British banks poised to ditch expat customers after Barclays brought in £40 fee

Britons living abroad are urged to “seek alternatives” when managing their finances as UK high street banks could shut down their current or savings accounts.

Millions of British expat customers are warned their banking situation may get worse as high street banks increasingly struggle with the expensive and onerous compliance measures they need to take with customers abroad.

The news follows the Barclays announcement on Friday stating that British people living overseas will no longer be able to hold a UK current or savings account with them.

Nigel Green, CEO and founder of deVere Group explained they have been warning expats since November 2020 that many Britons who live overseas face being stripped of their UK bank accounts and credit cards because of the increasing required compliance measures they need to take.

Many high street banks want to take the time to focus on “home markets” instead.

Mr Green said: “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.

“They’re also considering offering 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.”

The Barclays announcement could mean those affected will no longer be able to access their savings or pension unless they move their money.

Barclays has been writing to customers, giving them six months’ notice.

Expats can still open a global account with the bank, but they will need to have a balance of £100,000 to avoid paying a monthly charge of £40.

Customers living abroad with a loan or mortgage with Barclays will not have their product closed down, but they won’t be able to apply for an additional loan or remortgage if they are registered outside the UK.

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Mr Green continued: “This will all 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.

“I would urge those who are, or could be, affected by high street banks abandoning them to urgently seek alternatives with providers that already operate under multijurisdictional rules to sidestep avoidable issues now and in the future. 

“Compliance costs facing traditional banks are going up and up and they, it appears, are simply unwilling and unable to use their increasingly limited resources on UK expats.”

Mr Green concluded: “There’s a growing need for clients to have borderless access to, and management and use of their money.

“There are other expat-designed banking alternatives, so they don’t have to put up with this outrageous, and increasingly routine, de-banking from UK high street banks.”

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