Decision #238159-616Q307

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 79274-750Q305

Compliance issue

Branch closure — Request for a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to discuss the branch closure

Bank Act, paragraph 459.2(2)
Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, section 9

A consumer asked the FCAC Commissioner to require a bank to convene and hold a meeting between representatives of the bank, FCAC representatives and interested parties to discuss the bank's decision to close a branch.

As per paragraph 459.2(2) of the Bank Act, the Commissioner may require a bank to convene and hold a meeting among representatives of the bank, representatives of the Agency and interested parties in the community where the branch is located to ensure that the bank has consulted with the community enough concerning the closure.

Section 9 of the Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations states that the Commissioner may require a public meeting to be held if the bank has not consulted enough with the community affected by the branch closure, if an individual or a community representative from the area affected by the closure submits a written request, and the request is neither frivolous nor vexatious.

Decision taken

The Acting Commissioner did not grant the request for a public meeting.

Compliance considerations

In reviewing an individual’s request for a public meeting, the Commissioner looks at the measures the bank has taken to consult with the community, as well as the community’s reaction to the branch closure. In this case, the Agency only received one request for a meeting. The bank also informed FCAC that, at the time the request was made, the bank had not received any other complaints about the closure.

In keeping with the Regulations, the bank provided adequate, sufficient notice to its clients, the public and the Commissioner before closing the branch.

Corrective measures taken by financial institution

The bank sent a letter to all of the branch’s clients, informing them about the closure. The bank also made sure it provided telephone numbers that clients could call if they had any questions or concerns. Branch employees were proactive in calling clients whom they thought would be most affected by the closure, to talk about the decision. Employees also discussed the closure with clients who came into the branch.

Outcomes

Consumers need to be able to communicate openly with their bank when it is closing one of its branches so that they, and other community members, can figure out how to reduce any negative impact the branch closure may have on them and on the community as a whole.

In this case, the bank had consulted with the community enough to ascertain its views and ensure that consumers had received all of the information they needed to explore their personal banking options and plan for the branch closure.

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