Ulster Bank tells customers to get ready to close accounts

Bank will contact personal customers early next year to give them six months’ notice

Ulster Bank customers will be given six months' notice to close their accounts and find a new provider from early next year, the bank said on Friday.

Ulster Bank said it was “encouraging customers to get ready” for changes coming in 2022 as part of its withdrawal from the Irish market. In the meantime, it said it was continuing to serve existing customers, and that no action was required by customers yet.

“Ulster Bank will contact customers directly when they need to take action and this will commence in early 2022 when we plan to begin to serve formal account closure notice to current account and deposit account customers,” it said.

“In advance of this, Ulster Bank is encouraging customers to consider their options, avail of supports and get ready to choose a new banking provider, particularly for customers’ current and deposit accounts.

“Over the coming months, we will engage with customers, including those who might need more support, to help them to get ready to choose a new provider, with a view to move and close their accounts.

“However, if customers are ready now, we are encouraging them to review their Ulster Bank accounts or make an appointment to review their Ulster Bank accounts.”

If no action is taken, customer accounts will be closed with a cheque issued for any remaining balance.

Changes to new business

In addition, the changes to new business announced in July come into effect at close of business on Friday.

The bank will cease to accept applications from new and existing personal banking customers for new products at close of business on Friday, with the main exception of mortgages, which will remain available for existing customers only.

For existing business customers, products and services remain available. The exception to this is Lombard Asset Finance, which remains open for new and existing customers.

Ulster Bank mortgage customers do not need to take any action for now as the bank is in discussions with other banks in the Irish market to transfer mortgages with their existing terms and conditions.

The bank said business customers will also be contacted early next year and given six months’ notice. For customers with performing business lending products, their lending product will most likely transfer to another bank.

Ulster Bank said it will not close any of its 88 branches in 2021, and that it does “not anticipate” closing any branches in the first six months of 2022. It said there would be “in-person support” available for people in branches.

However, it said it would begin to phase out traditional counter and cash services to concentrate on in-person support for customers to move bank and/or close accounts in the first half of next year.

“Getting this right is so important and that is why we are encouraging customers to think about their options so they can be prepared ahead of us writing to them with formal notice closure in 2022,” said Ulster Bank chief executive Jane Howard.

Ms Howard said customers may not have noticed many changes yet, but this is expected to change over the coming months.

“We will continue to update and signpost changes for customers and colleagues, including on other products and services which are not covered by today’s announcement,” she added.

Results

Results for the third quarter published on Friday show that Ulster Bank increased its income in the Republic to €171 million from €145 million a year earlier.

The bank posted an operating profit of €46 million for the three months to the end of September, up from just €1 million a year ago and a reversal of the €20 million loss recorded in the second quarter of this year.

Net loans to customers fell by €4.1 billion, or 21.1 per cent, compared with the second quarter of this 2021, reflecting the reclassification of €3.7 billion of loans agreed to be sold to AIB as assets held for sale.

A net impairment release of €19 million in the third quarter reflected “improvements in the mortgage and commercial portfolios”, the bank said.

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