FCA has issued an update to its previous statement of 25 March, setting out its expectations of firms as they reinstate services in line with government guidance. The update also gives advice for consumers who may need to access bank branch services.
FCA highlights that it does not expect banking services to fully return to normal immediately. Firms will need to follow government guidance and continue to balance the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of their staff.
Firms should also continue to consider the needs of their most vulnerable customers who may struggle to access essential services, particularly if they are self-isolating. Essential services for these customers may include access to cash, telephone banking and the ability to make in-person payments through third parties.
Priorities for firms
FCA says it has been working closely with firms to help them move towards reinstating services for customers in a consistent way. It expects that firms will prioritise several areas, including:
- Continuing to ensure essential services are available for the most vulnerable customers and expand capacity where possible. As part of this, firms will proactively contact these customers to make sure they know about the services they offer for those self-isolating, and how they can contact their bank if they do not have access to online banking.
- Where possible, and in line with relevant government guidelines, reinstating access to cash and essential services in local areas which have lost access to bank branches or cash during the crisis.
- Where it is not possible to reinstate access, and in areas where a reduced service remains, ensuring that there is clear communication to customers through websites and physical signs at branches to signpost to alternatives, such as Post Office services.
FCA will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that firms are taking consistent approaches and communicating clearly with their customers.
Advice for consumers
FCA says consumers should continue to use alternatives to branches where possible, e.g. online banking. However, the regulator recognises that there will be consumers (including vulnerable consumers) who need to access bank branch services and says consumers should contact their banking provider if they need such access. FCA expects firms to provide consumers with further information and help on the options available to them.