The awkward question
: an examination of questioning techniques used by banks to prevent financial crime

  • Annalise Vineer

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


For many years banks have been spending billions of pounds in their efforts to thwart both money laundering and terrorist financing activity. However, despite implementing a wide range of policies and procedures, forming international bodies to share best practice, and dramatically increasing the number of compliance staff, banks are still falling far short of both local and global expectations. Regulators are constantly criticising banks, enormous fines are regularly imposed and media attention continues to cause reputational damage. Adding to this burden, legal cases are becoming more commonplace, with courts pouring over the audit trails of risk assessment decisions. With banks attempting to implement fundamental changes, and with comprehensive and relatively consistent guidance already in place, the question as to why banks are failing so spectacularly is one that warrants an answer.
In keeping with the ethos of a Professional Doctorate, this thesis set out to contribute to both theory and professional practice. Consequently, the research needed to be global in nature to reflect the international aspects of banking. This study therefore spanned 17 different countries and examined a scarcely mentioned subject in banking; that is, precisely how employees go about raising difficult questions with their customers. It explored the inherent reasons why staff may feel uncomfortable in talking about delicate financial affairs, how confident they feel in challenging poor explanations from customers, and what training they have received to assist them in conducting effective investigations. This thesis has drawn from some of the questioning practices that have been effectively introduced across public and private sectors and considered whether elements of these could be implemented within banking.
Date of AwardDec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorBecky Milne (Supervisor) & Andie Shawyer (Supervisor)

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