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Bank CEOs summoned over account transfer issues

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Banks must do more to facilitate hundreds of thousands of customers being forced to move move their accounts, the Central Bank has said, as Ulster Bank and KBC prepare to shut down their Irish business.

The bank has summoned leaders to the remaining retail banks in the Irish market to a round table meeting.

More than one million accounts are looking for new homes. These include personal current accounts, savings accounts and company accounts.

There have been reports that customers are struggling to secure new arrangements, with many getting no further than dates some way in the future for meetings to discuss the issue with bank officials.

The Central Bank said banks need to have sufficient plans, preparations and resources in place to respond to unprecedented migration of accounts. They also need to ensure that the notification periods given to customers are sufficient to allow them to complete the transfer of their business, including direct debits and other account elements.

Special arrangements must also be put in place for vulnerable customers, it said.

“We are assertively supervising the banks to ensure they prioritise the interests of customers and prospective customers throughout this unprecedented volume of account migration,” said Derville Rowland, the director of financial conduct at the Central Bank.

Unprecedented

She said the roundtable with bank chief executives would focus on work by the banks to ensure consumers’ best interests are protected

“I acknowledge the unprecedented scale involved, and also acknowledge that staff within the banks are working extremely hard in challenging circumstances to provide customers with the services they require,” Ms Rowland said. “We are keenly aware of the impact on both staff and customers in that regard.

“But while recognising the challenge an exercise of this scale represents, it is also clear that, in terms of the banks’ overall plans, more needs to be done.”

The Central Bank said it will also carry out another review of the times customers are kept waiting for telephone customer service. The review will take place before the end of June. Banks were given an action plan to improve service after a previous waiting time review, which was supposed to ensure sufficient resources were available to manage both normal call volumes and to deal with surge events.



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