Concerns older people not switching accounts from Ulster Bank and KBC

Bank of Ireland sees record current account openings as 61 branches set to open at weekends to support customers

Bank of Ireland has seen record current account openings in recent weeks as customers move their accounts from Ulster Bank and KBC ahead of their exit from the Irish market, but has raised concerns that older people may not yet have begun the process of switching.

Since the start of the year, 27 per cent of new personal current accounts have been opened by 35-39 year olds and 20 per cent by 25-34 year olds. About 18 per cent of accounts have been opened by 50-64 year olds and 13 per cent opened by those aged over 65.

With 42 per cent of customers who moved their account aged under 35, the bank said it may be the case that customers with more complex banking requirements who have been with their bank a long time need additional support and are waiting to switch.

In response to this, Bank of Ireland will open 61 branches around the country on Saturday as well as on the following two Saturdays to support customers intending to move current accounts.


The bank will also waive its standard overdraft facility fee of €30 in the first year for customers moving accounts.

Bank of Ireland said September had seen a particular spike in account switching among 18-24 year olds as students return to colleges and universities.

Bank of Ireland analysis also shows that the top three counties of movers to date (by per cent of population) are Longford, Cavan and Louth.

Ulster leads for switcher activity by province, followed by Connacht and Leinster. Munster is the province that lags by comparison.

Bank of Ireland director of retail Susan Russell said: “During September, there has been a 13 per cent increase in customers using our digital channels for personal current accounts when compared to August.

“We also appreciate that certain customers may prefer face-to-face support and have not yet had the chance to visit a branch during the week.

“By opening 61 of our branches on October 8th, 15th and 22nd, customers can get advice in person or open an account with us there and then.”

Ulster Bank this week decided to extend by a month the deadline for customers whose accounts faced being frozen at the end of this week.

The bank had started to issue six-months’ notice periods to customers in April to find alternative homes for their everyday banking. The first wave of customers were set to have their accounts frozen on October 8th, before being closed 30 days later.

The UK-owned lender announced in February that it was withdrawing from the Irish market, following years of subpar profit returns.

Of the customers who received their first formal notification in April and May, already 64 per cent have either closed or wound down their current account, or left it approaching inactive or dormant status.

“While Ulster Bank has extended the first account closures deadline to the start of November, we would encourage customers not to wait so that they have enough time to make all the related changes to their accounts,” said Ms Russell.

She said these could include setting up direct debits from the new accounts with utilities and services.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter