Jacques Laffitte, a French banker and statesman of the first half of the 19th century, and one of the first patrons of the school, was nicknamed "The King of Bankers and the Banker of Kings". Amazingly, his career and destiny were due to a simple pin...
The young Laffitte came from a modest family of ten siblings. He first became an apprentice carpenter with his father at the age of twelve. Then, for two years, he was a third clerk with a notary in Bayonne, where at the age of fourteen, he started to work as an employee with a trader. Soon he moved to Paris and applied for a position as a bank clerk, without success. As he was leaving the premises through the courtyard, he saw a pin shining on the ground and bet down to pick it up. The banker, who was observing him through his office window, was touched by his gesture, and called him back. Young M. Laffitte was hired to keep the books. As he was gifted with a great capacity for work and a sharp mind, his career quickly took off, and eventually he became the owner of the bank.
As a regent of the Banque de France, a judge at the Commercial Court, and the president of the recently created Paris Chamber of Commerce, M. Jacques Laffitte also contributed to French political life by supporting Louis Philippe's rise to power.
It was on the premises of his bank, at the Hôtel des Fermes, that the first classes of the Ecole Spéciale de Commerce de Paris were held in 1819. From the very beginning, M. Laffitte was very active in the school’s development, and chaired its Conseil de Perfectionnement (“Board of Improvement”).
M. Laffitte’s name lives on in his heritage to the Yvelines region: the town of Maisons, located west of Paris, owns its urban infrastructure to him, and when in 1818 he bought its local Château, the town was rebaptized “Maisons-Laffitte”.