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A Tribute to Michael Lafferty


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Entrepreneur and publisher Michael Lafferty, founder of Lafferty Group and Retail Banking Institute, has died following a short illness. An authority on retail banking and payments, Michael Lafferty built several knowledge businesses providing research, intelligence, management councils, advisory services, and training and education to clients around the world over the course of a 50-year career. His many colleagues, friends and clients paid tribute this morning.

Born into a large family in Ballaghaderreen in Co. Roscommon, Michael qualified as a chartered accountant in 1972, becoming a Fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. In 1975 he joined the Financial Times, where he worked for six years as banking correspondent, accounting correspondent and LEX columnist. Seeing that the growing field of retail banking was not being covered well by the media, he created his own publishing business in 1981 to launch the Retail Banker International newsletter. In the following years, the business grew and expanded globally, opening offices in New York, Dublin, Washington DC, and Singapore. His success was acknowledged at the highest levels in 1988 when he received The Queen's Award for Enterprise.

There are few countries Michael Lafferty had not visited while spreading his vision for retail banking. His dream to establish the headquarters of the business in his native Ireland was realised in 2014 when he set up an office in Westport, Co Mayo, which is now home to Retail Banking Institute and Lafferty Group.

"I'm privileged to have worked closely with Michael, who was a visionary and a great friend and colleague for almost 10 years," said Caroline Hastings, chief executive of Lafferty Group. "My deepest sympathies are with his family. We will all miss him. We are proud to continue the work he started and we're committed to continue his mission to deliver excellence in retail banking education and research to every part of the world for our members and clients."

"It was an exciting ten years working and travelling with Michael," said Ronan Lynch, director of Retail Banking Institute. "He loved the idea of 'real banking for real people' and was a great believer in the power of knowledge and education. His ambition was to bring professional standards and qualifications to banking, and the thousands of people trained by Lafferty Group and Retail Banking Institute are testament to his success."

"Michael was a unique person and professional," said Carlos Wanderley, banker and faculty member at Retail Banking Institute. "He was full of ideas, dreams, values, and ideals. I had the privilege to meet him while in London and since then I have been sharing ideas and projects with him as an active supporter of the Lafferty Group and more recently, as a faculty member of the RBI. His legacy will continue."

"Michael Lafferty is one of the very unique iconic people that had a lifelong mission to serve the community of bankers and economists," said Dr Essam El Mallakh of Retail Banking Institute. "I knew him for more than 30 years and became part of his institution where he was a creative, courage, hard worker, more on the giving side than the taking side."

Victor Etuokwu, executive director at Access Bank, said Michael Lafferty was an innovator and a trailblazer. "His passion for empowering individuals with knowledge and skills has inspired many generations of retail bankers," he said. "Through his guidance and foresight, Michael Lafferty paved the way for innovation and advancement in the retail banking sector. His legacy will forever be cherished, as his contributions continue to shape the future of our industry. His visionary spirit and dedication to education will forever inspire us to strive for greatness."

"Michael's legacy as a pioneer in retail banking is truly remarkable, and it's clear he made a significant impact on the industry," said Neka Udezue from Access Bank's School of Banking Excellence. "His vision and mission will undoubtedly continue to inspire many."

"He was passionate about the work of the Institute and his passion was infectious," said Nana Abban, group executive for consumer banking at Ecobank. "He contributed immensely to developing Retail Banking professionals across continents and his work will live on."

"The Sage passes on," said Patrick Akinwuntan, joint chairman of Retail Banking Council Africa. "Michael was authentic. Cosmopolitan in view and operation but nonetheless profoundly loyal to his Irish roots, Michael was really fun to be with. Witty, deeply knowledgeable, innovative and full of vigour, he inspired many of us across the globe irrespective of kith, kin, colour, race or orientation."

Julian Opuni, MD of Fidelity Bank Ghana, which hosted the last Retail Banking Council Africa event in Accra last May, said it was a sad day for the Lafferty community. "Michael will be sorely missed." "I call him the Retail Banking Apostle," said Nana-Esi Idun-Arkhurst, divisional director for retail banking at Fidelity Bank. "Having worked in Retail Banking for the best part of my career, I was resigned to this area often being overlooked as the poor cousin and always having to fight for its rightful place at the table of bankers. It was therefore a delight to meet Micheal through Retail Banking Council Africa in 2018. He was a firm believer in Retail Banking who dedicated himself to not only advocating but building community and laying a solid foundation to grow and groom astute professional Retail bankers for today and the next generation."

"Michael Lafferty has passed on but not before conducting a master class on how to craft a life worth living," said Ram Sundaram of TerraPay. "On how a little poetry and grace, even against the unlovely backdrop of global banking, raises the gaze towards making a more just world. The word 'visionary' is a thrown about a bit, but not in this case."

