Branch Closure – Request for a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss the closure further
Bank Act, s. 459.2(2)
Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, s. 9(a)
After receiving a notice that her bank branch was closing, the consumer wrote to FCAC to request that the Commissioner call a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss the closure further.
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 ensure that the bank had consulted the community sufficiently about the closure.
Section 9(a) 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 in the area affected by the closure of a branch, where an individual or community representative submits a written request to the Commissioner, and where the request is not frivolous or vexatious.
The request to call a public meeting was not granted.
In monitoring the community's reaction to the closure, FCAC received only one request for a meeting and did not receive any complaints. Similarly, the bank informed FCAC that it also received only one complaint concerning the closure. The bank took a variety of steps to ease the transition from the closing to the receiving branch for customers, such as:
- automatically transferring all customers' accounts, including pre-authorized payments and direct deposits
- maintaining staff continuity by moving the majority of their staff to the new branch
- providing customers with complimentary cheques
- hosting a consumer appreciation day, following the move, and
- offering to automatically transfer accounts to alternate locations
Consultation 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
- Consulted local political representatives prior to announcing the closure publicly
- Provided coaching and guidance to their staff, and encouraged them to discuss the move proactively with customers
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. In the present case, FCAC determined that the bank consulted the affected community well enough to ascertain its views in regard to the closure of this branch.
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