Decision #51152-552Q207

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 51152-552Q207

Compliance issue

Branch closure — Request for a public meeting between the bank, interested parties and FCAC to discuss the branch closure
Bank Act, s. 459.2(2)
Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations, s.9

A consumer requested that the Commissioner require a bank to convene and hold a meeting among the bank, interested parties and FCAC representatives to discuss the bank’s decision to close one of its branches.

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, among representatives of the bank, interested parties and FCAC, to ensure that the bank has consulted sufficiently with the community 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 consulted sufficiently with the community in the area affected by the closure of a branch, or where an individual or community representative submits a written request to the Commissioner, or where the request is not frivolous or vexatious.

Decision taken

The Commissioner did not grant the request for a public meeting.

Compliance considerations

When the Commissioner considers a consumer’s request to hold a public meeting, he reviews the measures that the bank took to consult the community, and the community’s reaction to the closure. In this particular case, FCAC received only one request for a meeting. The bank also informed FCAC that, at the time of the request, it had not received any complaints concerning the closure.

The bank provided sufficient and proper notice to consumers, the public and the Commissioner prior to the closure, in accordance with the Regulations.

Measures taken by financial institution

The bank sent a letter announcing the closure to all of the branch’s customers. The letter included phone numbers that customers could call if they had any questions or concerns. In addition, branch employees were proactive in calling customers to discuss the planned closure, and also discussed it with clients who visited the branch.

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 to ease any negative impact the closure may have on them and on the community as a whole.

In this case, the bank had consulted with the community enough to become aware of its views and to ensure that consumers had the information they needed to find alternatives for their personal banking needs and to plan for the closure.

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