"Sadness and shock best describe my feelings when I just received the news that Michael has passed on," said Agada Apochi, managing director of Unified Payments. "But as I reflect on the impact that Michael created in retail banking and payments through the Lafferty Academy, I'm consoled by the positive memories that I have of Michael, and how proud I am of his achievements. I'm a proud fellow of the Lafferty Institute and together, we worked to ensure a higher level of professionalism in the industry, particularly in Nigeria."

"I came to know Michael through his passion for Africa's financial education crusade," said Thairu Ndungu, deputy managing director at Consolidated Bank Ghana. "The passion he portrayed was enormous and deep from the heart. He reached out to most financial institutions across the continent and brought them together to share experiences and new emerging technologies. When I say the African financial fraternity has lost a brother, I believe I will be speaking for many."

"I have known and respected Michael for many years. He is a huge loss for the industry, but more importantly for his family, friends and colleagues. He has left a great legacy and his impact on the world on retail will never be forgotten," said Rob Giles from Access Bank. "He was a legend. Let's keep the cause alive!"

"He was an amazing person – smart, charming, passionate and great company," said Matt Sloan, Managing Director EMEA for Discover. "In the banking and payments industry he was a force for good, always ready to challenge and push for improvements. He will be much missed by his many friends."

"He was not only a very knowledgeable guru, but also had this ability to make immaculate forecasts about the financial services industry," said Sriram Natarajan, president of Quinte Financial Technologies, and a longtime friend and correspondent. "He leaves behind a huge legacy of unbiased commentary, learning and research materials which will last beyond our lifetime too. The best tribute that I can pay is to continue to support the Lafferty Group (as he would demand!) and carry the flag forward as per his exacting standards."

Longtime colleague Ugo Bechis paid tribute to Michael Lafferty's 'young spirit'. "I know Michael since 1977, both of us in London working on opposite sides of Cannon Street, Michael at the FT and myself at BofA," he said. "I learned from him what guided me along all these years, 'the angle' to look at present to foresee the future, to catch the seeds of the next developments. Retail banking has changed a lot but Michael's young spirit helped all of us to keep up with the key developments."

Payments expert Rizwan Qazi said he had lost not only a friend but a father figure who was always available to give advice. "I knew Michael for more than 20 years, and I pledge to help Ronan and Caroline and the team to continue his legacy," he said.

"As we remember Michael, let us all reflect on the legacy he leaves behind – a legacy of innovation, compassion, and a profound belief in the potential for positive change," said Sailesh Sewpaul, chief executive of PEX in Mauritius. "In the days ahead, let us honour his memory by continuing the work he started and carrying forward the torch of progress in both retail banking and education."

"Michael was a much-admired operator with an incisive mind who made a positive impact on many of us in the industry," said Sabila Din, who first started working with Michael in Singapore in the early days of the millennium. "I was honoured to contribute to many of his innovative initiatives and remain committed to supporting the team building the RBI legacy he leaves behind."

"It was always a pleasure to interact with Michael," said Paul Griffiths, faculty member at RBI and Professor of Finance at EM Normandie. "We had lovely times travelling around Latin America talking to bankers – and always time for a ceviche in Lima or a steak in Buenos Aires or a fish barbeque at home in Santiago. He will be missed."

"It is a great loss to the banking industry and in particular retail and personal banking," said Derek Wong of Dah Sing Bank. "He devoted his whole life to promote retail banking and the relevant training and education. Every one of us will miss him."

"He was a truly unique character and persistently encouraged innovation and improvements in all financial services," said Nick Ogden, founder of WorldPay and ClearBank. "His input and humour will be missed."

"Michael has left a great legacy," said Mike Ogbalu, chief executive of PAPSS. "His impact on the world of retail banking will never be forgotten."

"His legacy and thought leadership will certainly live on through the Lafferty Council and the Retail Banking Institute, and the impacts that he has had on so many people's lives," said Mark Van Beuningen, chief executive at CIM Finance in Mauritius.

"Michael was a force of kindness and knowledge, touching everyone he met," said Samer Soliman, chief executive at AFS. "His mind was a treasure trove, and he was always ready to share stories and insights making the unknown seem familiar."

"Michael was such a special person and was so passionate about Retail Banking and he influenced so many people," said former Barclays banker Paul Nice. "I was so proud to represent Lafferty as a course tutor for a number of years. I did not consider it as work as it was such a joy to teach and mentor people of many different nationalities."

"We'd known each other for almost 35 years and partnered in several nice projects," said Igor Lipanov. "Michael was a great guy in every respect, business and personal."

"He was an amazingly well-informed business leader, driving us all to challenge our thinking and improve the industry," said Eugene de Villiers, chief executive of Pepkor, who contributed richly to council meetings. "Michael was a wonderful mentor and will be sorely missed. Many of our Company have enjoyed meeting and interacting with Michael, and all have become richer from the meeting."

Michael Lafferty will be buried in Ballaghaderreen.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Michael's family invites people to pay tribute in the Remembrance Book. Please click the link below.

Remembrance Book

Retail Banking Institute

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