Work Programme Menu:

Work Programme Menu

Work Programme Menu:

Customer /

Financial Inclusion

Background and Context

What we heard

Financial Inclusion and financial awareness for customers who need enhanced support is an area of focus for the IBCB. Financial vulnerability can occur at any time, it can be transient or permanent and many bank customers can find themselves in a vulnerable position for a range of reasons:

  • A change in personal circumstances; bereavement, divorce or separation, the breakdown of family relationships or supports
  • Issues with physical and mental health and wellbeing, including cognitive impairments, the diagnosis or onset of a serious or life-altering illness
  • A disability, which requires additional or alternative supports
  • Personal financial difficulties, including arrears and mounting debt
  • Marginalised groups, who may find it difficult to access financial services.

In our external engagement, and through our research, we have heard from customers, stakeholders, and members of the public that banks should demonstrate more support for customers in need to enhanced supports. Our priorities have been focussed on initiatives aimed at raising financial awareness and financial inclusion for such customers and undertaking more detailed research projects.

We continue to liaise closely with Safeguarding Ireland, through our role on the National Safeguarding Advisory Committee and State Payments Group. We have also engaged with MABS, the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, the Open Doors Initiative, and the European Consumer Debt Network.

IBCB Financial Inclusion event with people with intellectual disabilities (ID) – summary

In March 2024 the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) hosted a Financial Inclusion event attended by its member banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB), Inclusion Ireland, people from across Ireland with intellectual disabilities (ID) and other key stakeholders. The event is part of an IBCB initiative to support people with intellectual disabilities towards financial independence.

In 2023, the IBCB, in collaboration with Inclusion Ireland held customer listening sessions across Ireland to meet people with intellectual disabilities and to learn from their interactions with the IBCB’s member banks. The insights gained provided valuable, firsthand information on how their banking needs could be met and what actions the banks could take to better support financial inclusion.

Financial Inclusion is a cornerstone of the work programme of the IBCB and through our éist surveys, and the customer listening sessions, we are working to highlight its importance for people with intellectual disabilities and people who need additional support with their banking. Our member banks have a range of supports available for customers who require enhanced assistance in their banking lives.

The event also launched the IBCB ‘Banking How To’ guides, which were developed based on feedback from the customer listening sessions. The guides are in an easy-to-read format to help people with some common banking transactions. The IBCB, along with our member banks created four guides for lodging funds into a bank account, making a bank transfer, paying a bill, or rent, and setting up a standing order. The guides are designed to support and empower people with financial independence and to facilitate positive engagement with banking services. The guides can be found on our website here.

The Press release for the event can be found here.

The purpose of the event was to:

  • Follow up with the individuals who participated in the original Customer Listening sessions with Inclusion Ireland.
  • Highlight what supports our member banks have for customers who may need additional support with their banking.
  • Enable individuals, stakeholders and stakeholder organisations to pose questions to our member banks.
  • Facilitate a Round Table discussions to hear directly from people with ID and stakeholder organisations what else the IBCB and our member banks can do to support this cohort with their banking needs to better support financial inclusion.

 

The event was attended by a number of stakeholder organisations:

  • IBCB and our Member Banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB)
  • Inclusion Ireland
  • Self-Advocates (10)
  • Safeguarding Ireland
  • Sage Advocacy
  • Decision Support Service
  • HSE National Office for Human Rights and Equality Policy
  • An Post
  • Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) 

 

There are also a number of stakeholder organisations who we engaged with prior to the event: 

  • Dept of Finance – National Financial Literacy Strategy
  • Central Bank of Ireland
  • Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with special responsibility for Disability
  • John McGuinness’s office 

