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HSBC Restricts Employees’ Ability To Text On Work Cell Phones

The changed cell phone policy follows a recent incident that has placed HSBC under regulatory scrutiny.

In a move to tighten up employees’ personal communications on their work cell phones, HSBC, a financial services company, has reportedly implemented a ban on texting via company-issued phones.

The Oct. 17 decision to restrict text messaging on corporate phones is part of HSBC’s ongoing efforts to ensure strict compliance with regulatory obligations. This practice is not unique to HSBC, as many financial institutions change the functionality of their corporate devices to meet regulatory requirements.

“Banks use a wide range of approved channels to communicate in compliance with regulatory obligations,” a spokesperson for the bank told Bloomberg.

“HSBC, like many other banks, reviews and adjusts functionality on its corporate devices as needed.”

The changed cell phone policy follows a recent incident that placed HSBC under regulatory scrutiny. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) raised concerns about the bank’s failure to monitor the use of unauthorized messaging apps, like WhatsApp, resulting in record-keeping violations. Consequently, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission imposed fines of $30 million and $15 million, respectively, on HSBC, as detailed by HR Dive.

While the ban on texting applies to the majority of HSBC employees, a small group will retain the privilege of sending texts from their work phones, provided those messages are archived. This prohibition is confined to corporate devices and does not impact the use of personal phones.

As reported in an HR Dive article, HSBC is not the sole banking institution to face repercussions due to record-keeping infractions. Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley collectively agreed to pay $1.8 billion in September 2022 to resolve violations related to record-keeping issues.

Ensuring the ability to record, retain, and produce relevant business records is central to regulatory compliance and oversight.

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