Halifax (United Kingdom bank)
|Industry||Finance and insurance|
|Key people||David Nicholson
|Parent||Lloyds Banking Group|
Halifax (previously known as Halifax Building Society) is a banking chain in the United Kingdom and a division of Bank of Scotland, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group. It is the UK's largest provider of residential mortgages and savings accounts.
It is named after the town of Halifax, West Yorkshire where it was founded as a building society in 1853. By 1913 It had developed into the UK's largest building society and continued to grow and prosper and maintained this position within the UK until 1997 when it de-mutualised.
In 1997 it became Halifax plc, a public limited company which was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. In 2001 Halifax plc merged with The Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland, forming HBOS. In 2006, the HBOS Group Reorganisation Act 2006 legally transferred the assets and liabilities of the Halifax chain to Bank of Scotland which became a standard plc, with Halifax becoming a division of Bank of Scotland. A takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB was approved by the Court of Session on 12 January 2009, and on 19 January 2009 Bank of Scotland, including Halifax, formally became part of Lloyds Banking Group.
The Halifax was formed in 1853 as The Halifax Permanent Benefit Building and Investment Society. The idea was thought up in a meeting room situated above The Old Cock Inn close to the original Building Society building. Like all early building societies, the purpose of the society was for the mutual benefit of local working people. Investors with surplus cash would invest in the society to receive interest, and borrowers could access loans to fund the purchase of a house.
Unlike many British building societies which grew large by acquisitions and mergers, the Society chose an organic form of growth, and proceeded to open branches throughout the UK. By 1913, it was the largest building society in the UK. The first office in London opened in 1924; and the first offices in Scotland in 1928.
Halifax Building Society
In 1928, it merged with Halifax Equitable Building Society, then the second largest building society and was renamed Halifax Building Society. The Society was now five times larger than its nearest rival, with assets of £47 million.
A new Head Office was built at Trinity Road, Halifax in 1973. The distinctive diamond shaped building was used on marketing material during the 1980s and 90s. Underneath the building is a specially constructed deedstore which is used to store property deeds for a one off charge of £10. It is computerised and filled with foam to prevent fire. Its importance has diminished in recent years because property data is now kept on a central database kept by Her Majesty's Land Registry.
The Society continued to grow in size throughout the 20th century, remaining the UK's largest building society. The deregulation of the financial services industry in the 1980s saw the passing of the Building Societies Act 1986 which allowed societies greater financial freedoms, and diversification into other markets. Accordingly the Halifax acquired an estate agent to complement its mortgage business. It also expanded by offering current accounts and credit cards, traditionally services offered by commercial banks.
The 1986 Act also allowed building societies to demutualise, and become public limited companies instead of mutually owned organisations, owned by the customers who borrowed and saved with the society. Although the Abbey National demutualised in 1989, the process was not repeated until the late 1990s, when most of the large societies announced demutalisation plans. In 1995, the Halifax announced it was to merge with the Leeds Permanent Building Society and convert to a plc. The Halifax floated on the London Stock Exchange on 2 June 1997. Over 7.5 million customers of the Society became shareholders of the new bank, the largest extension of shareholders in UK history.
As Halifax plc, the new bank was the fifth largest in the UK in terms of market capitalisation. Further expansion took place with the 1996 acquisition of Clerical Medical Fund Managers, a UK life insurance company. In 1999, the Halifax acquired the Birmingham Midshires Building Society and ComparetheLoan. In 2000, Halifax established Intelligent Finance, a telephone and internet based bank.
Formation of HBOS
In 2001, a wave of consolidation in the UK banking market led Halifax to agree a £10.8 billion merger with the Bank of Scotland. The new group was named Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) with headquarters in Edinburgh, and retained both Halifax and the Bank of Scotland as brand names. However in Scotland, Halifax branches were amalgamated with the Bank of Scotland, and the Halifax brand is now only used for branding mortgages and savings products. Halifax branches in the rest of the UK use the Bank of Scotland brand for business banking. In 2006 the Bank of Scotland (Ireland), HBOS's main retail bank in the Republic of Ireland, announced that it would be rebranding its retail business as Halifax, citing the Irish public's exposure to Halifax advertising on ITV as among the reasons. The Bank of Scotland name was to be retained for business banking.
