Articles

Careers Development

Welcome to those commencing the Chartered Accountancy qualification, we wish you the best of luck and that you enjoy the upcoming academic year/s.  The beginning of any course or undertaking can feel overwhelming and be daunting for the best of us and so I’d encourage you to be kind to yourself and if it helps to break it down into manageable chucks do so, for example focusing on the term to Christmas may be of help.  Yes there will be some reading over the break as well as festivities and get togethers but then think of the chuck from January to Easter and so on.  If we break down the job into more bite-size pieces, it can often reduce the sense of apprehension and in fact help with the planning of each term and year ahead. As a career coach working with newly to recently qualified members the recurring observation over the last few years has been a lack of awareness of what has been enjoyed or not enjoyed during the contract/training period.  I would encourage you to jot down as you go through this journey what you are feeling about the course, the work the study, what you are noticing about a particular client or sector or experience.  What do I mean by that? I’m referring to the awareness that you particularly enjoy a specific client or sector or environment, firstly notice that you enjoy it then secondly, ask yourself why-  why - why is important - why do I like this? is this team something I could work with in the future, is this sector of interest does it tie with my values and principles and beliefs and would I be proud to work for them? I appreciate in the midst of lectures and audits this may not be high on your list of priorities but trust me the time put into these observations can pay dividends in the long term when you are asked post qualification about what you love, where would you like to work next etc. This is where it will all click into place for you and you have the STAR examples to fall back on. Employers are consistently telling us that they’d like to see ‘commercially aware’ members so it’s not just the study, the qualification or the exams that are important.  There is a huge amount in terms of your overall understanding and appreciation of what’s happening in the world of work and in the  wider environment that could potentially impact on the business and sectors you are considering.  Networking, communicating and going to events (not just the social ones) but also the early morning or lunchtime talks that open up a new level of knowledge and understanding of the environment and business can prove invaluable.  A quote I read recently from someone stuck with me she said regardless of the experience or role she realises that ‘nothing (was) wasted’ this is now her motto and perhaps that applies to all of us in some shape or form.  While we may not immediately appreciate the value of the learning or work it may prove the element that gets us the role in 10-20 years’ time! We are here for you throughout your career and our supports are also here in the form of CA Support for times when you may feel that talking to the career coaching team is not quite enough, our colleagues in CA Support are here for you also every step of the way We wish you luck in your exciting journey ahead

Oct 15, 2019
Careers Development

The role of the internal auditor is becoming increasingly important for providing organisational oversight and assurance as well as strategic insights to help mitigate risk and to support organisational change and transformation. Internal Audit is well established as a distinct career path for Chartered Accountants and members specialising in this field currently enjoy a growing market for their sought-after skills. So how can a stint in IA benefit your career? …. Being an Internal Auditor often allows you to leverage the audit skillset you developed during your traineeship in practice although you only have one single organisation as your ‘client’ and this often delivers a sense of belonging and familiarity. You learn to identify real business risks – financial and operational – and to effect change and you get to see the results of your advice. If you want to make a difference to a business, and understand it from the inside out, a spell in internal audit provides a good opportunity. Indeed, the CVs of many senior finance and business leaders include a two/three-year period in internal audit somewhere along their career journey. Key elements of an IA career path can include: ➤ IA is often seen as a steppingstone into finance operations and the business within larger multinationals and corporates. In some companies, experience of internal audit is a ‘must’ for career development. Many plc’s offer secondments from internal audit into other business teams as part of the key talent development process. ➤ Personal development becomes a feature of an IA role with self-awareness, business acumen, effective communication, social awareness and conflict resolution skills among the qualities mentioned by business leaders as important when meeting stakeholders at all levels and when working with different nationalities and cultures. ➤ Travel can often be a feature of an IA position enabling you to understand different cultures and work practices first-hand. Internal audit provides the opportunity to develop and use language skills in a practical way. ➤ Financial & Operational  - Usually an IA professional’s remit will include operational and financial elements to the audits which lends a real world commercial dimension to the role where you get to understand your colleagues roles and build relationships across divisions as well as developing commercial acumen as you examine processes and ways of working. Typically, the Top 500 Employers in Ireland (per the Irish Times 1000 list) is where you will find most Internal Audit teams (Financial services sector and Industry). Equally, Big 4 and Top 10 practices maintain a strong demand for high calibre additions to their Internal Audit Service offerings to clients. Contact Dave Riordan (ACA) 01 6377251 for further information on Internal Audit as your ACA Career Pathway.     

