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on 23 August 2015
I lost £2000 savings when HBOS failed. I could ill afford to lose it but other people lost much more. For some naïve reason I assumed that Scottish banks were prudent, honest, well managed etc. This book shows how wrong I, and most other people were. It has wider implications however.
Anyone not working in a bank at a senior level, and that's the majority of us, cannot know what is really going on in banks. And what's going on is not good, then or now. There are some better protections for "ordinary" people in terms of money deposited but that's all. Selling product is still one of the main features of the banks, whether it is to your benefit or not. The financial press is not much good. Who has the time to read all the financial information out there? Read this and learn to protect yourself if possible, and do not trust any bank.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2012
I have to commend, not just recommend this book. It is a well-written, clear explanation of what happened to Bank of Scotland/HBOS and, more importantly, why it happened. It is well researched and avoids exactly the sort of technical jargon the banks employed to befuddle the regulators and their customers, indeed it explains what that jargon actually means so the reader can properly understand what the banks (not just HBOS) were really getting up to. Because of that, it is a good read, not just a list of events and facts. The commentary is pithy and entertaining. The most salutary lesson becomes increasingly clear throughout the book - "management" is not a generic skill. This should be a recommended, if not compulsory, text at every Business School and mandatory reading for every financial policy maker and regulator. If I have any criticism, it is that the photographs could be better!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2014
Historically and factually informative, gives an insight into how people in privileged positions of power can abuse their power for self gain, and be incompetent to such a level without quality and management controls identifying the potential consequences.
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on 31 January 2015
I did not enjoy reading this book and would not recommend it. Better accounts of the banking failures of recent years include Making It Happen and Bad Banks.

The author focuses relentlessly on personal points and never misses an opportunity to belittle people needlessly, for example for being bald or short. At the same time he sucks up to other characters, notably "talented businessmen Sir Philip Green" (whose baldness goes unmentioned). He spends a lot of time recounting his own experiences as a customer, including a summary of his problems when a computer error led to him being denied access to his account for several days - yawn.

Regarding what went wrong, he seems to cover the bases. But the writing turned me off and I just couldn't wait to get it over with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2013
As son of an "old school" banker I had to read this! I'm afraid that my understanding of the banking world is not very good but what I read certainly is worrying! I hope that the banking world is taking notice of past mistakes!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2014
This is an informative and well written account. The author, a journalist, knows his stuff, particularly the BoS angle and has a adequate knowledge of HBOS post merger. His writing style is very good, and this is an easy book to digest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2013
I found this slow-paced and superficial I'm afraid and it could have benefitted from a more rigorous edit. Not nearly as entertaining as Iain Martin's Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2013
Ray Perman, the first Scottish correspondent for the FINANCIAL TIMES, has written the definitive book, HUBRIS, which adroitly explains the downfall of the Bank of Scotland. In this blow by blow account, Perman shows how the once proud and long established bank was taken over by Halifax and driven to excessive corporate lending to offset savage competition in the mortgage market when Halifax started losing market share. The corporate lenders led by Peter Cummings went for larger and larger and commensurate riskier lending packages at the worse possible time to the weakest sectors - retail and property in an overheated London. Meanwhile, the Board had no inkling what was happening nor apparently bothered to ask questions as long as the fees and equity kickers kept flowing. Once again a financial institution and taxpayers were let down by excessive deal making and an incompetent board who said little and did nothing. If you want to find out what really went wrong with the second biggest player in the UK banking crisis, I strongly recommend Perman's book which is well written, fascinating and easily understood.

Now that Vince Cable is finally getting around to look at disqualifying Crosby, Hornby and Stevenson from being board members, what about all the directors at other failed financial service companies who also got away without being held to account? Another case of closing the barn door long after the livestock has bolted leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab left behind by overly rewarded, rapacious and incompetent board members.

Kerry Napuk, BSc, MA, professional non executive director and author, THE STRATEGY LED BUSINESS (MCGRAW-HILL, 1996)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2013
Well written. Of great interest to anyone who has works in one of these banks and educational for others who work or have an interest in the cause of the financial crisis of 2008
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on 10 June 2015
Hubris is a must read for anyone interested in the causes and implications of the banking crisis. It's very well written and researched. As the HBOS whistleblower myself, I have found it tremendously useful in giving me all the background to the history of Bank of Scotland as well as insight into what happened at HBOS after I left. I have to say that I was a little surprised that Ray did not interview me for his book because I think I could've added further detail and corrected one or two slight errors both factual and of opinion. Nevertheless, it's a great read and I strongly recommend it.
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