I’m just wondering when Ulster Bank will actually be closing to customers? I am a little confused by the wind down period or when do I need to move banks.
Ms D.M., email
It is indeed a little confusing because the bank has yet to clarify matters. They have said they will wind down operations “over a number of years”, which is comforting but not exactly clear.
What is clear is that there is no urgency here. The bank has said it is operating as normal for now and that it will be in touch with customers. Much remains to be sorted – not least who is going to buy all Ulster Bank’s various loan books. You will have plenty of time to weigh up what other banks are offering and see what best suits your needs.
When Danske Bank announced in October 2013 that they were pulling their retail bank out of Ireland, they said they would give customers at least two months’ notice of any changes. In the end, they closed most customer accounts four months later with some remaining open for a further four months.
They also continued to manage any personal loans and mortgages until they were fully paid in line with the arrangements in place with customers.
With Ulster Bank, personal current account and deposit holders do not yet know what will happen and the timeline but their accounts will close at some point.
I recall that, under Central Bank guidance, Danske did a lot of the niggly admin work when it came to switching personal accounts bank in 2014. Now there is a Central Bank of Ireland Code of Conduct on the Switching of Payment Accounts with Payment Service Providers which sets the ground rules.
And all the banks to which you might consider moving your account should have a “switching pack” explaining the process in easy to understand terms. They should also have information on exactly what they are prepared to offer - such as online banking options, overdrafts and, importantly, charging structure etc.
It would be no harm to do the rounds and pick up this informaiton now so you can get your head around the various options.
Importantly, Ulster Bank will be obliged to give you significant advance notice when you have to act to move the account.
If you have a loan with Ulster – for your home, an investment property, a car or whatever – that will be sold on to another group and you will have no choice over that. However, any new owner of the loan is obliged to abide by the loan contracts , so your terms and conditions won’t change.
So you have nothing to worry about just yet. We should all know more in the coming days and weeks.
Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No personal correspondence will be entered into