Branch closure – Request for a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to discuss the closure.
Bank Act, s. 459.2(2)
Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, s. 9(a)
A consumer wrote to FCAC on behalf of a community organization, to request that the Commissioner call a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss the closure of a branch. FCAC received a second request from an individual writing on behalf of the City Council of the local community.
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 the present case, the Commissioner felt that the bank had sufficiently consulted the community to ascertain the views of interested persons. The bank also took a variety of steps to ease the transition from the closing to the receiving branch for customers, such as:
- automatically transferring all customer accounts, including pre-authorized payments and direct deposits;
- maintaining staff continuity by moving the majority of their staff to the new branch;
- offering to assist consumers wishing to transfer accounts to alternate locations.
Consultation measures taken by financial institution
- Held a meeting with several members of the community approximately one year prior to the closure to discuss the business prospects and future outlook of the branch.
- 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 and community associations to discuss the closure.
- Contacted consumers to discuss the closure in-branch, via telephone and through house calls.
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 had consulted the affected community well enough to ascertain the views of interested persons with regard to the closure of this branch.
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