Expat Brits warned their UK banking services could be withdrawn
Britons with UK current and savings accounts who live overseas are being warned that other high street banks may follow Barclays’ lead by withdrawing the facilities for expats.
Chief executive and founder of financial advice firm deVere Group Nigel Green, who sounded the alarm, is urging British account holders who live abroad to seek alternative services from banking providers who already operate under cross-border regulations.
Barclays announced it was giving expats six months’ notice before terminating their UK current and savings accounts. Account holders can open a Barclays global account instead but this must have a minimum balance of £100,000 at all times or the customer must pay a £40 a month fee.
Green says banks are pulling away from offering international services because of increased compliance requirements which are also “expensive and onerous”.
He added: “We have been warning expats since November 2020 that many Britons who live overseas face being stripped of their UK bank accounts and credit cards.
“While some banks have been offering some international services, it appears that some UK banks are now pushing to remove even these and focus exclusively on home markets instead, or offer alternatives such as holding extremely large deposits with them in order to maintain basic services.
“We expect that other British high street banks will follow in Barclays’ footsteps and further modify expat banking services. We would be surprised if many more people were not affected.”
He said such closures will cause considerable disruption for many individuals, families, businesses and other organisations especially where there are deposits, standing orders, regular payments and credit facilities to another bank.”
Expat designed banking alternatives are available, he added, for customers who have be de-banked.
Expat rules tightening
Brokers say they haven’t seen any similar changes in the expat mortgage market in recent months, but there has a general tightening on expat lending rules over the last few years.
Richard Campo, founder of Rose Capital Partners, said: “I can’t think of any of the big six lenders that have a workable policy at the moment. We tend to use the smaller building societies for expat cases. Where they can’t compete on price with the big lenders, they can on policy as it is a very manual underwriting approach. Hence why the big lenders shy away from it.”
Barclays says it has been closing expat accounts for a number of years.
A spokesperson said: “Our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK. We will no longer be offering personal current or savings accounts to retail customers with addresses registered with us outside of the United Kingdom, subject to limited exceptions. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and explain the next steps they need to take.”