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Latest News


Studies show that members of senior management are always 'switched on' for business and, unfortunately, don't feel they have the right to turn off. Is this to the detriment of not only themselves but also the business? Paul Stephens explains. Feeling the pressure at work is not a new phenomenon, but for some, advances in technology have exacerbated the issue. The ‘always on’ culture associated with mobile phones and digital media can make it difficult for people to find a healthy equilibrium between the two. ‘Always on’ culture Research from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, released last week during Mental Health Awareness Week, highlighted that 40% of all senior business leaders ‘do not switch off’, and one in three say that they never turn off their mobile phone. Those in senior financial roles reported a similar struggle to find a positive work-life balance. Two-fifths of Finance Directors and CFOs said that they feel their business requires them to be available at all times, and only a third turn off their phone in the evening or at weekends. However, those in the most senior roles were most intensely impacted, with 60% of Chief Executives and Managing Directors saying they were ‘always’ switched on for business. This continuous pressure can hurt both the individual and the business. A lack of downtime can increase stress levels, reduce effectiveness and have a negative effect on mood. Benefits for everyone Positively, there are signs that workplaces are taking note of the issue. Companies are promoting wellbeing by encouraging behaviours such as flexible working, leaving on time and taking regular breaks and holidays. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that employees at all levels receive support. According to our research, nearly a fifth of senior decision-makers say that wellbeing practices do not apply to them, and a further 13% said that they are only partially relevant. It is vital for the good of the person and the company that wellbeing and mental health initiatives are accessible to all staff, regardless of their seniority. Aside from reducing stress, ensuring that the workplace is a pleasant place to be can bring tangible benefits such as increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and a more committed workforce. Senior figures should lead by example. By working cohesively and ensuring workloads are shared, we can all improve work/life balance. Four things senior management can do to ensure a good work-life balance Keep meetings on time If a meeting is meant to start at 3pm and end at 5.30pm, stick to the agenda and work as efficiently as possible. Make sure everyone – including the most senior manager – is out of the office on time. Learn to delegate properly Be willing to trust the people you hired or work with to get the job done. Micromanaging is bad for office morale and even worse for time management. Insist on taking time off Schedule in the time you will be on holidays or unreachable and stick to it, regardless of what comes up, and respect when your staff want to take time off, too. Know that balance is different for everyone ‘Balance’ for one CEO can mean something different for another. If you don’t mind working 12 hour days but want to be free once you’re home and on the weekend, that’s OK. That’s your definition of balance. Take the time to think about what balance means for your life and how it would ideally work. Paul Stephens FCA, Dip Tax, Dip Corp Fin is the Head of Corporate and ABL at Close Brothers. *All figures unless otherwise stated are from a GMI survey conducted April 2019. The survey canvassed the opinion of 896 SME owners and business managers from several industries across the UK and Ireland on a range of issues affecting their businesses. The survey was commissioned by modern merchant banking group, Close Brothers.

May 19, 2019
Press release

Challenges facing audit & access to accountancy profession among priorities for new President representing 27,000 members in Ireland  Friday, 17th May 2019. Conall O’Halloran has been elected President of Chartered Accountants Ireland for 2019/2020 at its 131st Annual General Meeting in Dublin today. Addressing the Chartered Accountants Ireland AGM, Mr O’Halloran said his tenure as President would focus on the challenges facing the audit profession, both in Ireland and overseas, while working to broaden understanding of the wider role and value that Chartered Accountants bring to business and society. In addressing the challenges facing the audit profession, he said; “I have recently been looking to our nearest neighbour in the UK and reflecting on the fractured relationship with the regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, and with politicians. Many of the reforms recommended by Sir John Kingman’s recent independent review have now been accepted by the FRC and by the profession and politicians generally. However, the wider review by the Competition and Markets Authority and also the independent review into ‘The Quality and Effectiveness of Audit’ being conducted by Lord Brydon, will be fundamental to our future, and the future of business more broadly. “I think we need to be very careful here in Ireland that what works, and indeed what may be required to work in the UK, is not necessarily or automatically right for Ireland.  I will work very hard as President of Chartered Accountants Ireland to ensure good communication between the profession, politicians and regulators and ensure the very particular strengths that we have in Ireland are protected and nurtured.” Mr O’Halloran also highlighted that access to the profession at graduate level, facilitating more graduates to train in industry and the public sector, and non-graduate entry routes would be a priority in the year ahead.  “In Ireland we are currently very much a vocational profession where the majority of our graduates who train as Chartered Accountants come with a business qualification. This is quite different in other countries and I feel there is a win-win if we can demonstrate the value of being a Chartered Accountant to graduates from different disciplines with diverse skill sets and ways of thinking. “While flexible routes to becoming a Chartered Accountant have opened up opportunities for people in industry and the public sector, the training in business option has declined. When I look to some of Ireland’s corporates there is enormous opportunity in our large companies, particularly those with a global footprint, to train Chartered Accountants in-house. “The other thing we need to get right is our school leaver route. I think it inevitable that college fees for university education will be reintroduced at some stage and will make third level education inaccessible to even more people. So, while the school leaver route in Chartered Accountancy has become a thing of the past, I am pretty clear that it will become a thing of the future again and we need to be ready for it.” Mr O’Halloran, who takes over as President from Feargal McCormack, is Partner and recently served as Head of Audit Practice with KPMG, based in Dublin, from 2013 to 2019.  He was previously nominated by the Irish Government to the UK’s Financial Reporting Council’s Audit and Assurance Board and the Company Law Review Group, where he served for nine years. A graduate of UCC, Conall O’Halloran is married with four children and lives in Dublin. At today’s AGM, Paul Henry was elected Deputy President of Chartered Accountants Ireland. Pat O’Neill was elected Vice-President. Ends Reference:  Brendan O’Hora, Communications & Marketing Director, Chartered Accountants Ireland, 086 2432 428 / brendan.ohora@charteredaccountants.ie Karen Jones, Gibney Communications, 01 661 0402 / 086 866 4501 Note for Editors: Chartered Accountants Ireland represents 27,000 Chartered Accountants throughout the island of Ireland and in 93 countries around the globe. Founded in 1888, It is the largest, longest established and fastest growing professional accountancy body in Ireland.

May 17, 2019

As a fresh round of talks gets underway to break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland, Chartered Accountants Ireland and Chartered Accountants Ulster Society are reminding the political parties that among the rewards for success is the opportunity to reduce the tax burden on Northern Ireland business. Alan Gourley, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ireland’s NI Tax Committee said: “The 2015 Fresh Start Agreement included a firm commitment to the final stage of devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland and agreed upon a date (1 April 2018) and a rate (12.5%). “The trigger in the relevant legislation requires both the NI Executive to re-form and a clear demonstration to Treasury that Northern Ireland’s finances are on a sustainable footing. Once again, it’s over to Stormont.” Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, Richard Gillan commented: “Back in 2015 when the rate and date were agreed, the outcome of the EU referendum was an unknown quantity. It is now clear that Northern Ireland will be the UK region most severely impacted by Brexit. The economic opportunity originally presented by corporation tax devolution now takes on added importance. “A freshly constituted Northern Ireland Executive will face some tough decisions in critical areas such as health and education. These decisions may take time. But there is a quick win which should not be allowed to pass Northern Ireland by. Our message is clear – finish the job of devolving corporation tax and take away some of the impending pain of Brexit.”

May 09, 2019