Cumbria Crack

Agricultural Manager for Cumbria and North Lancashire

Further expanding its agricultural division, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank strengthens commitment to farming’s future.
Sara Ireland, Agricultural Manger Cumbria and Lancashire Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, owned by Virgin Money UK continues to build on its farm presence and support to agriculture in Cumbria and North Lancashire with the news of Sara Ireland’s appointment earlier this year. Now established as an Agricultural Relationship Manager in the area, Sara’s appointment highlights the Bank’s commitment to strengthening its agricultural team from the very best talent available. This strategic development indicates the Bank’s innovative approach to the sector as it goes through a significant period of change.

At such an unpredictable time, there is a growing need to offer a greater diversity and delivery of financial products to the agricultural industry. In a move to drive their rural support and agricultural financing strategy, the Bank is deploying highly experienced advisors to provide proactive and localised guidance to farmers across the UK.

Sara Ireland is an up and coming figure in the agricultural banking world. Growing up in Kendal she first developed her agriculture expertise within the commercial banking sector and is now fully aware of the opportunities and challenges that the industry faces. In her role with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, Sara speaks directly to agricultural businesses and farmers across Cumbria and North Lancashire to provide support and advice and to build long-term relationships.

Commenting on her new position, Sara said: “Agriculture is one of the main industries in the area, so my aim is to look after our farming customers as their successes are fundamental not only to their own enterprises, but to the local economy and to local livelihoods. I will use my knowledge of the farming industry to help customers explore how to make greater efficiencies, as well as to support any changes which they may be considering such as diversification, expansion or development plans.”

Financial guidance also takes the form of assessing any new government legislation or changes to environmental schemes that will affect agricultural clients. This way, the Bank can scope out opportunities to access support and potentially increase their customers’ business margins in the long-term.

Sara continues: “With many years of knowledge from working with farmers, I really understand the challenges they face. For me, it’s about getting under the skin of each business and looking at both the long and short-term projections to see what can be done to future-proof enterprises. Especially as we go into a period of transition, with Brexit and the acceleration of the green agenda.”

This kind of proactive support is exactly the reason the Agricultural team was created, and Brian Richardson, UK Head of Agriculture at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank spoke about Sara’s appointment adding:

“We are really excited to have Sara joining the team. Her banking and agricultural knowledge is a very valuable asset to both our clients and to us. Having this localised specialist knowledge and strong personal relationships with farmers is absolutely critical going forward. This builds on our national focus of having a strong agricultural offering, with relationship managers based locally who have a clear knowledge and empathy with the sector. With this year being particularly challenging, farming is facing a period of adjustment and adaptation going into the 2020s. Sara’s agri-expertise and fresh outlook means she will be a manager who understands the issues that farmers have to grapple with, while being well placed to work on innovative solutions that will support and keep farming businesses fit and agile over the next decade.”

Working to navigate the sector’s upheavals will be a long-term endeavour, and with its national team of agricultural specialist managers, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank is positioning its expertise as the first port of call for farmers looking to future-proof their operations. Lending to the agriculture and wider food sector to facilitate innovation is a high priority area for Virgin Money, and financial products will increasingly focus on environmental transition projects as the industry seeks to meet its Net Zero target by 2040.

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