Twenty eight Ulster Bank business banking staff were the first in Ireland to receive a Certificate in Agricultural Finance, awarded by Chartered Banker as part of the Bank’s Agriculture Accreditation Programme.

The certificate is awarded to those managers who undertake the Agricultural Finance course that involves a series of training modules as well as a period working with businesses in the sector.

Ulster Bank partnered with the Chartered Banker to introduce an industry-accredited programme for staff who work with businesses in the agricultural sector. The training modules included an analysis of the agricultural sector in Ireland, assessment of farm business performance and efficiency standards, EU Policy such as Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, and industry developments.

“This demonstrates the importance we place on providing our people with the right skills, behaviours and knowledge for their roles and in their interactions with agricultural businesses,” said Dr. Ailish Byrne, Senior Agricultural Manager, Ulster Bank.

“By equipping our people with these skills, we can better assist our customers to realise their business ambitions, whether that’s expansion, diversification or export. It also enables us to be more proactive in meeting the needs of our customers. Combined with the €1.2bn we have available to lend to businesses across Ireland in 2014, we’re demonstrating our commitment to providing targeted expert support for local enterprise.”

The course commenced in late 2013 with the agribusiness development managers visiting Greenfield Dairy Farm in Kilkenny where they were provided an overview of dairy systems, technological advancement, pasture management and financial benchmarking facilitated by Teagasc dairy specialists. Participation on the Agriculture Accreditation Programme will form part of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.

“As well as completing the academic modules, our Agribusiness Development Managers also spent a short period of time working with businesses in the sector including farms, marts, processors and others involved in the agri-supply chain”, continued Dr. Byrne. “This provided great insight into the challenges and opportunities our customers face in running and growing their businesses.”