In 2006, the HBOS Group Reorganisation Act 2006 was passed. The aim of the Act was to simplify the corporate structure of HBOS. The Act was fully implemented on 17 September 2007 and the assets and liabilities of Halifax plc transferred to Bank of Scotland plc. The Halifax brand name was to be retained as a trading name, but it no longer exists as a legal entity.
Lloyds Banking Group
HBOS was acquired by the Lloyds Banking Group in January 2009 amid falling share price and speculation as to its future. Bank of Scotland plc (including its brands such as Halifax) became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group.
In February 2009, Halifax made significant changes to its current accounts. From then, all new current accounts had zero credit and debit interest, along with no paid and unpaid item charges (which were previously up to £35). Instead, all Halifax current account holders pay £1 per day for being overdrawn by up to £2500 within an arranged overdraft, and £2 per day for over £2500. For unarranged overdrafts the fee is £5 per day. Credit interest has been replaced by a £5 net payment every month. These changes were implemented to all current account customers (except Student accounts) from December 2009. These changes caused a great deal of media attention at the time of the change, with Martin Lewis and consumer magazine Which? urging Halifax customers to keep their accounts in credit wherever possible, or consider moving their accounts to an alternative bank, in response to the new charges.
On 14 November 2009, HBOS was hit by a power failure which affected all branches, cash machines and online banking. The bank said that the power failure occurred at an IT centre in Copley, West Yorkshire  which caused several problems for Halifax's banking system. Halifax's online banking system did not recover from the power failure for several hours.
As of December 2010, Halifax has become a clearing bank, meaning that it can now accept Bank Giro Credits. This has led to major changes in counter services in Halifax branches, requiring paying and withdrawal slips to be completed to carry out transactions. The implementation of Bank Giro Credits will be phased by branch and will take around six months to complete. Halifax is also planning to introduce Chip and PIN machines at its branches' counters as part of these changes.
In 2000, Halifax began a long-running television advertisement campaign featuring staff singing popular songs with the words changed to reflect its financial services products. Halifax employee Howard Brown was the first and most frequently featured star of these adverts. The practice continued following the merger with Bank of Scotland, and Bank of Scotland employees were also allowed to take part.
In December 2006, Natalie Webster and four other Halifax colleagues Richard Willoughby, Jilly Ellard, Nicola Roberts and Paul Dudley, flew to Johannesburg to film the "Halifax remix" of Aretha Franklin's Think. The advertisement was first shown in February 2007. Another advertisement featured Thomas Yau from Leeds singing a version of Herman's Hermits I'm into Something Good. It was first shown in January 2008, though was axed in August 2008.
In January 2010, an advertisement featuring a faux "radio show" was launched, with the actress Sarah Applewood appearing as an employee. The advert was described in the UK newspaper The Sun as "Xcruciating".
- HBoS: Halifax History
- Dawley, Heidi (1997-07-21). "A $60bn bonanza for Britons". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- "BoS and Halifax agree merger". BBC News. 2001-05-04. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- "Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to become Halifax". Rte.ie. 2006-08-25. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- "HBOS Group Reorganisation Act 2006". Opsi.gov.uk. 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- Howard, Bob (2009-10-24). "HBOS overdraft fees criticised". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- "How to beat Halifax's overdraft charges". Moneysavingexpert.com. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- http://www.bankingtimes.co.uk/31102009-halifax-bank-of-scotland-retreat-on-overdraft-charges/ Halifax / Bank of Scotland retreat on overdraft charges Archived 7 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Halifax estate agents sold for £1 BBC News. 16 October 2009
- Published on Saturday 14 November 2009 14:58 (2009-11-14). "Cash machines hit by power cut at bank site - Local". Halifax Courier. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- Alexander, Ruth (2009-11-14). "Power failure hits HBOS - BBC". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
- Knapton, Sarah (7 August 2008). "Halifax's Howard dropped as downturn bites". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- Rollings, Grant (13 January 2010). "We rate the most annoying Halifax adverts ever". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
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