Decision — File #23936-307Q204

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

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 closure further

Bank Act, s 459.2(2)

Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, s. 9(a)

A consumer wrote to FCAC on behalf of the local business community to request that the Commissioner call a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss the closure further. The consumer's request included a petition signed by 90 consumers.

According to section 459.2(2) of the Bank Act, the Commissioner may require the bank to convene and hold a meeting, in the vicinity of the branch, between representatives of the bank, interested parties and FCAC, in order to exchange views about the closure.

Section 9 of the Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations states that the Commissioner may require a public meeting in circumstances where a bank has not sufficiently consulted the community well enough to ascertain its views on the closure, where an individual or community representative submits a written request to the Commissioner, and where the request is not frivolous or vexatious.

Decision taken

The request to call a public meeting was granted.

Compliance considerations

FCAC received a request for a meeting from one individual on behalf of the business community located in the shopping plaza where the closing branch was located. FCAC also received one complaint about the branch closure. While the bank met its legal obligation to inform consumers and the Commissioner of the branch closure, the community reaction, as expressed by the petition, suggested that the bank had not consulted the community sufficiently in order to ascertain its views.

Corrective measures taken by financial institution

  • Sent letters to each customer of the branch concerning the branch closure, which included phone numbers to call in case customers had any questions or concerns.
  • Held consultations with local political representatives prior to the public announcement of the closure.
  • Provided coaching and guidance to staff to encourage them to proactively discuss the move with customers.
  • Undertook a variety of initiatives to ease the transition from the closing to the receiving branch for customers, including:
    • automatically transferring all customer's accounts;
    • providing customers with complimentary cheques;
    • maintaining staff continuity by moving all staff to the new branch; and
    • extending banking hours at the receiving branch.

Outcomes

Consumers must be aware of, and have the ability to exercise, their right to communicate openly with their bank in the event of a branch closure. It is important that consumers be given the opportunity to discuss the branch closure with their bank, so that they are able to explore ways of easing any negative impact the closure may have on their lives and on the community as a whole.

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