd filled in the form. A banner appeared in huge red letters at the top saying ATTENTION, or words to that effect.

Perhaps if you ask them on the Live Chat facility, they could advise?

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 19-Jul-17 10:47:41

I will do, thank you, I am in her shop on Friday

justatoe1 Wed 19-Jul-17 23:07:34

HSBC have a Deferred Prosecution hanging over them because of money laundering in the US. If they can't prove that they have made substantial improvement to protect against money laundering, they will lose their Dollar licence, making it impossible to operate.
Consequently they would prefer to close accounts than risk operating them. Nuts.

007hel Wed 23-Aug-17 10:57:43

Hi Cedilla ... any updates on this matter

Hoppinggreen Fri 25-Aug-17 11:25:30

Just an update from me as I'm in the same position
I am still being threatened with account closure
I have provided all the information they have asked for
There is an average 35 minute on hold to speak to the safeguarding department
The branch can't help
Live Chat have said that they willl get someone to call me but I'm still waiting
It's a bloody farce
I'm trying to get the email for the head of commercial banking who has just sent me a letter to introduce herself and telll me how she's here " to make my like easier"

Hoppinggreen Fri 25-Aug-17 11:25:55

Life I mean, make my life easier!!

nbacon10 Thu 31-Aug-17 15:48:32

Hi

I thought I would join this website if only to be able to post a reply here because this seems to be the only place coming up in a google search of other people also affected by this HSBC farce.

I’ve never been affected by anything like this in my life personally, but I do work in a bank and one which has been hit with massive US fines for breaking US sanctions and have seen first hand the level of work undertaken internally to meet US regulations to retain their banking licence. Its crazy and costs a fortune but is nothing compared to the loss of revenue and reputation if it lost its US banking licence.

That said, the way HSBC has approached this is horrendous. I got back from holiday last week to find the letter from HSBC which sent me into a flat spin. I’m a small one person ltd company with a decent annual turnover with my wife being a 2nd director and shareholder shareholder. I’d filled in all the details on the online banking portal as others have pointed out beforehand so couldn’t understand where this was coming from.

I was on hold for 45 minutes (twice) before I gave up and thought sod this, I’ll just open another bank account. That is easier said than done because without an explanation as to why the account was closing, neither Barclays nor Metro Bank would bother, and I lost my patience at that point. I went into a branch and the person I spoke to there clearly only had two brain cells and had no idea what the Safeguard Programme was, how to help and just told me to lie to another bank to get them to open an account because HSBC were well within their rights to close mine. A few choice words later and I left the bank absolutely fuming.

I’ve just got off the phone with them after having only been on hold for 10 mins this time and a very helpful chap told me that it was because I hadn’t filled in all the detail for my wife fully, and because she had a controlling stake in the company, they needed more info. Sure enough, when I went online again, I can see that within that form there is a comments section at the bottom which a helpful reviewer has filled out with the reason that its not yet complete. Why oh why the letter they wrote couldn’t have indicated specifically what I needed to do rather than the bog standard “we’re closing your account, tough **, see you later, bye” letter is beyond me, would have saved me a whole load of hassle.

Anyway, I’m sorting this now, and was told that within about ten working days I should get a letter telling me everything was cool.

So, panic over.

I hope this helps others who’ve got the same problem. They’re using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, bigger fish to worry about than us, but ultimately its not a done deal yet, give them a call (08000 304516) and select option 2.

Cheers
Nick

JigglyTuff Mon 11-Sep-17 12:13:09

I've also had a letter saying they're closing down my account. I've been with them since I started my business seven years ago.

I'm furious

Hoppinggreen Mon 11-Sep-17 20:42:42

I spent 2 hours on the phone with them today as they have definitely decided to close my account as the information I have supplied doesn't match the Information I have given them - but both me and my accountant have checked and IT DOES!!! My clients will only pay into a business account so this could cost me a lot of money
I can't appeal apparently and they don't have to justify closing the account even though they agree that I have a good balance and have run the account well without ever going overdrawn in 4 years
The final straw was when the person I was speaking to ( 4th person) said that they could open a new account for me!!!
So they will have to close my account for " safeguarding " reasons but I can have a new one.
It's fucking insane!!!
My accountant says it's happening to lots of people

Hoppinggreen Mon 11-Sep-17 20:43:54

Sorry, I meant the information I have given them doesn't match the information held at Companies House but it does!!

