Was HBOS an ethical bank?

On the day that Robert Peston breaks news of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards draft report, I’m on my way to speak to an interesting group of bankers in Dublin. Questions sent in advance may whet the appetite for tonight’s dinner.

Bank Of Scotland
Was HBOS an ethical bank?

Peston’s story on the BBC website this morning outlines the Commission’s reasons for breaking RBS into ‘good and bad’ banks – and why George Osborne might not welcome the suggestion.

The story also mentions another option being considered by the Treasury: surgically removing the most troublesome part of RBS, the loss-making Ulster Bank. “One idea would be to transfer Ulster Bank into the arms and ownership of the Irish government…”

That’s not what I will be talking about (my talk will focus on HBOS not RBS) but the story does highlight the close and complex relationships that bind (fetter might be a better word) the world’s banks.

Few countries takes a more painfully informed view than Ireland and tonight’s speech has already been shaped by highly pertinent questions prepared well in advance.

  1. Who was really in charge at HBOS – BoS or Halifax people, or wheeler-dealers?
  2. What became the dominant culture at HBoS?
  3. How relevant and useful was the retailer culture?
  4. When did the board come to realise that HBoS was in serious trouble?
  5. Any insights on the disastrous move into Ireland?
  6. Was HBoS an ethical bank

And the audience? A meeting of international retail bankers. It promises to be an interesting discussion