On 28 January 2021, the FCA issued a new webpage reminding banks of the guidance it published last September on branch closures and ATM closures and conversions.
On the webpage the FCA states that in line with the guidance, banks should consider the impact of branch closures on customers and that where they are unable to meet the expectations in the guidance during the lockdown, they should consider pausing or delaying new branch closures where possible, particularly where this could have a significant impact on vulnerable customers. Where banks consider it is appropriate to continue with plans during lockdown, the FCA states that it expects them to have considered the guidance and be able to demonstrate how they have taken its concerns and expectations into account. If banks are considering new closures or advancing those previously announced during lockdown, the FCA expects them to:
- Communicate with customers in a way that is clear, fair and not misleading to inform them of the closure proposals.
- Particular consideration should be given to the best way to make sure vulnerable and hard-to-reach customers are aware of the proposals and are able to contact the firm.
- Give customers clear information about how the firm can help them access alternatives during this period of national restrictions, for example supporting the use of online banking.
- Where appropriate, engage with customers to understand their needs and properly consider how they will be affected by the proposals.