Branch Closure – Request for a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to discuss a closure
Bank Act, subsection 459.2(2)
Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, paragraph 9(a)
FCAC received a meeting request from the reeve of a particular community which indicated that the community was not adequately consulted prior to a bank branch closure and that inaccurate information was contained in the letter and newspaper ads regarding the “Public Information” meeting organized by the bank. The reeve asked that the Commissioner require the bank to convene and hold a meeting between the bank, interested parties and representativs of FCAC to discuss the bank’s decision to close the branch.
According to subsection 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 has consulted the community sufficiently about the branch closure.
Paragraph 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 branch closure, where an individual or community representative submits a written request to the Commissioner, and where the request is not frivolous or vexatious.
The Commissioner did not grant the request to require a bank to convene and hold a public meeting.
The Commissioner reviewed the bank’s actions and monitored the level of reaction from the bank’s customer base. FCAC’s phone number was included on the branch closure notices sent to customers of the branch. FCAC received one meeting request on behalf of the community, and no consumer complaints. The bank received one consumer complaint.
Consultation measures taken by financial institution
Seven months before the closure, the bank notified clients in writing that the branch would close and move to a neighbouring town.
The bank met with the reeve and other community leaders.
The bank held a customer information session attended by 14 customers and residents.
The bank did publish the incorrect address for the customer information session, but addressed the error by instructing bank branch employees to advise customers of the error, by posting a notice with the correct information in both branches and by stationing a person at the incorrect address to redirect any customers to the correct address of the meeting.
It is important for consumers to be able to communicate openly with their bank in the event of a branch closure. This provides consumers and community members with an opportunity to explore ways to ease any negative impact that the closure may have on them and on the community as a whole. In this case, the bank had consulted sufficiently with the community to obtain its views and to ensure that consumers had the information they needed to assess their alternatives and plan for the closure.
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