Banking associations' commitment to customer services for the elderly is strengthened


Following the signing of the Strategic Protocol to Strengthen the Banking Sector’s Social and Sustainable Commitment in July 2021 (the "Protocol"), in recent months the Spanish government and the sector have intensified their actions to seek to guarantee the financial inclusion of society as a whole and, in particular, of the elderly, as they encounter greatest difficulties in their dealings with financial institutions. In fact, in recent weeks, the media have broadcast several news items on various platforms and initiatives to improve customer services in bank branches in order to facilitate access to financial services for the elderly.

As a result of these news items, various meetings were held between banking associations and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, in which the Banco de España also participated, to jointly address the urgency and importance of ensuring financial inclusion for all citizens, especially the elderly. These meetings conveyed to the sector the government's concern on this issue and emphasised the need for the industry to adopt specific measures within the framework of the Protocol, which can be easily disseminated and are measurable, to ensure access to financial services for all citizens and, in particular, to improve customer services for the elderly.

On 21 February 2022, the banking associations, in the presence of the First Vice-President and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation and the Governor of the Banco de España, signed an update of the Protocol[1], to include new measures to ensure personalised customer services to citizens, especially the elderly, so that they have access to banking services adapted to their needs. Specifically, the fifth action principle of the Protocol relating to "measures promoting financial inclusion" is updated, including specific actions aimed at "improving personalised customer services for the elderly" and focussing mainly on the following axes:

  • (i) personalised customer services in branches (including, inter alia, the extension of bank branch opening hours and specific staff training);
  • (ii) fast telephone customer service, which is free of charge and with a personal advisor;
  • (iii) more accessible and simple ATMs, apps and websites; and
  • (iv) specific training for this group to reinforce financial and digital education, through workshops or seminars, that facilitate the accessibility of channels for the elderly.

It was also agreed that the Observatory for Financial Inclusion, created by the banking associations in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol, would be responsible for monitoring compliance with the measures set out in the Protocol every six months.

[1] In addition to the Spanish Banking Association and the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks (CECA), which initially signed up to the Protocol, the National Union of Credit Cooperatives (UNACC) has now also joined, signing up to the Protocol when it was updated.

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