Someone stole my bank

It’s all change on the high street again so I suggest you take notes. Lloyds Banking Group (you know, what used to trip off the tongue as Lloyds Bank, C&G, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Scottish Widows, TSB, Intelligent Finance and others), announced today that they will close all C&G branches in November.

Hmmm I hear you say, that’s bad news for those who will lose their jobs, and you’re right, but it’s not quite as straightforward as that. Sir Victor Blank (Chairman LBG) must have a soft spot for brokers as he’s letting us keep the name, so you’ll still be able to have a C&G mortgage, but only if arranged through a broker. From precisely 8.01 pm on 8th July, Intelligent Finance will only be available for savings, (and for parity, not through brokers), and at the same time Bank of Scotland will be available for new mortgages not through brokers, but only in Scotland.

Still with me? Not for much longer! Lloyds TSB will start to offer their own mortgages, and Scottish Widows will continue to do the same. BM Solutions (formerly Birmingham Midshires) will continue to offer their owner occupier and buy to let mortgages (only through brokers), but mercifully Halifax will remain unchanged.

As soon as we’re used to that (or even before), the second armada arrives as Santander becomes the latest super lender to make changes. From 2010 Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley (they only own the savings part of this one) will start to disappear from our high streets, to be replaced by Santander. But hang on, it’s not as simple as that because if you approach a broker for a mortgage, you may well be recommended one with either Abbey or A&L, as once again, we’re special.

“Get the Santander habit”? Doesn’t quite flow like it used to.

Notwithstanding all the confusion above, there are two very serious issues that will arise from these reshuffles.

First and foremost, there will be a lot of good people who will lose their jobs, many of whom we at L&C know personally, and in this economic climate, things will be particularly tough, so we wish them all the best and hope they find new employment quickly.

Secondly with both groups having multiple banking licences, customers who have savings with more than one institution under either the LBG or Santander umbrellas, will have greater protection through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme than the usual £50,000. However, if the structural changes result in a reduction in licenses, savers may want to rethink their arrangements.

I’m almost too scared to think about the recent report expecting 4-5 building societies to fail in the next 12 months, but we’ll get used to it. Anyone remember the Midland?

Did I mention Clerical Medical?

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