Monday 18 December 2017

Banks 'must help' ailing customers on debt -- IBF

Brendan Keenan

Brendan Keenan

BANKS have an obligation to assist struggling customers in managing their debts, the chief executive of the Irish Banking Federation told delegates.

Pat Farrell said the banks would also have to be more open and transparent in doing business -- an area where they had not been "trendsetters" in the past.

"In the case of mortgage debt, we have to bring the same level of creativity and ingenuity to bear on finding solutions which keep people in their homes, as we have in the past brought to bear on product development and innovation," he said.

"To date, some 70,000 mortgages have been restructured and the level of house repossession remains low by any standard. Taken together, these initiatives continue to provide critical support for many borrowers. However, further measures will be necessary for borrowers whose situation has become unsustainable."

The banks would have to respond constructively to the Keane report on mortgages and work with the relevant authorities to help deliver on its central objectives.

The IBF supported the call from the Ombudsman for Credit Institutions to be allowed publish the complaints records of individual financial services providers.

Mr Farrell said banks were providing financial and other support to viable small and medium-sized businesses and seeking to assist those clients for whom viability may have become a challenge.

"Our sector is working with Enterprise Ireland to re-focus lending skills from the property-based lending of the past to the business proposition lending increasingly required today.

"Make no mistake, we will accept the results of any independent, objective survey of credit demand; and should it emerge that there is unmet need for credit from viable sustainable businesses, we as a sector must be willing to step up to the plate. No ifs, buts, or maybes."

Irish Independent

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