What we heard at the event

  • Bank’s need to understand their customers’ needs – as individuals, everyone is different. Listening to feedback across a multitude of channels is important. Bank staff to ask questions using inclusive language – being clear, concise and using plain English (account opening etc), to help support the person to understanding the question.
  • Financial Awareness – Banks need to make customers aware of the services available – it is difficult to get some messages out and so the role of advocacy groups in bringing the supports available to customers is an important channel. Many are unaware of what supports member banks already have. Forms should be in easy-to-read (etr).
  • Engagement and feedback with this cohort – ideally in person, through community groups/advocacy groups. Surveys in paper, in person or maybe via phone.
  • Branches could use colour coded signage or icons to support people knowing where to go for various services. It is important to have a trust friendly face available to support, but not to be dependent on the one person. Champions for people who require additional support with their banking in branches or clusters of branches.
  • Fraud / scams – A campaign to highlight awareness of what supports banks have including the dedicated fraud phone lines for customers to call if they are concerned about frauds/scams. ‘Acquiescence’ – some people with ID have been socialised to automatically agree or go along with what someone is telling them, this behaviour needs to be ‘unlearned’. The emphasis on ‘fraud /scams’ should also focus on ‘financial abuse’. It is not just the ‘online stranger’ who can take your money or assets.
  • Digital Banking – simplify the screens, they can be too busy. Provide a simple digital interface for those with disabilities.
  • Internal Training of bank staff is important on how to support people. Continual learning and case studies could be used and shared internally. Training should be monitored and measured to ensure success

What we will do

The insights provided at this event are valuable insights for the IBCB and our member banks. We will share these insights with the IBCB Board, our member banks will share them internally, and we will consider what we can learn from them and what actions we can take to support better financial inclusion.

One of the suggestions we heard at the sessions was to have some Banking How To guides in easy to ready (etr) format for some common banking transactions. The IBCB, along with our member banks worked with ACE Communication to create these 4 guides. The 4 guides are for making a lodgement (putting money into my account), a bank transfer (sending money from one account to another), paying a bill or rent and setting up a standing order.
Our member banks have supports available, for anyone who needs assistance with their banking.
We also heard that branches are a vitally important resource. And the importance of a trusted friendly face is important to help and provide support. Each of our member banks recognise the JAM card, and are committed to ensuring this is evident within their branches.
IBCB Customer Listening with Inclusion Ireland 2023 – summary

Our member banks have supports available, see below.

The IBCB conducts customer listening sessions with the purpose of hearing directly from bank customers whose voices are not always heard in research or focus groups. In 2023 the IBCB held customer listening sessions with people with Intellectual Disabilities (ID). In collaboration with Inclusion Ireland, who advocate for people with ID, we held 4 listening sessions in Tullamore, Dublin, Cork, and Sligo to ensure a regional representation. The sessions were facilitated by Inclusion Ireland staff, with the IBCB in attendance and we heard from 45 people with ID about their experiences with their bank and their banking needs. The insights gained provided valuable, firsthand information on how their banking needs could be met and what actions the banks could take to better support financial inclusion. We created a word cloud of some of the key words we heard across the sessions.
What we heard
  • Having a bank account is key for independence for customers with intellectual disabilities.
  • Branches are a vitally important resource. Within the branch:
    • A trusted friendly face is important to help and provide support.
    • We need to allow time for individuals. Some people told us that they weren’t sure if JAM cards are recognised in the branches.
    • People said they didn’t feel the level of training and experience within branch staff (to support someone with ID) was consistent.
    • Long queues can be very challenging.
    • There are accessibility issues in some branches.
  • We heard that it is important for information to be Easy to Read (etr), in Plain English and about the importance of Audio.
  • Having a bank card for cash withdrawals and tapping is important. We also heard that people felt that ATMs / machines were often challenging to use without support and individuals often preferred using an ATM inside as it felt safer.
  • Many of the participants did not feel confident with digital banking, although a small number used online banking or an app. Concerns included remembering passwords, changing technology and technology not enabling for those who are visually impaired.
  • There was a fear about transferring money from one account to another. Training could be provided to support this; however, it would need to go at a suitable pace for each person.
  • Paper statements were preferred by most to manage finances.
  • Most of the participants were very familiar with the word ‘scam’ but less familiar with the word ‘fraud’. However, messages about scams and fraud are normally sent via online channels which are not received by those who are not digitally enabled.
  • Very few of the people we spoke to had borrowed money, one had a mortgage and ca. 2 had borrowed from a Credit Union. Many were not aware that banks did loans.
What we did

The findings of these customer listening sessions were highlighted and discussed with the IBCB board and our member banks. At these sessions we discussed what we heard from the people we met, and how we could best support their banking needs. In some cases, our member banks already had supports in place, and we needed to raise awareness of them. 

Our member banks have a range of supports available for people who need additional assistance with their banking. We have highlighted these on our website with links to further information for each of them. 

AIB
Need Extra Help
Additional Support helpline on 0818 227 056. Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. 

Bank of Ireland
Extra Help for Customers, Families and Carers
Customers can text EXTRAHELP to 50365 to get a link to the site. 

