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40 new jobs for Westport

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GOOD NEWS An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD and Professor Patrick Honohan, Governor of The Central Bank, are pictured with Michael Lafferty, Chairman, Lafferty Group at the jobs announcment in Knockranny House Hotel. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

40 new jobs planned for Westport


Lafferty Group plans to open research division by Christmas

Neill O’Neill

THE Lafferty Group hopes to have the research and content division of its International Academy of Retail Banking (IARB) up and running in Westport by Christmas this year. At an official announcement function in Knockranny House Hotel on Friday, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and group founder, CEO and Chairman, Mr Michael Lafferty, confirmed that the Lafferty Group is to locate key educational and publishing activities for the global banking industry in Westport, creating around 40 jobs over the next three years.
An international firm that has grown to become a major provider of advanced knowledge services for the financial industry, The Lafferty Group is London-based but has clients across the world. The Westport operation will create around a dozen jobs initially, but this number is expected to grow incrementally into the future.
Locations for their offices are being scouted in the town at present, and The Mayo News understands that a specific site is currently under advanced consideration. No figure has yet been released on the actual monetary value of the investment in Westport by The Lafferty Group.
As revealed in last week’s Mayo News, negotiations between the company’s senior executives and community, business and local authority leaders have been on-going behind the scenes for many months. Their combined efforts culminated in last week’s announcement.
The Lafferty Group is a banking education, research and publishing company established over 30 years ago by Ballaghaderreen native Michael Lafferty.
The proposed Westport activities will include the research and content division of the International Academy of Retail Banking (IARB), a new Lafferty business that began its international rollout last year. The IARB has clients in over 20 countries.
The academy has been designed by an international group of senior retail bankers to provide professional education programmes and examinations for the retail banking sector, as well as acting as an international professional body for retail bankers.
The worldwide content for the academy’s programmes will be researched and developed in the Westport office.
The academy is governed by a global advisory board of senior retail bankers and academics. Its Academic Director is Professor Abdul Rahman, Professor of Finance at the University of Ottawa in Canada. It is co-chaired by Dick Harryvan, former CEO of international retail bank ING Direct, which Mr Lafferty called the greatest retail bank of the last 80 years, and Michael Lafferty himself.
The Academy faculty is drawn mainly from the ranks of current and former retail bankers, card and payments executives, as well as from academia across the globe. The Academy provides education through classroom tuition within individual banks, mainly in the English language. It also provides open courses attended by executives from multiple banks, and Michael Lafferty added that the work of the academy will eventually be rolled out in other languages.
The Academy expects to be accredited by the UK’s Chartered Banker Institute, the oldest banking institute in the world, and by national educational regulators in Singapore, South Africa and other countries in which it will run programmes.
The Academy programmes and qualifications will have a broadly similar structure to the education systems of the Irish and UK accounting bodies and will combine work experience, classroom study and examinations.
The governor of the Irish Central Bank, Professor Patrick Honohan, was also in Westport last week for the announcement, where Michael Lafferty revealed that it was UCD Professor of Finance and Banking, Ray Kinsella, who first sowed the seeds that led to his company choosing Westport as the Irish town in which to establish a base. Professor Kinsella has long been associated with promoting Westport as a location for business development. Mr Lafferty lauded the role of the IDA and of County Manager Peter Hynes, in making the decision ‘an easy one to make’.
“They were determined to make this happen, and I met many others from Westport,” he said, adding, “We looked at many other locations but nowhere could match Westport, this is an extraordinarily impressive community.”
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny revealed that he had met with Michael Lafferty in Government Buildings last year, and was struck by the power of his argument for ‘revolution in the banking sector’.
“This man has considerable experience in the banking sector and it is great to see him go from St Nathy’s [school in Ballaghaderreen where Michael Lafferty was educated] back to Westport,” said the Taoiseach. He added that since the information leaked about the Lafferty Group locating in Westport, they have had a ‘stream of contact from people looking to set up in the town’.
“The Lafferty Group coming to Westport sends out a strong message, and they will be made welcome in Ireland and in Westport, and their operation here will be a magnet for other countries looking for advice on retail banking. The Government will support this initiative in any way we can, and we look forward to seeing The Lafferty Group growing and adding to the perspective that business can be trusted in Ireland,” he concluded.
Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Cllr Ollie Gannon, also warmly welcomed the news, and described the Lafferty Group’s announcement as a huge confidence boost for all the people of Westport. “This is a testament to all the hard work that has taken place in Westport over may years and the community should be proud today,” he said. “This company will be made very welcome in Westport, and we look forward to working alongside them as Westport and their operation here prosper together into the future.”