IFA National Farm Business Chair Rose Mary McDonagh said the exit of Ulster Bank from the banking market is creating huge uncertainty and added stress for many farmers, who are already worried about escalating input costs and falling farm incomes.
IFA representatives are to meet with Ulster Bank this afternoon to discuss the phased exit of the bank from the Irish market.
“Anecdotally, we’ve heard of cases where existing Ulster Bank customers are waiting literally months for an initial meeting with a new financial provider to set up a current account facility with them. Others are encountering obstacles in opening business accounts and overdrafts, even though personal accounts are held with the new bank provider,” she said.
“All the push is towards online account opening. However, this doesn’t work for all customers, particularly our most vulnerable. We have heard of internal policies within the Pillar Banks restricting daily manual account opening. It’s not feasible or fair on our customers. We will be engaging with the Central Bank to ensure this issue is closely monitored. We cannot have a situation where farmers have no functional business current account/overdraft to maintain on-farm operations,” she said.
Rose Mary McDonagh said farmers will need to take steps to move to a new finance provider, but they need clear direction and support to make the transition/switching process as seamless as possible.
She said remaining financial providers also need to put in more resources and supports into eliminating the massive waiting times to open current accounts as well as ensuring the smooth transition of its customers and any associated banking facilities/services.