PTSB
Enhanced Customer Support
Phone number: 0818 818 721 or +353 1 655 0581 

 

We heard how important having a bank account is key for independence for customers with intellectual disabilities. Each of our member banks, among other products, offers a Basic Bank Account. A ‘basic bank account’ is a current account that allows you to have access to essential daily banking services if you do not currently have a bank account in Ireland. The IBCB has a Guide to the Basic Bank Account. This guide is for people who may need or want a basic bank account. It explains how to contact a bank, what to expect and what you must do. The IBCB and our member banks want to promote access to banking so that everyone can access financial services. The guide is written in plain English and is available in 10 languages. 

Each of our member banks do recognise the JAM card, however not everyone was aware of that. All of our member banks have committed to ensuring this is evident within their branches. 

One of the suggestions we heard at the sessions was to have some Banking How To guides in easy to ready (etr) format for some common banking transactions. The IBCB, along with our member banks worked with ACE Communication to create these guides. The 4 guides are for making a lodgement (putting money into my account), a bank transfer (sending money from one account to another), paying a bill or rent and setting up a standing order. They can be found on our website. 

Irish Prison Service

The IBCB and member banks has worked with the Irish Prison Service throughout 2022 and 2023 to support financial inclusion for persons in custody.

Basic Bank Account Guide

In 2022 the IBCB launched a Guide to the Basic Bank Account providing essential guidance for customers, and particularly customers in a vulnerable position, to apply for a bank account to support inclusion and accessibility to banking in Ireland. The guide was developed and launched with our member banks.

The IBCB undertook qualitative research in 2020 to better understand the needs and wants of people in accessing and utilising banking services. In doing so, it sought the views of organisations that support marginalised and vulnerable groups who experience difficulties accessing banking products. The research identified a clear need to raise awareness of the basic bank account as a first step towards financial inclusion across society.

A basic bank account is a current account that provides essential daily banking services, which all residents of the EU have the right to, no matter what their financial situation. The basic bank account financially empowers customers in a vulnerable position, supporting peoples’ financial freedom and providing dignity and access to a better life for many.

Our research also indicated that language barriers create further challenges for customers to access financial services. As a result, we translated the guide into Arabic, French, Lithuanian, Polish, Pashto, Urdu, Portuguese, and Mandarin. We selected these languages on the basis of an identified need to help access financial products and services. We subsequently translated the guide into Ukrainian, following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine and have provided copies of the guide to organisations supporting customers, including MABS, National Advocacy Service, Safe Ireland and the Department of Justice.

Click Here for more information. The guides can be found here.

In September 2021, the IBCB facilitated a roundtable discussion between the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) and member banks, to provide an informal opportunity to discuss areas for improvement and interaction between banks and the ISI, in support of customers in financial difficulty. The outcome of this discussion was agreement between participants in member banks and the ISI that member banks and the ISI would engage directly with each other with any feedback, in particular on the processes with Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIPs), with a focus on improving process, communication and applying learnings to help customers who are in long-term arrears.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the IBCB highlighted the needs of vulnerable customers. Some, who experienced vulnerability prior to the pandemic faced an exacerbation of their circumstances and a significant number of bank customers have experienced vulnerability because of the impact of the virus on their health or financial circumstances. The IBCB highlighted steps taken by member banks and the banking industry to provide systemic payment breaks, followed by a range of solutions to customers experiencing difficulty in making loan repayments. We also highlighted positive steps taken by member banks to provide additional supports for customers in a vulnerable position, with specific times available for branch banking, dedicated phone lines, companion cards and other supports. In addition, we have promoted campaigns aimed at reducing financial abuse and fraud.

During 2020, we contributed to consultations related to aspects of supports for customers in a vulnerable position. In May 2020, we responded to the Law Reform Commission’s Issues Paper on ‘A Regulatory Framework for Adult Safeguarding’. The IBCB response focused on financial abuse which impacts on bank customers, bank staff, and institutions. The categories of financial abuse raised in the issues paper include thefts and scams, financial victimisation, coercion, signs of possible financial exploitation, and money management difficulties. These are issues which are also of concern to the banking industry, and all IBCB member banks have existing services in place to protect and support customers who may experience financial abuse.

Photos

Basic Bank Account Guide

customer listening sessions with people with Intellectual Disabilities

Video Content
Play Video