There are many ways to make a graceful exit, but neither Ulster bank still KBC seem familiar with them. A little more apprehension would have resulted in them avoiding battles rather than fighting them.
One million of their customers are now failing when trying to open new accounts. No doubt both banks will try to portray their departure less as a retreat than as a step in a different direction, but however they portray it, it was hardly a stellar exercise in customer service.
This is not acceptable given the resources and experience at their disposal.
The central bank governor has been spurred on to tell Ireland’s remaining banks they must do more to ensure customers are served when Ulster and KBC leave.
On one level you can have some sympathy for AIB and Bank of Ireland. The withdrawal has put a lot of pressure on them. But it’s also true that years of store closures and downsizing have weakened their ability to handle the extra business.
The intervention of Central Bank Governor Derville Rowland is therefore both revealing and timely.
She has made it clear to exiting banks that they must demonstrate that they have adequate plans and resources in place to meet the requirements. “We are closely monitoring banks to ensure they are prioritizing the interests of customers and prospects amid this unprecedented volume of account migrations,” she said.
Notwithstanding the scale of the challenge, certainly more could have been done.
Banks can find it difficult to do everything that needs to be done; nevertheless, they better show that they are doing everything they can.
The central bank’s customer-centric approach is to be welcomed – for too long it has been felt that our financial regulators put the interests of banks before those of their customers.
Labour’s finance spokesman Ged Nash has urged the central bank to insist that the exiting banks delay their exit until they can guarantee a smoother business transfer and a safer footing for those customers who remain.
Enforcing such an order may be problematic, but it can certainly highlight their behavior.
Customers must not be left in the lurch when looking for new arrangements. To be fobbed off with distant dates for possible transfer meetings is simply wrong.
Leaving everything to a computer and living in a faceless, contactless world seems like a fact of life. Customers can reluctantly settle for that, provided the trade-off is reliable, smooth, and efficient service.
If we watch this saga we might have gotten used to being treated by robotic processes, but humans will draw the line when treated like robots.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/departing-banks-customers-must-be-given-reassurances-41594602.html Reassurances must be given to the customers of the exiting banks