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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

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