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45 Reviews
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lesson Learned? Sadly not.
I don't normally read this sort of book, but as an ex-HBOS employee of ten years, including the period of near-bankruptcy in late 2008, I was interested to know exactly how the collapse was brought about. I worked in one of the call centres dealing only with personal customers, light-years from the world of nine- and ten-figure corporate finance deals, but many of the...
Published 17 months ago by Michael J. Houston

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HBOS and Northern Rock the Del Boys of banking
It was a bit heavier than I expected but I soon learned that it needed to be. The gross incompetence and arrogance fuelled by greed propelled the bank(HBOS) towards an inevitable disaster. How were they ever allowed to lend in that fashion in the first place?.
Published 14 months ago by john boyle


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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Brilliant Analysis., 22 April 2015
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Absolutely brilliant , well researched book if you're into that sort of stuff. In the 1990's I regarded BoS as the UK's best run bank. I had a lot to do with its subsidiary, Capital Bank based in Chester so I saw it from the inside but as an independent interested party. If BoS had taken over Halifax, rather than vice versa, things would have been VERY different. I feel very sorry for the staff and also about the demise of a great banking institution. Sadly, It'll happen again as it always does in banking. Well done, Ray.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Was it just the banks at fault?, 22 Sept. 2014
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I found the book to be very informative. Whilst the banks were to blame it was also clear that many other institutions were also at fault. Clearly the decision to take control from the BoE was a step to far.
Although many banks have been fined very few people have been taken to court. Is this because the banks were working to the rules?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 9 Sept. 2014
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A very informative, honest and interesting book written in simple, understandable language for the layman and the more informed too.
It is a pity everyone can now be wise after the event!! Excellent.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 18 Jan. 2013
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I am thoroughly enjoying this book. I lived through the good days of the B of S and had friends who worked at all levels for the bank. I think what happened to it is very sad.

Mike Mayer
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb account and analysis of the HBOS debacle, 7 April 2013
This review is from: Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain (Hardcover)
I recommend this excellent book to anyone who wants to understand banks and how not to run them. Written with verve and great lucidity it provides an insight into both the history of banking and how they work in the present era, in language that a non-expert can follow. Ray Perman uses his experience as a financial journalist and as someone close to the centre of the Edinburgh financial world to trace the confluence of events and decisions that led to the demise of the Bank of Scotland, a rightly revered Scottish institution. He reveals that it was the abandonment of sound banking practice, learnt over 300 years, together with a fierce and unchecked drive for sales that fatally unbalanced the deposit and lending accounts that left no hiding place for HBOS when the subprime crisis struck. On the way the readers will be able to draw their own conclusions regarding the key players in the tragedy. Perman is even-handed and shows what may seem as a surprising degree of goodwill to some of the characters. Nevertheless he does not flinch from clearly showing how it was indeed hubris that, collectively and individually, led to a failure that left decent, hard-working bank employees on modest salaries unemployed. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 16 July 2014
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Great insight into the fall of a once respected institution.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fall from grace, 26 Mar. 2013
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This book provides an in-depth analysis of the recent disastrous history of the Bank of Scotland following a highly successful period prior to its involvement with Halifax. I have recommended it to others who are customers of the Bank.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales From The Riverbank, 22 Jan. 2013
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An interesting and not too long analysis of the collapse of Scotland's other bank, the Bank of Scotland (the other being the Royal Bank of Scotland ruined by Fred Goodwin).

After the Bank merged with the Halifax to become HBOS (though BOSH would have made more sense) it was then taken over by Lloyds to save it from having to be rescued by the Government (as Northern Rock had been some months earlier). Many people didn't like the deal apparently agreed on by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Lloyds Chairman Victor Blank over some drinks. On disgruntled investor stated, "I find it profoundly disturbing that this deal was cooked up at a cocktail party with the Prime Minister who set aside competition law. Most of us think this deal stinks."

It did.

But neither Brown nor Blank cared. The deal went south. Many investors lost out as did employees of HBOS (and Lloyds) who lost their jobs - and saw their savings wiped out. Another critic stated, "Tens of thousands of extra families will now see their lives blighted by unemployment and its resultant misery. Why? Because politicians [like Gordon Brown] put their own egos and political agendas before the welfare of the people they purport to represent."

(For a similar story on the other side of the Atlantic see Bush and Paulson's rescue of AIG in "All The Devils Are Here".)

Ironically the very reason the deal fell apart was that Lloyds analysts did not take enough time to see what was on HBOS' books. The same reasons that precipitated the collapse of other banks and financial institutions on both sides of the Atlantic in the first place.

Alistair Darling's (who writes a foreward to this book) Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11 is well worth a look. As is Gordon Brown's "Beyond The Crash". Though Brown's book could have been reduced to one sentence: Don't vote for politicians like me!

In 1978, when Scotland's World Cup team was bundled out of the tournament at the group stage in Argentina, many Scots fans sang "We want our money back, we want out money back!" in the ears of Scotland manager Ally McLeod. You can't beat the old songs!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, 30 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain (Hardcover)
Having previously worked for Halifax and been a victim of the fallout following the city boy's bad lending, this book answers all the questions and more, confirms rumours, etc. Cracking read.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice informative read, 8 Jan. 2013
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This was a nice and easy read of an interesting story. Not a difficult read and flowed well.I think there was a little bias in the book of who was at fault for the collapse but at the same time l can't help feel that bias is justified to a degree. Good simple explanation as to the issue of funding and liquidity means you are not picking up a textbook in banking finance. For me an enjoyable read.
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Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain
Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain by Ray Perman (Hardcover - 6 Sept. 2012)
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