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Phoenix Group warns expat EEA customers over UK bank account closures

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Phoenix Group, a UK long-term savings and retirement business, is urging all customers based in the European Economic Area (EEA) to check their banking arrangements to ensure they can continue to send or receive payments.

Phoenix Group, a UK long-term savings and retirement business, is urging all customers based in the European Economic Area (EEA) to check their banking arrangements to ensure they can continue to send or receive payments.

Many banks and building societies in the UK closed their accounts to customers resident in the EEA at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 when existing “passporting” arrangements came to an end.

Phoenix wrote to its EEA customers warning them of the issue but had limited response. The company then started an advertising campaign across European titles to flag the issue. The letters and adverts encouraged customers to be aware if their UK account was closing and to make alternative banking arrangements. 
 
Whilst the adverts and letters saw some customers take action, there are still a number of customers who have not yet set up new banking arrangements and are now at risk of being unable to receive any payments into their account from pension providers like Phoenix. In particular, those receiving regular annuity payments are advised to take prompt action to make sure the income they may be relying on is able to reach them easily.
 
Andy Moss, Phoenix Life CEO and Group Director, Heritage Business, says: “Many people are reliant on their private pension income and we want to help them ensure they continue to receive this with no interruption. We believe that thousands of our customers could be at risk of their income being interrupted due to these changes and we are urging them to make new banking arrangements immediately.”
 
UK expats who are resident in the EEA may have chosen to have a UK account to receive a pension, salary or other income payments in sterling, as it can be convenient for trips home, or to help avoid poor exchange rates for converting pounds into local currency.
 
Phoenix has written letters to all those it believes could be affected to explain how this could impact them and what they need to do. If their bank has informed them they are closing their UK accounts they should urgently review the banking arrangements so that there is no disruption to the payment services it provides. In addition, the company has provided information on its websites and run an advertising campaign to highlight this industry-wide issue to consumers in Europe.
 
Phoenix is also reminding its customers that moving from a UK bank account to an international account could change their tax status in the country they are a resident and recommends seeking the appropriate guidance and advice before doing so.
 
Phoenix will issue a cheque payment to customers rather than make a payment electronically if revised details are not provided in these circumstances.  The payments will not be lost but may be more difficult to process overseas.  If a customer’s UK bank account will continue to accept payments from the EEA, they do not need to take any further action. 
 

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