Banks to take steps to support bereaved customers

Banks to take steps to support bereaved customers

The five main banks in Ireland are to set up dedicated phone lines to help bereaved customers, in an effort to improve the care of those who have lost loved ones.

Access will also be given by the financial institutions to any available funds of the deceased to assist with covering the cost of the funeral.

The measures are a number included in a common commitment agreed by AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank through the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB).

“Losing a loved one is a traumatic event in anyone’s life, and banks should work to ensure they help those who are grieving as much as possible,” said Mr Justice John Hedigan, Chair of the IBCB.

Marketing materials addressed to the deceased will also be stopped as quickly as possible by banks under the plan.

The institutions have also committed to using straightforward and understandable language in order to make information on services that are available to bereaved customers easily accessible.

Reviews of the processes for dealing with bereaved customers will also be carried out on an ongoing basis as part of the measures.

The banks are also pledging to support bereaved customers throughout the process, treating them with empathy at all times.

Information to help those who have lost a loved one will be made available through the websites of the banks and the IBCB.

The development marks the first collaborative announcement by the IBCB, which was established earlier this year to improve culture across the banking sector following the financial crisis.

Its research revealed that dealing with banks after the loss of a loved one was a major source of stress and anxiety for many people.

According to the IBCB, between them the five signatory banks help around 50,000 bereaved customers each year.

However, feedback to the IBCB has found that there is a low level of awareness of the support services available from the banks for people who find themselves in this situation.

The initiative has been welcomed by the Irish Hospice Foundation.

“Empathy and prompt, sensitive communication are key and this systematic approach will help staff to better support bereaved customers all over Ireland,” said Sharon Foley, Irish Hospice Foundation’s chief executive.

The IBCB said that through its work on this matter it has found that there is a wider societal issue about the importance of people proactively preparing their financial affairs, such as through making a will for example.

It said it would now help address the problem through financial education and collaboration with other organisations and the industry.

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Banks claim that tracker scandal cases fall outside of time limit

Banks claim that tracker scandal cases fall outside of time limit

Hundreds of homeowners who believe they were caught up in the tracker mortgage scandal may have left it too late to get compensation, if the banks involved get their way.

According to RTÉ, Financial Services Ombudsman Ger Deering has raised concerns that some of the banks involved in the tracker mortgage scandal are now claiming that complaints fall outside the six-year legal window.

Mr Deering revealed that 103 of 1,141 complaints he received from mortgage holders are currently being assessed as to whether they fall outside the statutory time limit. He revealed there may be even more cases.

“Based on our current experience, I believe that as we progress additional complaints to investigation, there will be more complaints where the statutory time limits will be an issue,” he told RTÉ.

“My best estimate at this stage is that a time limit assessment will most likely be required on over 400 of those complaints.

“Legislation setting out the time limits is so complicated,” he said, adding that “this office in some instances spends at least as much time dealing with assessments relating to time limits as it would in conducting a full formal investigation of the merits of that same complaint”.

Mr Deering said some banks were “rigorously challenging the jurisdiction of this office to deal with complaints where there is a question in relation to whether the complaint was made outside the time limits”.

This is despite an agreement not to raise the issue of statutes of limitations as a defence as part of an agreement between institutions and the Central Bank.

Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath said: “Whatever banks are adopting this approach of invoking the time limit and trying to prevent those cases being dealt with, they really need to change.”

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Irish bank shares and sterling hit amid Brexit political chaos

Irish bank shares and sterling hit amid Brexit political chaos

Irish bank shares and the pound fell sharply yesterday as investors confronted the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

With Ireland’s economy significantly exposed to a no-deal scenario, Permanent TSB lost almost 6.5pc, AIB lost 5.35pc and Bank of Ireland lost 4.87pc – all serving to reduce the value of the taxpayers’ remaining holdings in those banks.

The pound fell as much as 1.5pc versus the dollar as the political turmoil showed no sign of easing, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying that if British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan fails to get parliamentary approval again it would “guide everyone to a hard exit”.

The pound could slump about 8pc from current levels if the UK left without a deal, according to a Bloomberg survey. “The possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit has increased,” said Calvin Tse, North American head of G10 foreign-exchange strategy at Citigroup.

“They are likely to scrape something together at the last minute, but the risk remains that we fall over the cliff.”

Additional reporting Bloomberg

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