James Garvey is an expert in commercial banking, financing and risk management, and capital markets products and solutions with 32 years of experience in the financial services sector.
What is your role at Blackrock Expert Services Group?
I am a founding partner of Martello Financial Services. With my colleague Richard Moore, we launched the company in 2019, as part of the Blackrock Expert Services Group. Our aim is to offer world class expert witness services to the financial services industry, a sector which is made up of many different niche areas of operation. Martello Financial Services has therefore established a network of 100+ experts that are accredited to our business, from all walks of financial services life. Our intention is to create a portfolio of subject matter experts wide and deep enough to cater for the requirements of lawyers and their clients. Our business is also complementary to another of the Group companies, Haberman Ilett, a firm of renowned experts in the forensic accounting and valuation field. My own time is spent recruiting additional experts to our practice as well as meeting lawyers, within their financial disputes practices, to understand what specialist expertise they need for their case pipelines. My background is in investment banking, so I will also take on expert work if cases emerge which are a match with my own career experience.
What is your background?
I was born and raised in a village in Dublin called Blackrock and I went to school at Blackrock College, which is where I met Blackrock Expert Services founder David Barry. Not many people know this, but David named his business after the village he came from. I studied engineering and maths at Trinity College Dublin and came to the UK in the late 80’s, originally working as an engineer, before I transitioned into banking. I retired from Lloyds Bank in September 2019 after more than 30 years working as a banker. During my career, I spent 10 years at the Union Bank of Switzerland, 10 years at Goldman Sachs and then 10 years at Lloyds Bank. Since leaving Lloyds Bank, I have taken on several non-executive directorship roles. One is with Standard & Poors, the global rating agency. I am also on the National Theatre’s Development Board in the UK and on the endowment investment Board of my University, Trinity College Dublin.
What made you interested in launching Martello Financial Services?
When I left Lloyds Bank, I wanted to continue to use my background, knowledge and network in the financial services industry. The legal industry has historically been quite poorly served when it comes to highly specialised financial services expert witnesses, and there was a real need for a new approach. In our respective careers, both Richard and I saw the confusion that can be created when an expert without the necessary subject matter expertise gets involved in a dispute. Since its inception, Martello Financial Services has been able to benefit from and build on the reputation of Blackrock Expert Services Group. Combined with a stable of professionals who are subject matter experts, it means Martello can make a real difference in assisting the court or tribunal to proceed with more efficiency. I believe we have established a unique business model which is something that lawyers and their clients are finding very beneficial.
In the context of disputes, what do you perceive as being the main challenges facing the Financial Services sector today, and how would you describe Martello Financial Services’ position in the industry?
Financial service products can be very complex. Courts and litigating clients need expert assistance to guide them through this complexity. The main challenge is therefore sourcing the right experts for each case with the greatest precision and accuracy. As well as finding the individual with the right expertise for the case, we need to have somebody who is capable of writing an independent report and who can then provide proficient oral testimony in Court, or at a tribunal, if required. Our focus at Martello Financial Services is about building a practice that stands for excellence in terms of the quality of our experts, the quality of their reports and the clarity of their testimony. It is imperative that our reputation for providing insightful, independent and objective advice for our clients is set at a very high level.
What has been a career highlight for you to date?
When I was at Goldman Sachs, a mechanism was developed by which a significant amount of extra money could be directed towards child vaccination programmes in emerging and undeveloped countries. The UK government and other European governments annually commit aid to emerging countries to help vaccinate children. Goldman Sachs was hired to see if the impact of that aid budget could be improved. Future donor commitments were frontloaded and securitised through a bond deal which raised US$ 1 billion. This meant that future vaccination programmes could be accelerated, paid for and distributed to children much sooner. This approach has been subsequently replicated a number of times and, today, 700 million children have been vaccinated for Polio, Tetanus, Malaria and Ebola who would otherwise not have been. Health experts calculate that this action has saved the lives of 13 million children. The organisation that was established to manage this financing is called the International Financing Facility for Immunisation (IFFIM). IFFIM now stands ready to support Covid-19 vaccination programmes when a vaccine becomes available. In the first world, we will be able to afford large scale vaccination programmes through our well-funded healthcare systems. But emerging countries will need assistance to ensure that everyone on the planet has access to the vaccination when it becomes available.