The main retail banks here need to do more work in a number of areas, including planning and communication, in order to ensure the exits of Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland are smooth, the Central Bank has said.

It follows a meeting between the regulator and the CEOs of the five main banks and the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) this morning.

The Central Bank's Director General of Financial Conduct said the meeting had been arranged with a view to finding a practical way forward that sees the account migration exercise completed in a time bound fashion, that provides a good customer experience and continuity in banking services.

"We acknowledge the work undertaken to date by the banks and the continued efforts of staff to support customers in challenging circumstances," , Derville Rowland said in a statement after the meeting.

"But we must also accept that the customers affected by these issues did not ask to be in this situation," she said.

"They have rights which must be protected and expectations built up through their relationships and interactions with the banking system that must continue to be met as this exercise proceeds," she added.

The regulator said those attending had agreed a strong customer focused approach is required, with additional work needed in certain areas.

These include improving planning, with collaboration across the sector on a collective approach, as well as making arrangements more customer focused, taking their specific circumstances into account.

The Central Bank also said there needs to be more proactive communication so customers understand what is happening.

Further engagement by the banks with other stakeholders across the financial system to anticipate and solve problems is also needed, it added.

Speaking on his way out of the meeting, Brian Hayes, chief executive of the BPFI, described the engagement as useful.

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He said there had been a positive discussion about the work that lies ahead and the work that is happening at the moment.

"The overriding impression is one of the industry being totally aligned with the regulatory expectations we face in the course of the next year or so in dealing with the migration of so many personal and SME accounts across the system," he said.

He claimed the regulator had also recognised that there are issues for the industry in dealing with other direct debit originators or other stakeholders across the system.

Mr Hayes said he did not accept the sector had been slow in preparing for what lies ahead.

"There will be issues that will emerge that we will need help and support from our regulator and other regulators on," he said.

"We will learn as we go," he added.

Eamonn Crowley, Permanent TSB chief executive, said the bank is on course in its opening of new accounts for customers and it is increasing resources in preparation of what lies ahead.

"We are probably about half way there at this moment, but naturally the larger number of customers closing their account we believe won't happen until later in the year, or possibly into next year," he added.

"And we are resourcing up to be prepared for that," he added.

He said additional measures are already in place to help vulnerable customers, and this is something that is a key area of focus for all banks.

With the departure of Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland, up to a million accounts will either have to be closed or moved to a new financial institution.

Concern has been growing in recent weeks that the banks may not have been fully prepared for the big switch, amid complaints from the public of difficulties in getting appointments and long delays on customer service lines.