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Innovation is high on the government’s agenda. But how can companies invest in R&D given the current economic conditions? Establishing an innovative culture in your organisation is the key to success, says Barrie Dowsett.When it comes to innovative research and development, it is easy to picture a lab – one in which a large technology company is working on something amazing, like a robotic arm. You’re likely to think of pharmaceuticals as well, especially given that Ireland is renowned for its thriving medicine industry.But, actually, innovation is happening all around us.Research and development (R&D) is simply about seeking a scientific or technological advancement or overcoming a challenge that could not easily be solved by a professional in the field. From developing new products, services, or processes from scratch, to improving those which already exist, R&D is likely to occur in your business more often than you think.The state of R&D in IrelandThere has been a significant rise in the amount of investment in R&D from Irish businesses in recent years and that has coupled nicely with the fact that innovation is high on the government’s agenda.Recent data released by the Central Statistics Office show that the total expenditure on innovation projects in Ireland totalled almost €5.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 18.2% just two years prior. The main reason behind this leap is the 39.4% increase in expenditure for in-house R&D, totalling €3 billion in 2018 up from €2.2 billion in 2016.This information from CSO goes deeper too and shows that in 2018 the acquisition of machinery, software, and equipment represented 20.7% of the total spend at €1.1 billion. Embracing an innovative cultureAll businesses will approach R&D differently. Some have an innovative culture in place from the start. Others, however, take time to instil it. There are other variants to consider as well, like company structure, size, and ability to claim.Take size as an example. Businesses looking to create brand new products and services tend to be larger, more established, and better able to meet the demands of extensive market research and production. However, small- and medium-sized enterprises are more likely to work on improving existing products rather than creating new ones, as a development from scratch can be prohibitively expensive. Some companies will be able to set up their own R&D department, while others will outsource their efforts to gain the skills and knowledge required. Furthermore, with the effects of COVID-19 being acutely felt across the Irish economy, many companies simply feel unable to give R&D priority at the moment, with statistics showing that 85% of Irish businesses have scaled their operations back or even shut their doors entirely.R&D and the Irish economyHaving a well-defined and funded R&D strategy isn’t just about showing off amazing products, it’s also about staying ahead of the game. Marketplaces are becoming more competitive and companies are in direct competition with each other to offer something bigger and better to retain their customer base. Although investing in R&D often requires some generous financial outlay, the rewards can also be significant.Another big benefit of investment in R&D lies in the ability to claim R&D tax credits, with the government recognising the benefits it brings to the wider economy through job creation and growth. The incentive is lucrative too, covering up to 25% of R&D expenditure over and above the standard rate of 12.5%, meaning Irish companies can obtain as much as 37.5% of R&D costs back, either as a corporation tax reduction or as a cash lump sum. Creating or developing products and services, both for commercial purposes and within a company, can lead to great pay-offs. But innovation can’t happen without some element of risk, and for many companies meeting the costs involved can be daunting.However, there is a range of national and EU schemes available to help mitigate the costs in addition to R&D tax credits, like Enterprise Ireland funding supports, Horizon 2020, EUREKA Eurostars, and more. Whatever size and sector the company is in, a well-executed and funded R&D strategy is essential to survive and thrive.Barrie Dowsett is the CEO and owner of Myriad Associates.

