When Brexit deprives British expatriates of bank accounts

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Like Roger Morton and his Scottish wife in the Dordogne, many British expatriates in the EU have been shocked to find out that their UK bank accounts will be closed. In question, the harassments of Brexit for banks soon deprived of access to the European market.

The wife of the 78-year-old retired New Zealand photographer was unpleasantly surprised to receive a letter from Barclaycard, a bank card subsidiary of Barclays, informing her that her account had been closed.

“It’s a drastic decision. It’s more stress at an already stressful time with Brexit and the epidemic, ”Roger Morton told AFP. Their account with Barclays, their bank for nearly 40 years, is not affected.

A limited number of Britons are concerned, perhaps a few tens of thousands in several European countries, but this is one of the first direct consequences of Brexit, whose impact on daily life is still not very concrete. two sides of the Channel.

From the 1er January, once the transition period has elapsed, banks established in the United Kingdom will be deprived of their European “passport”, a provision of the single market which allows them to offer their services on the continent.

In order to continue to practice, they will have no other choice but to apply for a banking license in an EU country and have a legal entity there.

Administrative complications in perspective which several large banks prefer to avoid, even if it means depriving themselves of customers who do not have an address in the United Kingdom.

“This will obviously generate additional costs, so the banks will have to decide which are the profitable markets,” Sarah Hall, professor at the University of Nottingham and member of the UK in a Changing Europe research center, told AFP.

For Lloyds Bank, one of the largest for individuals in the UK, the choice is made. It will close 13,000 customer accounts in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.

Alternative solutions?

“Due to the UK’s exit from the EU, we regretfully will no longer be able to provide some banking services from the UK,” said a spokesperson.

Affected customers should take precautions and ensure that regular deposits or payments made on the account are transferred to another bank.

Same thing at Barclays therefore, where the closure depends on the services offered, and which ensures that this only concerns a small number of customers.

Similarly, the very chic Coutts, bank of Queen Elisabeth II and subsidiary of Natwest, warned its customers in July and set up a dedicated team to support them in their procedures.

The subject does not fail to mobilize newspapers intended for Britons living in France, such as The Connexion, which relays the concerns of readers who, for example, receive their pensions on their account in the United Kingdom.

Not all banks have taken this radical decision, like HSBC and Santander. The latter, however, says it is attentive to the development of the situation.

In the case of HSBC, the bank “has a legal entity in France and plans to use it for British expatriates in France,” recalls Mr.me Lobby.

And also to warn that the question of the future of the financial passport is not on the menu of the ongoing discussions on the post-Brexit relationship. It is therefore lost no matter what happens to banks in the UK.

“It is still possible to have a minimum trade agreement but it should not go far concerning services in general,” she said.

The financial situation of the British in the EU worries even the powerful Treasury Committee of the British Parliament which has just written to the financial regulator to ask for clarification.

“Many British expatriates in the EU are informed of the closure of their UK bank accounts at the end of the year. It is crucial that they are warned in advance to find alternative solutions, ”warns Mel Stride, Conservative MP and chairman of the committee.

The regulator, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), cannot, however, prevent banks from reversing their decision but simply from providing the best support to aggrieved customers.

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