HSBC Prepare CSV bookmarklet for FreeAgent: Download previous statements on HSBC Personal accounts

I have an HSBC Advance account. It's a premium personal current account (ok, you can stop looking at me like I'm a fool – I get travel insurance and stuff. OK, OK, and I'm gullible!) You would think that one feature of a current account in this day and age, whether premium or not, would be the ability download previous statements in a data format or some sort.

In fact, for some inexplicable reason which must make perfect sense to you if you're a fat cat making billions after being bailed out by taxpayer's – i.e., our – money, HSBC allows you to do download statements in a variety of formats but only for recent transactions. As of this writing, my recent transactions only go as far back as the start of January, 2011. I also have access to "previous statements" that date back to the start of last year but – and it's a big but – I can't download them. I can print them but that's about it. WTF indeed.

Since I've recently started using the excellent FreeAgent and I really want to get a grip on my finances and accounting, I need to import my personal bank transactions into FreeAgent alongside my business accounts. This braindead artificial limitation imposed by HSBC was stopping me from doing that. So I fixed it. And with that, I give you the HSBC Prepare CSV bookmarket.


HSBC Prepare CSV

You see the link above? (Yes, the one pointed to by the arrows!) Drag it to your browser's bookmark toolbar to create a bookmarklet.

Install the bookmarklet by dragging it to your browser's toolbar

That's it, you're done!


The copy to clipboard icon

  1. Sign in to your HSBC Personal account and navigate to a previous statement.
  2. Click the "HSBC Prepare CSV" bookmarklet you created earlier.
  3. A little copy-to-clipboard icon will be inserted into your statement. Click it to copy the generated CSV to your system clipboard.
  4. In your text editor of choice, create a new file and paste the generated CSV into it.
  5. Save the file with a meaningful name like 2011-02-07-HSBC-Personal.csv (as opposed to a generic statement.csv or transactions.csv as HSBC's system insists on naming files when it does allow you to download them</rantOff>).

Once you've downloaded your statements using the above process, you can upload them to FreeAgent.

I hope you enjoy using the bookmarklet and that it helps you with your bookkeeping/accounting.

(It is my sincerest hope that HSBC will fix this huge oversight and that this bookmarklet will not be needed for much longer. If this blog post helps to shame them into doing it, all the better.)


If you like the bookmarklet and haven't heard of FreeAgent yet, why not sign up with my referral code – 3aixj8xt – (or via one of the links in this article), and we'll both get 10% off.


The generated CSV is in the AMEX CSV format published by FreeAgent. This is the simplest CSV format they accept and the only one that is currently published.

You can see the source code for the HSBC Prepare CSV script here to make sure that it's not doing anything nefarious with your bank data.

I am talking to the lovely folks at FreeAgent at the moment to see if we can't capture a bit more of the information from HSBC personal accounts in a slightly more involved CSV format in the future.


The HSBC Prepare CSV bookmarklet would not have been possible without the following resources and components: