Reimagining Financial Crime Investigations

Joe Robinson

CEO & Co-Founder


Today marks the launch of a major Hummingbird product update. The update is wide-ranging, and contains many new features and functional improvements to our platform, but the most important change (and the one we’re most excited about) is the unveiling of an entirely new way of doing compliance work.

We’re calling it the Investigation Canvas.


An entirely new platform

What is it? The Investigation Canvas is a redesigned workspace for compliance professionals – a suite of new features that completely reimagines what’s possible from investigation work. It represents more than a year of dedicated thinking and effort, as well as input from top-tier financial institutions. Overall, we see it as the next big step forward towards our goal of providing investigation teams with the best possible toolkit for compliance.

Historically, financial crime investigations have been conducted using fragmented systems and disparate data sources. This information was often assembled into spreadsheets by investigators, who were well-aware that the spreadsheet wasn’t the right tool for making connections or maintaining an auditable record. When Hummingbird launched in 2017, we focused on providing tools that addressed an investigator’s most acute pain points. But our platform has rapidly expanded, growing into a fully-fledged compliance CRM. Today’s update, with all that it contains, serves as a major milestone in our development.  

Seeing the big picture

The Investigation Canvas is the new starting point for all compliance casework happening in Hummingbird. Knowing that this is often a point where investigators – used to working many cases simultaneously – suffer from information overload, we focused on redesigning the layout to maximize the amount of information presented. In doing so, we were careful to design it in such a way that the ‘big picture’ was never lost. Our product design team worked carefully with expert investigators to develop a curated assembly of key case components that would stimulate the investigative mindset. The end result sets a new standard for financial crime investigations, and we feel confident it will empower analysts and investigators to make more informed, strategic decisions when approaching a case.


Another key upgrade contained within the Investigation Canvas is a more natural and seamless way of ingesting and parsing complex information. Moving rapidly between different data sources is par for the course with compliance professionals – it comes with the territory. One minute, an AML investigator is peering into the nitty-gritty details of a single flagged transaction, the next they’re mapping a subject’s location history from 20,000 feet. With a legacy system, supporting this type of daring mental acrobatics involves a teetery system of different applications and (all too often) the precarious arrangement of dozens of browser windows.

Not anymore.

The Investigation Canvas is designed to flexibly respond to a compliance professional’s needs, allowing them to avoid filtering or formatting data and instead maximize the time spent employing the investigative skill-set that is their specialty. Using the Investigation Canvas, a compliance professional can rapidly telescope between the finest details and a top-level overview. Need to deep-dive into a unique subject area? The canvas will guide you to a space dedicated to that activity. Our knowledge of the investigative process allowed us to build a tool that allows information to be accessed in stages, a key benefit to investigators constantly looking to filter out noise and focus only on what’s important.

On-platform collaboration

One of the most important (but often sadly neglected) elements of financial crime investigations is team collaboration. Compliance professionals are all aware that they work in tandem with law enforcement, but what of collaboration within their own team? Investigations too often feel like it’s being done in a vacuum, with traditional tools unable to share knowledge or insight. In building the Investigation Canvas, addressing this underserved aspect of compliance was a key design goal.

The new workspace offers a number of ways for teams to work cases collaboratively. Two new features – connected entities and related cases – allow you to see common elements as they appear both in your organization’s main database and in other cases. Separately, the investigation canvas now allows for a shared view of any case-in-progress. Investigators can now jointly examine a case, rather than working in siloes or poking around the same source of raw data. Together, these innovations represent a huge leap forward in maximizing compliance teams’ ability to function as a group, rather than a collection of individuals.

Wrap Up

When it comes to developing our product, our philosophy at Hummingbird has always been simple: listen carefully, think hard, and build tools for the people who use them. The tools we’ve created reflect that philosophy: they provide richer contextual information, adjustable levels of detail, and increased collaboration. We believe that the product launching today represents the first big step towards an entirely new way of investigating financial crime. We’re proud of what we’ve made, and are excited about the continuing journey ahead of us.

We’ll conclude with a small anecdote. The name, “Investigation Canvas,” was inspired by an offhand comment we once heard from an investigator.

Compliance work, they said, was too often like “being told to paint but being given no canvas to work on.”

Well, break out your brushes. Because the canvas is here.

Want to hear more about the Investigation Canvas and other ways we’re changing compliance for the better? Learn more here.


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