Sector accepts need for banks to improve provision of account switching information

The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) is disappointed with the results of a mystery shopping exercise undertaken by the Financial Regulator which show that just 59% of bank branches visited were deemed to be satisfactory for the level, accuracy and helpfulness of information provided on account switching. IBF is fully committed to working with its member banks in further improving awareness levels about the account switching process among frontline staff in branches so that accurate and helpful information can be provided to customers interested in switching.

Mindful of the fact that the provision of customer information on switching is a requirement of the IBF Code of Practice on Account Switching, the IBF has written to all of the subscribing institutions to remind them of this and to request that they take immediate steps to address the shortcomings identified in the Financial Regulator’s research. For its part, IBF will be seeking updates on proposed actions from each of the institutions.

The Account Switching Code has been very successful since its introduction in January 2005. It has directly facilitated the switching of almost 59,000 personal accounts up to end-Dec. ’08 – amounting to an average of 14,750 switched accounts per year. The Code has also acted as an important catalyst for account switching outside of the structured Code process and indeed for customer mobility right across the range of financial services; and it has acted as a model for the EU-wide switching framework.

“While we welcome the fact that 59% of bank branches visited were found to be satisfactory, it is disappointing that as many as 41% were deemed to be unsatisfactory”, stated Eimer O’Rourke, IBF’s Head of Retail Banking. “It will always prove challenging for banks to attain a 100% record, but the sector must make every determined effort to do better than this. It’s because the Code has been so successful in operational terms, as reflected in the number of switchers to date, that we need to collectively address the shortcomings identified. As part of our latest communication to member banks, we have reissued the generic switching material that each bank is in a position to adopt and to brand as it sees fit. Moreover, we will continue to liaise closely with the Financial Regulator to help bring about the desired improvement”, she concluded.

Note to Journalists

The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) is the leading representative body for the banking and financial services sector in Ireland, representing over 70 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Further Information: Felix O’Regan, Head of PR and Public Affairs, IBF, tel. 01 6715311, 087 6481644

IBF Statement on Remuneration in Banking

The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) notes the publication of the government-appointed Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee (CIROC) and accompanying Government statement. IBF fully recognises the changed reality for the economy and financial services marketplace, both locally and internationally, and the need to reflect this reality in setting appropriate levels of remuneration for Chief Executives and non-executive directors in covered institutions. Indeed, the report acknowledges that current remuneration levels have already moved significantly in this regard.

Note to Journalists 
The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) is the leading representative body for the banking and financial services sector in Ireland, representing over 70 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Further Information: Felix O’Regan, Head of PR and Public Affairs, IBF, tel. 6715311, 087 6481644

IBF welcomes Dublin’s ranking as a top 10 financial centre

IBF welcomes Dublin’s top 10 ranking in the Global Financial Centres Index, a step-up of three places from the previous Index.
This result is very positive for the standing of our International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and Ireland’s reputation as a location for international financial services – coming as it does from key executive decision-makers who operate in international markets and who are well informed. Given the recent turbulence in international markets and the negative commentary about the IFSC emanating from some quarters, Dublin’s ranking in tenth position out of 62 global financial centres represents a welcome vote of confidence from the international community. It is especially heartening that of the centres most rated by respondents not based there, Dublin’s ranking rises to fourth.
Going forward, the focus must be on shaping the most appropriate policy and regulatory environment” to deliver continued success.

Note to Journalists 
The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) is the leading representative body for the banking and financial services sector in Ireland, representing over 70 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Further Information: Felix O’Regan, Head of PR and Public Affairs, IBF, tel. 6715311, 087 6481644

House repossession remains at very low level, says IBF

Data published today by the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) confirms that house repossession remains at a very low level here. The total number of houses repossessed by all mainstream mortgage lenders in 2008 was 96. At 0.01%, this represents a fraction of the total number of mortgages issued.

The level of repossession of residential properties in Ireland is very low by international standards. For example, for every 10,000 mortgages issued, one results in repossession here compared with 35 in the UK – demonstrating a significantly different approach to arrears management between the two markets.

Furthermore, the recent introduction on a statutory basis of the Code of Practice on Mortgage Arrears (which builds on the original IBF voluntary code), and its extension to cover all mortgage lenders, will provide an added measure of reassurance to mortgage borrowers at this time. Under the Code:

Lenders must adopt flexible procedures for handling mortgage arrears and assist the borrower as far as possible – whereby consideration can be given on a case-by-case basis to deferral of payments, extending term of mortgage, changing type of mortgage, or capitalising arrears and interest

Lenders must wait of at least six months (12 months for the two recapitalised banks) from the time of arrears first arising before applying to the court to commence legal action for repossession.

“While the number of repossession applications to the courts has increased, this number bears little or no relation to the actual number of properties repossessed”, according to IBF’s Chief Executive, Pat Farrell. “Increased activity in this area is reflective of the general economic slowdown and we can expect this to continue to be the case. However, the importance and value of early communication by borrowers with their lenders cannot be emphasised enough. Where repayment difficulties arise for some borrowers because of changed economic or social circumstances, the borrower should talk to his/her lender at the earliest opportunity”, he stated.

Note to Journalists 
The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) is the leading representative body for the banking and financial services sector in Ireland, representing over 70 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Further Information: Felix O’Regan, Head of PR and Public Affairs, IBF, tel. 6715311, 087 6481644