Halifax prepares online bank for the rich

But the company has refused to name a launch date after its last online foray was beset by delays.

The site, St James Place, will follow the same model as the banking group’s Intelligent Finance (IF) venture which went live last November.

Named after financial services group St James Place Capital, of which Halifax owns 60 per cent, the site will focus solely on ‘high net worth individuals’.

The site will offer the same five products as IF: mortgages, savings, personal loans, current accounts and credit cards, says IF IT director George Scarlett.

‘It is the same concept, just with some bells and whistles added onto it. It is separately branded, but it is our technology and our staff that are going to be handling it,’ he said.

Customers will be offered higher credit limits to match their credit status as high earners.

The site will be launched in stages over the next few weeks.

‘We are launching the same way we did with IF, the telephone bank first and a few months after that, the internet. The number of staff will depend on volume but we have trained 60 people,’ Scarlett said.

But he won’t be drawn on naming a date for the launch. ‘It will launch in the next few weeks. There is no specific date,’ he said.

IF was beset by delays in the run-up to its launch. The IF telephone system was originally due to go live in July last year, but was delayed when the system failed pre-launch load-tests.

After repeat tests, the call centre finally went live in September, followed by the online system.

Both St James Place and IF were created with the help of integrator and systems provider Lynx Financial Systems, which provided the core technology that powers Halifax’s mortgage, savings and personal loan systems.

‘Developing a system ourselves was thought to be high-risk and would take a long time. Lynx was used in other places. A number of people in the management team were experienced in online banks,’ said Scarlett.

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