Higgins, who is currently chief operating officer at Bank of Scotland Ireland, will take up the role on March 5. He has been with HBOS for 10 years.
Higgins will re-port to Peter Jackson, head of products, and work alongside Nigel Stockton, managing director of HBOS Intermediaries, and David Nicholson, head of retail networks and e-commerce.
A spokesman for HBOS says: “Joe will be the driving force behind our mortgage business.”
John Malone, managing director of Premier Mortgage Service, says: “The southern Ireland market is worth about 25bn and now Higgins will be running the show across the UK which includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
“This is a step up but maybe he has shown that he has the qualifications and qualities to do it.”