Decision #68630-369Q104

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 68620-369Q104

Compliance issue

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 notice that their bank branch was closing, a 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.

Decision taken

The request to call a public meeting was not granted.

Compliance considerations

The bank met its legal obligation to inform customers, the Commissioner and the public of the branch closure. FCAC received one request for a meeting and no complaints about the branch closure. The bank informed FCAC that less than one per cent of its client base made a complaint concerning the closure.

Consultation measures taken by financial institution

  • Sent letters to each customer concerning the branch closure, which included phone numbers of both the closing and receiving branch, in case customers had any questions or concerns.
  • Held consultations with local political representatives prior to the public announcement of the closure.
  • Requested that the landlord of the receiving branch create two new additional handicapped accessible parking spots. This request was honoured, and two new spots were created directly in front of the branch.
  • Undertook a variety of initiatives to ease the transition from the closing to the receiving branch for customers, including:
    • automatically transferring all customer's accounts, including pre-authorized payments and direct deposits;
    • maintaining staff continuity by moving all staff to the new branch;
    • installing an additional ABM; and
    • extending banking hours at the receiving branch.

Outcomes

Consumers must be aware of, and have the ability to exercise, their right to communicate openly with their bank in the event of a branch closure. In this case, FCAC determined that the bank had met its obligations to consumers by providing enough advance notice for the community to react. 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.

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