Lloyds Banking Group pointed to a resilient UK economy as it announced a £2bn pre-tax profit for the first three months of 2018, boosted by strong growth at the Halifax.
Halifax's managing director Russell Galley said: “We’ve come off the back of a landmark year for Lloyds Banking Group and Halifax’s contribution was the result of a fantastic team effort. Our strong start to the year reflects our continued focus and investment in helping make our customers better off.
“I’m extremely proud to see that figures for the Current Account Switch Service out today show Halifax as the most switched-to bank on the high street in the third quarter of 2017."
More than a million people have switched their current account to the Halifax since the service began in September 2013.
"What’s amazing is that we’re still attracting more customers every day with our competitive products and second to none customer experience," said Mr Galley.
The Halifax said it is well underway with creating its first flagship branch and is investing in serving customers when and where it suits them. This includes investment in colleagues to help with more complex customer needs and investment in online through the bank's mobile app.
Mr Galley said: “In the next few months you’ll see us ramping up our mortgages campaigns to reinforce our position as the UK’s home of home buying, unveiling our latest TV ad in just a few days which we hope will hit home – quite literally – in our unique Halifax way.
"We’ll also be offering bigger and better cashback as part of our £10bn commitment to helping people take their first step onto the property ladder.”
Lloyds Banking Group's profits rose 6 per cent over the quarter despite another £90m hit from the payment protection insurance scandal, taking its total bill for the saga to a massive £18.8bn.
Bottom line profits rose 23 per cent to £1.6bn.
Lloyds' chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said: "The UK economy continues to be resilient, benefiting from low unemployment and continued GDP growth.
"We expect the economy to continue to perform along these lines during 2018."
“Lloyds has made a good start to 2018,” said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, adding that the bank is benefiting from rising interest rates and its 2016 acquisition of credit card firm MBNA from Bank of America.
He said that while the bank has rebuilt profits and delivered steady returns to investors, share price gains had been more elusive.
Lloyds’ exposure to consumers’ finances via mortgages and unsecured lending like credit cards make it a bellwether for the British economy.
Ken Odeluga, market analyst at City Index, said: "A 23 per cent growth rate to £1.6bn cannot be interpreted in any other way than indicative of robust health across key businesses.
"A UK economy that remains 'resilient, benefiting from low unemployment and continued GDP growth', helps, as Lloyds’s CEO, noted.
"The worry though is that Lloyds is not moving fast enough to shore up defences for a possible deterioration of the outlook, perhaps precipitated by the UK’s exit from the EU."