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David Vascott

News, Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

FCA requests data from banks on account closures

FCA requests data from banks on account closures


The UK's Financial Conduct Authority has sent an information request to the largest banks and building societies, a week after announcing an investigation into 'freedom of expression and the provision of banking services'.

The FCA says that as part of its data requests, it will ask banks whether accounts have been closed because of expressions of political or other opinions.

"We’re asking about both personal and business customers, including pawn brokers, charities and political parties. We will analyse the results and provide an initial assessment by mid-September," the FCA said in a press release. "We’re undertaking this work to better understand the scale of account closures and the reasons behind them. We will share our analysis with the Chancellor. We are also actively engaging the largest payments firms on this topic."

Banks and building societies will have until 25 August 2023 to provide information on:

  • the number of customers that have been terminated
  • the number of customers suspended
  • the number of customers denied services
  • the reasons for all of the above 
  • the number of complaints banks have received on this issue

On 3 August, the FCA wrote to the chancellor of the exchequer outlining its plans to investigate the issue, as part of a wider examination of the provision of banking services. The letter said:

“We recognise the increased public concern about payment accounts being closed without fair justification. As you set out, banks are subject to the Payment Accounts Regulations which require that a consumer’s access to a payment account is not denied on the basis of a range of characteristics, including legally-held political views.”

The FCA said some account closures may be connected to banks’ legal obligations to comply with financial crime regulations. However it is “less clear the extent to which banks may be terminating accounts for other reasons, which may be unjustified and which, in some instances, may contravene the law. As the regulator, it is important that we understand the scale of the issue and the drivers behind a reported increase in account terminations.

“We had therefore been preparing a data exercise to focus on banks and building societies providing payment accounts to consumers and accounts to businesses. In the coming month, we will ask the largest banks and building societies to provide us with the number of account terminations and the reasons for these; number of complaints about terminations, and their outcomes. We will also request data on the number of accounts opened; the volume of new applications refused and any relevant complaints data and information about policies and procedures.”

The FCA aims to complete its initial assessment by mid-September.