Santander Fined for Poor Bereavement Processes

Customers of Santander were failed for more than three years in regards to the probate services provided by the financial juggernaut.

The FCA have consequently fined Santander £32.8 million for the way it dealt with the bereavement process of over 40,000 customers between the years of 2013 and 2016.

According to the FCA, beneficiaries were massively inconvenienced when over £183 million of funds were not transferred when they should have been.

The FCA found that probate and bereavement processes would face significant delays or remain incomplete. In turn this led to funds being delayed.

Additionally, funds belonging to the deceased’s estate were not immediately given to Personal Representatives (PR) leading to a lot of lost funds.

A notice from the watchdog states: “A bank is required to have an effective process for dealing with a deceased customer’s accounts and investments from notification of death to the transfer of funds to those who are entitled to receive them.

“The flaws in the process existed before this time and affected Santander’s ability to close accounts of deceased customers, including legacy accounts from Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley, with recorded dates of death as early as 1980.”

FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “These failings took too long to be identified and then far too long to be fixed. To the firm’s credit, once these problems were notified to the board and senior management, they were fixed properly and promptly.

“But recognition of the problem took too long. Firms must be able to identify and respond to problems more quickly especially when they are causing harm to customers.

“Santander held on to the funds in some cases for many years without beneficiaries being aware of their existence, let alone enjoying their benefit.”

Santander UK chief executive Nathan Bostock says: “Santander is very sorry for the impact these failings have had on the families and beneficiaries affected. We accept the FCA’s findings and have fully cooperated with their investigation.

“We have now transferred the majority of customer funds and made significant improvements to our whole probate and bereavement process.”

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