Decision #79274-750Q305

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

File: 79274-750Q305

Compliance issue

Branch closure – Requirement to convene and hold a meeting

Bank Act, subsection 459.2(2)

Notice of Bank Closure (Banks) Regulations, section 9

A consumer contacted the agency to request that the Commissioner cause a bank to hold a community meeting concerning the proposed closure of two bank 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, between representatives of the bank, interested parties and the FCAC, in order to ensure that the bank had consulted the community sufficiently about the closure.

Section 9 of the Notice of Branch Closure (Banks) Regulations states that the Commissioner may require a bank to hold a public meeting in circumstances where the 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 require the bank to convene and hold a meeting.

Compliance considerations

A consumer wrote to request a public meeting between the bank, interested parties, and FCAC to discuss the closure and relocation of two bank branches. The consumer expressed concern that the location changes would adversely affect communities in the adjacent areas, the new location would not be close to any community and the new location would not be easily accessible by regular bus runs.

The bank met its obligation to inform customers, the Commissioner and the public of the branch closures in accordance with the Regulations. FCAC did not receive any other complaints about the relocation of the branches outside of the meeting request.

Consultation measures taken by financial institution

The bank responded that it:

  • complied with the regulations giving adequate notice to the Commissioner and customers of the impending closure;
  • established a pro-active, open and consultative process to address concerns raised by consumers; and
  • sent letters to all clients providing information on the new location and alternatives.

In addition, the branch manager held individual meetings with community representatives; staff members were coached to discuss the closures with clients.

The bank disclosed that the branch received 30 customer inquiries regarding the closures and relocation.

The bank informed FCAC and the public that the new location would have 4 ABMs, one drive thru ABM, full handicap accessibility, a larger waiting room and increased hours of operation.

Outcomes

It is important that consumer 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 Commissioner concluded that 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 options and alternatives and to plan for the closure.

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