Sep 04, 2020
Press release

The average salary package (including such elements as base salary, pension scheme, health insurance) for a Chartered Accountant in Leinster remains steady at €109,989, a marginal decrease from €112,582 last year. The survey of more than 1,000 Chartered Accountants, published today by Chartered Accountants Leinster Society in partnership with Barden, Ireland’s leading partner led expert recruitment firm, and in association with Coyne Research provides the most up-to-date guide to Chartered Accountant salaries and employment prospects in the Leinster region.While overall salary packages have remained steady for the majority, the survey, conducted during August, reveals some evidence of pay cuts among employees – just over 1 in 10 claim to have had their salary reduced as a result of COVID-19, over half of whom had their salary reduced by more than 10%. Almost 4 in 5 say they their employers have been “good” or “very good” in adapting to working from home arrangements. At the same time, many employees working from home have felt an increase in workload, with almost 1 in 2 reporting working longer hours than when they were office-based.  Overall, the resilience of the profession comes across among respondents, demonstrating the importance of a strong accountancy function in organisations at a time of such uncertainty. Only 18% of respondents are “quite” or “very” concerned about job security at the moment. The annual survey also highlights the importance of other types of remuneration to members. Over half of respondents (51%) say they had the ability to work from home before COVID-19, while 49% say they could avail of flexible working arrangements (including flexitime and time in lieu). 85% report having a pension scheme and, of those, employers contribute to 91% of them. Just over half receive health insurance as an employment benefit. Key findings include:84% of respondents place value on work / life balance or flexible working arrangements, and would sacrifice between 5% and 10% of their wages for a better work life balance or to have flexible working arrangements.  (86% in 2019.)56% of respondents say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their work / life balance. (62% in 2019.)82% of Chartered Accountants have received a salary increase within the last three years (85% in 2019), with 3 in 10 of members obtaining an increase of over 25%. 51% of respondents have been promoted in the last three years. (51% in 2019.)22% have moved to a new job in the last 12 months, on par with last year.  25% believe the market for Chartered Accountants is buoyant (85% in 2019). 36% believe the market is contracting (5% in 2019).  Commenting on the findings, Áine Crotty, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society, said: “The 2020 Leinster Society salary survey shows that pay remains consistent for Chartered Accountants in this unprecedented and challenging time. It is reassuring to see that many members are satisfied in how their employers shifted to remote working and flexible working arrangements, which is key as we head into the future and deal with the realities of COVID-19.“This survey gives employer firms, recruiters and those who may be considering a career in Chartered Accountancy a reliable insight into the profession. Chartered Accountants Ireland offers a range of flexible entry-routes into the profession so that students can work and learn in a way that best meets their individual needs, which is increasingly important in the current environment.”Elaine Brady, Managing Partner, Barden, said: “We are delighted to partner once again with the Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society annual salary survey. For us in Barden it’s absolutely critical for us to be able to provide our clients with cutting edge insights on reward so that they in turn can make informed strategic decisions on talent attraction and retention and managing their teams.“The insights gained from this survey, especially at this challenging and uncertain time for Irish business, will help to drive key decisions especially when it comes to businesses and their teams. It is very positive to see that in the main remuneration remains consistent, however at this stage it is difficult to see the true impact of this pandemic on Irish business. Another positive outcome of the survey is the excellent flexibility amongst employers, who in the main have been quick to adapt and facilitate their teams working remotely, which no doubt will shape the future of how we work.”Bernadette Coyne, Managing Director at Coyne Research, said: “This survey highlights the fact that the average pay has remained similar to last year’s survey, however we see some members having their pay cut since the onset of COVID-19. While most members say their company transitioned well to working from home arrangements, this has to be taken in the context of many having to work more hours at home than they would have in the office.” Where Chartered Accountants WorkThe survey highlights the wide range of industries and sectors that Chartered Accountants work in. Of the 15% of respondents employed in practice, 47% work in a Big 4 practice and 53% in a Non-Big 4 practice. 83% of those working in practice are in a Manager or Director role.The majority of those who do not work in practice are currently working in financial services at 25%. Respondents also work in IT & Telco (14%), Government and Public Sector / Education (9%), Construction and Property (7%), and many other sectors including manufacturing, not-for-profit / charities, food industry and more. Of those not employed in practice, 37% work for companies that are a subsidiary of a foreign-owned multinational compared to a private Irish company (28%) or the business unit of an Irish plc (12%). Most respondents surveyed work in Dublin (82%).  ENDS Notes to editorsThis survey of more than 1,000 Chartered Accountants was conducted by Coyne Research on behalf of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society and Barden between 12 August – 27 August 2020.  Chartered Accountants Leinster Society is a district society of Chartered Accountants Ireland, representing 13,586 Chartered Accountants throughout Leinster.  Barden is a partner led expert recruitment firm consumed with supporting companies that really know the value of their people. Barden’s expertise covers Accounting, Finance, Tax, Legal and Financial Services recruitment. Our people are trained/qualified in their specialist areas, and our approach is consultative not transactional. Barden has proudly partnered with the Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society, for the last 3 years, to bring you the annual salary survey. Over the next 3 years Barden will also be working closely with Chartered Accountants Student Society of Ireland (CASSI) to make sure their members get access to the right information, at the right time so when they qualify they can make the right decisions about their professional future.

Sep 10, 2020
Public Policy

Chartered Accountants Ireland has launched a Certificate in Customs and Trade to equip advisors and those working in business with the information and tools needed to navigate the new customs regime that Brexit will introduce in 2021. Negotiations between the EU and the UK on a future relationship will conclude as the transitional period ends on 31 December. Regardless of whether a trade agreement is reached, customs administration will be imposed on exporters and importers north and south and beyond these shores.  Engagement with members by Chartered Accountants Ireland has revealed a significant deficit in general awareness among its members and the wider business community of the skills and knowledge required to meet the legal and regulatory requirements of international trade, specifically trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland/Great Britain post-Brexit. In addition, half of businesses surveyed by the Institute reported significant concern about dealing with customs administration in the coming months.Commenting, Programme Lead Tony Buckley said, “We are critically short of expertise on the island of Ireland to manage this unprecedented change. Long-established trading relationships will need to be renegotiated, the costs of trade will inevitably rise, and supply chains will have to be critically re-appraised.  In practice, there are few businesses whose supply chains will not be affected, directly or indirectly, and all will need advice from professionals familiar with the complex new rules and procedures.”  The Certificate has been designed in line with the EU Customs Competency Framework and successful participants will reach Proficiency Level 2 (Trained) in the areas relevant to post-Brexit trading. This will enable them to offer customs advice, to support applicants for customs authorisations and permissions, and to develop plans and strategies for businesses facing Brexit-related challenges. The Level 9 qualification is awarded under the statutory authority of Chartered Accountants Ireland.  The initial programme commencing in October 2020 is fully subscribed and we are taking interest now for the next iteration, the dates of which will be confirmed.The syllabus will cover: New challenges resulting from BrexitTrading across borders – structure and operation of international tradeCustoms law, regulation and processesFulfilling regulatory requirements – documents, processes and permissionsManaging the supply chain – terms of trade, ensuring delivery, reducing riskCase studies of sectoral challenges and possible solutions. Commenting, Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “We are delighted to launch this much needed qualification. It has been in planning for some time now, and the process of syllabus design in partnership with stakeholders has been a comprehensive one.  It comes at a time when businesses right across the island of Ireland need access to expertise and reassurance on customs and trade issues that many have never had to even consider in their business lives to date. It is a qualification for a changing landscape and through it, Chartered Accountants Ireland wants to empower businesses to recover and succeed despite considerable challenge in the wider operating environment.” The programme will be delivered through four modules over eight weeks, with the first iteration commencing on 7 October 2020.  Each module is centred on one day of interactive live delivery via video-conferencing (face-to-face workshops may be added/substituted if circumstances permit).  Assessment will include multiple-choice assignments on each module and a final summative written assignment. For more information, see https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/professional-development/specialist-qualifications/certificate-in-customs-and-tradeTo express interest in the next upcoming iteration of the Certificate, please register your name and email address here. ENDS

Aug 24, 2020