Hoppinggreen Thu 14-Sep-17 15:03:53

Update if anyone is interested
After 3 days of speaking to various people on the phone and in branch I am no further on and despite having money in there and the account showing as active online my card was swallowed by a HSBC machine today ( despite DH's card still working)
I opened an new business account with Yorkshire Bank this morning on the advice of my accountant and they were incredibly helpful. I didn't want to go down that route as I was concerned that having my account flagged as non compliant by HSBC would mean nobody else would offer an account but YB did it in less than an hour!! They said who owned the shares was none of their business!!
I'm still waiting for a call from HSBC from Monday - when/if they ever do I will take great pleasure in telling them to sod off!!
So if this is happening to anyone else just switch to another provider

SofiaAmes Thu 14-Sep-17 15:10:59

Sounds like you should all contact your MP!!!!

frazzled3ds Thu 14-Sep-17 15:14:18

This was on Money Box Live some months ago - there may be some advice in the episode that would help:

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09309h5

Backingvocals Thu 14-Sep-17 15:16:07

The FCA are aware of this - it's mentioned in their annual business plan this year. HSBC and Barclays are the worst offenders. It happened to us too. Absolutely horrendous and there's nothing you can do while they destroy your business for no reason whatsoever.

I'd advise anyone always to have more than one banking relationship. It's as essential as having insurance in today's climate.

I'd also write to your MP and the FCA.

Hoppinggreen Thu 14-Sep-17 15:27:34

Our previous MP was an ex business man who I had met a few times and if he was still my MP I would contact him.
However, he was ousted ( probably justifiably) by an ex teacher who has never been in industry and has no interest/links to local business here. Her interests lie in other area which is fine and possibly what we need as a constituency at the moment but I don't feel confident she could help
Once I recover from this week I WILL be officially complaining - HSBC branch staff have advised me too!!
Luckily all I have had is some inconvenience, wasted time and sleepless night but ultimately it COULD have closed my business and cost us our house etc
I really hope that anyone else going through this gets a resolution soon, it's truly awful

Emilydaisy1234 Mon 09-Oct-17 17:01:45

Hi. I've literally just had that letter??! Closing account, no reason, final decision??? I'm fuming also..... Will change banks ASAP as I'm so annoyed but want to write complaints letter and ask WHY ?? I'm a sole trader and will have to notify all clients of new details etc.... Any hints on complaints letter? I certainly want hard copies of all my statements if I will mo longer be able to check back on line? Just don't understand it.....

ReginaBlitzkreig Mon 09-Oct-17 17:12:08

Any mileage in contacting the Banking Ombudsman about this? Or newspaper consumer pages. It seems to be that a little bad publicity can get things moving.

antimatter Mon 09-Oct-17 17:17:18

I think Radio 4 was asking listeners to contact them in case business accounts are being suspended by HSBC
Listen to this program for more details
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05fl9kn

AlpacaLypse Mon 09-Oct-17 17:27:09

I had been considering changing anyway as HSBC have closed our local branch. I also deferred that thing about updating details, thinking I'd get round to it when we were quieter in the holiday period. I also for some reason had the impression that it was one of those things where they're trying to get you to 'upgrade' (i.e. pay extra) to use other facilities, which I get all the time from my personal bankers.

As a sole trader I have been able to transfer everything to a personal account. Win win, if I do get a cheque to pay in I no longer have to drive 12 miles and pay to park, and I'm not paying banking fees!

ethicalbrother Wed 25-Oct-17 11:10:13

I have joined Mumsnet as like an earlier contributor, I was interested to see this thread and find out about others who have experienced HSBC Account closure issues. I am a Director of a small but successful Community Interest Company that delivers arts and cultural projects that benefit our local community. I spent more than four months trying to comply with HSBC 'Safeguard' process, wasting weeks of time on a portal that didn't allow me to upload documents that were requested, many tens of hours on hold trying to find out how to provide the information, huge amounts of stress receiving many threatening and confusing letters saying HSBC were closing my account, etc. This all came to a head a couple of weeks ago, when without notice, HSBC closed all of our accounts with them. This completely crippled our organisation as we had many artists to pay after a summer festival and funding due from various councils, etc. We only discovered our accounts were closed when my co-director was unable to make a payment on internet banking. I then spent the best part of three full days trying to find out what had happened, why and what we could do about it - including visiting a local branch, speaking to numerous 'customer care' assistance - all of whom refused or were unable to send me an email confirming what was going to happen next (one HSBC employee even said that the accounts were closed and there was nothing that we could do about it - they could not be re-opened, that all would be fine as we would get a cheque in the mail - but I pointed out, I can't bank the cheque as we don't have a bank account!). A truly harrowing experience, the most disgraceful treatment I have ever encountered during my professional career! After posting a negative comment on the HSBC facebook page, I finally got things moving and our accounts were eventually re-opened. I have also requested that HSBC advise of all failed payments out and receipts in - they have not, some 3 weeks later done this, nor answered provided the other information I have requested in respect of this completely rediculous sitution.

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