Branch and ATM closures or conversions; good practice and areas for improvement

Find out more about the good and poor practice we have seen when supervising firms planning branch or ATM closures or conversions.

We want to ensure that bank branch and ATM (cash machines or cashpoints) closures or conversions are made in a way that takes proper account of customers’ needs. In September 2020, we issued guidance outlining our expectations of how firms should conduct their closure processes.

The examples below, although not exhaustive, set out the good practice we have seen since issuing this guidance and some areas where we expect to see improvements. In the examples provided, firms have engaged constructively to make improvements when their processes have fallen short of our expectations. We share this now to provide some clear examples on how firms can improve their approach and enable all firms to have the opportunity to learn from the good practice we have seen.

This piece forms part of our wider work on access to cash and banking services. We are committed to protecting access to cash, particularly for consumers with characteristics of vulnerability who rely on it.

Our expectations

Although the decision to close a bank branch or ATM or to convert a free-to-use ATM to a pay-to-use ATM is a commercial choice for firms, we expect firms to assess how planned closures or conversions will affect customers, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, and to make appropriate arrangements to ensure their needs are still met. For example, this includes assessing what alternative services firms could reasonably put in place to meet their needs.

Our guidance outlines how a bank may ensure it is adhering to the following principles:

  • Principle 6: A firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.
  • Principle 7: A firm must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading.
  • Principle 11: A firm must deal with its regulators in an open and cooperative way, and must disclose to the FCA appropriately anything relating to the firm of which that regulator would reasonably expect notice.  

Examples of good practice and areas for improvement

Next steps

We will continue to supervise bank branch and ATM closures and conversions to ensure fair treatment of customers. We are also supporting the Government as it develops legislation to protect access to cash.

Find out more about our work on the future of access to cash, including our next steps.