As part of our work on bereavement supports from banks, the IBCB has become aware of a wider societal issue regarding low levels of proactive planning to ensuring financial affairs are in order. If adequate financial planning measures are not in place, it can lead to additional difficulties and stress for bereaved families or those who experience sudden life-changing injuries.
The key financial steps to put in place include making a will and putting in place arrangements to give next-of-kin the ability to manage financial affairs in the event of diminished capacity or serious illness. This can include measures such as setting up a joint bank account, appointing a third-party adviser, or appointing an enduring power of attorney.
The IBCB is continuing to focus on the role banks can play in supporting customers with planning their financial affairs. In addition to dedicated bereavement supports, all IBCB member banks have specific supports available for customers in a vulnerable position, which includes those who are financially vulnerable as a result of a life-changing event such as a bereavement or injury. Each situation is unique, it may be temporary or ongoing and your bank will advise what supports are available to you. This is particularly important during the current COVID-19 crisis, where some who were vulnerable prior to COVID-19 may well now face an exacerbation of their circumstances, while a whole raft of others are now vulnerable solely because of the impact of the virus on their health and/or financial circumstances. If applicable, we recommend that you contact your bank either in branch, via their website or through their phone service and explain your situation as soon as possible.
In addition to the importance of getting financial affairs in order, IBCB research with the farming and SME communities has identified a need for more specific banking supports for these sectors, and a particular need for banks to look at their approach to relationship building and communications.
Previously, farmers and SMEs heavily relied upon their relationship with their local bank manager to facilitate their banking needs. With reduced branch networks and increasing use of online services, these relationships have changed significantly.
Feedback was received from farmers that when they try to access loans or financial advice, it can be difficult to speak to a staff member with experience in farm lending. In conjunction with our board members representing the farming and SME sectors, the IBCB is focusing on developing actions with our member banks which will assist with these difficulties. A key requirement is ensuring that farmers and SMEs are aware of the range of financing supports in place for them and how best to access these through, for example, the preparation of business plans. These supports will be particularly important given the economic and financial fallout from the COVID-19 crisis. Each of the IBCB member banks have SME financing expertise in place, and in some cases, dedicated agri teams, to provide specialist support.
Bank of Ireland Agricultural Business
KBC Bank Ireland Business Banking
Permanent TSB Business Banking
Ulster Bank Agricultural Business
The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) also provides information to assist businesses with financial planning and includes specific information for farm businesses in relation to finance applications (www.bpfi.ie). Additional information sources can be accessed through Micro Finance Ireland and Credit Review (https://www.microfinanceireland.ie and https://www.creditreview.ie)