British banks dump longterm expat customers and close offshore branches

Published:  3 Sep at 6 PM
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Expats with funds in British banks or their offshore arms are facing a double whammy as banks dump non-profitable customers and close down overseas branches.

In a disturbing development, thousands of longstanding, loyal customers of British banks, many of whom are now pensioners living overseas, are being dumped without explanation. At the same time, the same banks are busily closing down their offshore branches, leaving many expats with nowhere to turn.

Every year, several thousand long-term customers of UK banks receive letters informing them their accounts will be closed. A period of 60 days is given to allow the customer to transfer his savings and rearrange standing orders and direct debits, but no reason is ever given for the closure.

The policy is believed to be linked to the fact that older people living overseas and those who manage their money correctly have no need for costly overdrafts, bank loans, insurance products or mortgages. Many who have been severely affected say that they are being dumped because they are no longer cash cows for greedy banks.

Meanwhile, offshore banks in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are closing their doors at a never-before-seen rate. In August, the Bank of Ireland’s Isle of Man operation ceased and, just two weeks later, the Cooperative Bank’s Guernsey branch followed suit.

Being unable to access banking facilities in the UK and offshore is bad news for expats whose occupational pensions come from different employers, especially if they originate overseas. Another problem is that expats with comfortable incomes but less in savings may be unable to obtain a debit card from banks in their country of residence.

Combined with the all but useless interest rates offered to offshore savers, the news couldn’t be worse. At present, NatWest is one of the worst offenders, but other high street names are certain to follow suit.
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