A LEADING financial expert has visited Ceredigion to see first-hand the impact of bank closures on rural communities.

The chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Payment Systems Regulator, Charles Randell, recently met with members of the community and key organisations to discuss access to cash, bank branch closures and the impacts on people’s ability to save and access credit.

He met with members of the farming community including the NFU Cymru, along with representatives of vulnerable members of the community including carers, people who have learning disabilities and people who are disabled.

He ended his day with a roundtable discussion, chaired by Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, meeting small and medium-sized businesses, including local retailers, and representatives from the Post Office and National Federation of Sub Postmasters.

Mr Randell said, “Visiting Ceredigion was eye-opening. It was good to speak with members of the National Farmers’ Union regarding their experiences on accessing and depositing cash, while the consumer roundtable brought home the impact of bank branch closures on vulnerable consumers.

“It is an important topic for us and is why we are keen to continue meeting people around the country to hear their experiences first-hand.

“Since we met, I’m pleased that UK Finance and LINK have announced further measures to help communities keep or restore access to cash.”

Mr Randell was visiting Wales as part of the FCA’s national and regional engagement programme for its chairman and executive team. These visits support the FCA’s wider engagement with key organisations at a regional level, to better understand local issues for consumers and firms.

Cllr Catrin Miles is Ceredigion County Council’s Combating Poverty Champion. She said: “I’m delighted that Mr Randell visited Ceredigion. It was vitally important that he learned first-hand about the challenges many residents face when trying to access cash and trying to use banks when they are closing across the county.”