Decision #467114-585Q206

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 467114-585Q206

Compliance issue

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 letter from a consumer regarding the closure of his local bank branch. The bank recently decided not to reopen the branch, which had been destroyed by fire two years before. No consultation meeting was held, but customers were notified of the decision and advised to continue to bank at the branch to which they had been relocated following the fire. The consumer asked that the Commissioner require the bank to convene and hold a meeting between the bank, interested parties and representatives of FCAC to further 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 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 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.

Decision taken

The Commissioner did not grant the request to require the bank to convene and hold a public meeting.

Considerations

The Commissioner reviewed the bank’s actions and monitored the level of reaction from the bank’s customer base. FCAC’s phone number is included on the branch closure notices sent to customers of the branch. FCAC received one request for a meeting and no complaints or inquiries.

Consultation measures taken by financial institution

The bank did not organize a community meeting regarding the closure of the destroyed branch because the clients of the old branch had been doing their banking at the new location for the past two years.

The bank provided a dedicated number for customers to call to reach a bank employee if they have questions or concerns about the closure.

The mayor, city counsellor and local members of Parliament were notified.

Outcomes

It is important that consumers 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 of easing any negative impact 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 ascertain 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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