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This is an article by an independent author and jml Insurance takes no responsibility for its accuracy or content

Whatever has happened to Mike Blackburn's Halifax? Philip Suter

In the UK most of the former building societies that converted to banks, have been taken over. One such bank is HSBOS that was formed partly from the growth of the Halifax under the era of it's Chief Executive Mike Blackburn

Following the events within financial institutions in the UK in late September 2008, Philip Suter recalls some of his memories from working for Yorkshire based building societies who later became banks.

In the early 1980's Banks, Building Societies and some insurance companies started buying up estate agents throughout Britain. The objective was to have a vehicle to sell their mortgage products. Building societies took advantage of the 1986 Building Societies Act which meant they could diversify their activities into estate agency, share selling and off shore banking.

They invested heavily in this, making a lot of estate agents very wealthy overnight. In most cases they bought the trading name. This would have been very well known in the local area, however organisations like Prudential Insurance and the Halifax Building Society thought customers would naturally use these estate agents more if they took on the identity of the parent company

I was running the residential letting office for a firm of agents with offices in south Bucks, west Middlesex and east Berks - Frank Farr & Sons and the agents were sold to the Leeds Permanent Building Society

.

(Left Property Leeds UK Ltd logo) Like other building societies the Leeds set up a limited company to run it's estate agency arm. Their policy however was not to remove the trading names they had purchased. Some of these went back to the 1800s.

The Leeds Permanent was run by Chief Executive Mike Blackburn who had previously worked for Lloyds Bank. I remember meeting him and hearing him speak at a couple of staff meetings and he was most impressive character and leader.

In 1993 he moved to the Halifax Building Society as Chief executive.

Two years later in August 1995, under Mike Blackburn's leadership the larger Yorkshire based Halifax Building Society merged with the smaller Yorkshire based Leeds Permanent Building Society.

Although portrayed as a "merger", the Leeds name was soon phased out with new name being "the Halifax". I still have one of the commemorative pens that were given out to staff. Although the box bears both names, the pen itself just says "Halifax".

Property Leeds UK Ltd became absorbed into Halifax Estate Agents Ltd. Although some re-branding in the estate agency names to Halifax took place, there are still names within the Halifax Estate Agency network that have retained their original names including the firm I worked for.

In 1997 under Mike Blackburn's leadership, the society converted to a Plc. Mike Blackburn retired from the Halifax the following year.

 

In 2001 Halifax Plc merged with the Bank of Scotland and became HBOS (Halifax Bank of Scotland) becoming the fifth largest financial services company in the UK.

All appears to have gone well till 2008, they have retained the estate agency division although much smaller than in the mid 1990's, unlike most of the other former building societies and banks who have pulled out over the past few years as they have been able to sell their mortgage and insurance products without the costs of running estate agents.

Now in October 2008, it looks very likely HBOS will become part of Lloyds TSB and they will naturally be looking at costs and services and sell off Halifax Estate Agents as they sold off their "Black Horse Agencies" and TSB Property Services many years ago.

There have been a lot of changes in the financial industry in the last twenty years or so and a lot more changes will happen in the next.

Philip Suter is a Director of jml Property Services; http://www.jmlproperty.co.uk a UK based company offering Insurance products on line at http://www.jml-insurance.co.uk and a holiday home advertising service and management training within the UK. He is a very experienced property consultant with over 30 years work in the Residential letting business in the UK and served on the National Council of ARLA. He is a Fellow of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and a Member of The association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)

October 2008

The information supplied on this page is by a third party and jml Property Services do not take any responsibility to its accuracy ©Philip Suter of jmlpropertyservices 10/08

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