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RBA Chairman, Michael Lafferty, discusses his reasons for establishing the RBA

I was 17 at the time and had come to London for a working holiday. Before long I was thinking about a professional career and soon found myself comparing opportunities in banking, insurance, law and accountancy.



Having convinced myself that I wanted to study for a real profession, I could not get excited about banking or insurance. At the time both seemed half-baked in their approach to professionalism, whereas law and accountancy were the opposite – with demanding examinations, codes of conduct and not least a high status in society – whether in public practice or industry. In the end I opted to become a chartered accountant on a paltry salary of £550 a year while I served my articles (apprenticeship), even though I could have earned four times as much if I had chosen to become a certified accountant.

The decision was the right one, and after four years of hard slog doing audit work across Britain and studying for my exams at night, I saw my salary multiply overnight when I earned the right to call myself a chartered accountant.

Unexpectedly, a career in journalism with the Financial Times beckoned and that took me into writing about accounting, finance and banking – and eventually into setting up my own business. This has focused on the global banking industry, and retail banking in particular, ever since.

That journey eventually led to the establishment of the Retail Banking Academy, and it was here that I found myself thinking back to the decisions I made back in the mid-1970s when I decided that the sort of professionalism I wanted was more like that of a chartered accountant than a banker. This is why we took my own professional body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, as the model for RBA.

So how does all this manifest itself in the work of the Academy?

1. The Academy has been established as a professional body with its own demanding qualifications, notably Certified Retail Banker (CRB) and Certified Cards and Payments Professional (CCPP).

2. All members are bound by RBA’s code of ethics, which requires them always to act in the best interests of customers.

3.Members are also required to follow a programme of continuous professional development (CPD).

4. Finally, members are subject to the discipline of their peers.



The absence of a professional culture has undoubtedly been a major contributory factor in the banking crisis of the past 20 years. RBA aims to change this, at least in the field of retail banking. Hence our motto: Empowering Bankers. Serving People.

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