We’ve updated our original guidance to clarify our expectations of firms when they are considering the closure of a branch or the conversion of free-to-use ATMs (cash machines or cashpoints).
Why we are publishing this guidance
We want to protect consumers by making sure firms consider the impact of a planned closure or conversion of a branch or ATMs on their customers’ everyday banking needs and the availability and provision of alternatives. While the decision on whether to close or convert a branch or ATM is for firms to take, they must pay due regard to the interests of their customers and treat them fairly while considering or implementing this decision.
We first published guidance in September 2020 (FG20/3). We have since learnt from our experience supervising firms against this original guidance. While we have seen examples of good practice, some firms have fallen short of expectations outlined in our original guidance.
In some cases we have seen firms making decisions to remove facilities such as counter services from branches, or to permanently and significantly reduce the hours that branches are open, rather than fully closing branches. Firms will now need to consider our guidance when planning a full closure of a branch or proposing a reduction in branch opening hours/days or services where this would have a significant impact on customers.
In GC22/2 we consulted on updating our original guidance to clarify our expectations and make sure firms support customers effectively through any changes to branch networks. This finalised guidance provides that update and replaces FG20/3.
Who this applies to
This guidance applies to regulated firms that operate (or have agents operate) branches, or ATMs (cash machine or cashpoint), and who are subject to Principles 6, 7, and 11 of our Principles for Businesses (‘Principles’).
The updated guidance applies from 11 October 2022 and continues to have effect until varied or revoked.
Alongside our work to make sure firms treat their customers fairly, the government is proposing new powers in the Financial Services and Markets Bill to help protect access to cash. Find out more about this on our helping people access cash page.