Sep 26, 2019
Careers Development

The programme manager on my master’s programme reminded me recently how important the ‘down’ time is and how beneficial it is to support long term study and focus. As we are coming towards the end of summer time (albeit having experienced rain, wind, storms and some sun) and begin to consider another term and year of study and education it is important to place an emphasis now on ‘self-care’ and serious rest and relaxation. What does that mean for you? Self-care comes back to minding yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally.  As our worlds get busier and expectations on us grow and becoming increasingly demanding reminding yourself that your health is your wealth can help to set you up for a mentally and physically strong 2019/2020 academic year. Physically Take a break from work, home, commute, routine, etc. Any or all of the above help to break the cycle of what you’ve considered routine throughout the year.  If you haven’t had a chance to holiday or get away even changing the commute route can be a breath of fresh air. If you walk or cycle get a bus, if you bus it normally perhaps get off a stop earlier and wander through town or through a different route. Often it can be the little changes that make a difference more or different activity can offer us opportunities for exercise or walking where we might not have normally taken it. Combined with healthy eating can make a huge difference or if you’ve become bored with your diet and food choices - make new ones! Enjoy your food again and remind yourself of what you loved growing up - it’s okay to make it interesting and fun again – the only one concerned about it should be you. Mentally Change the radio or podcast for a week or so from your normal sound track to shake up your commute.  If you regularly listen to debate or news on the radio, swap it for a feel good exercise track, a funny podcast or classical music  - try it and see what new ideas or thoughts come to mind.  If you take lunch with the same crowd and find the conversation becoming repetitive or realise that you don’t always feel upbeat after it then perhaps shake it up, try somewhere new with someone new and change that conversation.  There are lots of lunchtime gigs for example National Gallery tours or National Concert Hall or talks on Eventbrite that you could tune into.   Emotionally Caring about work, our colleagues, our organisations, our families our friends and loved ones can all take its toll.   Often you don’t realise it has until something small has the knack of totally grounding us or stopping us in our tracks.  If you feel overwhelmed or stressed or emotional, take time out for you, mute the What’s App group chat, switch off notifications, try to avoid checking mails or calls from home and really begin to value you and to notice times and triggers for emotional upheaval. If your organisation has an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) use it! It’s anonymous - your organisation doesn’t know who has used it - only that it is being paid for monthly so to know that employees are benefiting from it is what they want to hear.   Remind yourself of your ‘circle of influence’ the areas that you can influence in your life but more importantly the areas that your stress and mental toll has absolutely no influence at all on and try to bring it back to those it can.  ‘Where your mind goes, so to does your energy’ – use it wisely. I hope that you can take some tips from this piece, we can hear the same message and feel it’s a pie in the sky notion until it actually means something so take things day by day to strengthen your resolve and to set you up for another academic year of focus, fun and fitness (physically, mentally and emotionally) The Institute through its many services is here to support you to realise your true potential – the best of luck with it all. Ciara Tallon is a Career Coach and Recruitment Specialist with Chartered Accountants Ireland, working with newly qualified members.

Aug 21, 2019
Careers Development

It has become an annual mantra from members that they believe finance vacancies wane over the summer months. We usually find the opposite happens and this year is nothing different. Within the last few weeks we have experienced a significant increase in roles - this is good news! These have been a mix of permanent and contract positions for reasons including maternity leave, internal promotion and secondment to various projects.  Employers for their part are more open minded in terms of where candidates are coming from but still seek drive, passion, energy, enthusiasm and an interest in the company and sector. Aligned with that however, they are testing the basic accountancy skills and knowledge of standards application for example IFRS 15 or IFRS 16. This may all appear to be straightforward but what does appear to be the case is that candidates in the midst of a 'candidate market' let themselves down and potentially miss out on exciting roles by failing to prepare for interview or by insufficiently selling their skills and unique experiences. By expecting higher salaries and better benefits packages coupled with a strong work/life blend, candidates need to be able to demonstrate that they (in the words of L'Oreal) 'are worth it'. It's one thing to have a commercial mindset with excellent business acumen as well as being fortunate enough to lead a team through the good times it's another to have accountancy and leadership skills challenged successful through a competency based interview, that is what is expected in these competitive times so brushing up on IFRS is time well spent. While candidates may be able to pick and choose their ideal roles, employers can help themselves by streamlining their selection and interview processes. If you go out to the market and hire directly your business reputation and profile in the market can be seriously damaged by tardy response times, or no response at all to those who have applied for your role, there is no excuse in this day and age to not responding in a timely fashion to every applicant who has applied for a role that you yourself have advertised (ad-hoc speculative applications are another thing) so before you start the process ensure sufficient back office support. Similarly if you use the services of recruiters or agencies be mindful that they are working on your behalf and your brand. The need for speed in turnaround time from receipt of CVs to acknowledgement to interview set up is vital if you are to keep the good candidates interested. With holidays if the hiring manager is on leave perhaps HR can do screening calls to keep the process moving, set expectations and timelines with agencies and candidates alike, when people know what the timeline is they are much better able to cope - silence is not golden and can ultimately backfire on costly recruitment campaigns. The Career & Recruitment Team is here to support all members who are considering their career path as well as employers seeking to find the best Chartered Accountants in the market. Talk to us today in confidence 01 6377322.

Jul 18, 2019
Careers Development

This is an article written by Karin Lanigan, Manager of the Career Development and Recruitment Service highlighting the benefits of the Chartered Accountancy qualification. If you are juggling study and work then a timely reminder of the rewards and benefits that await your qualification might give you that much needed boost!! Rewards on Qualification? Now more than ever employers are seeking quality finance professionals for their organisations. The Chartered Accountancy Qualification certainly will provide you with exposure to an extensive range of job and career opportunities even in the current environment. In my role as Careers Advisory & Recruitment Executive with Chartered Accountants Ireland I am well placed to see the wide range of exciting opportunities that are currently available for Chartered Accountants. I am contacted on a daily basis by organisations in practice, industry and financial services, here in Ireland and internationally specifically seeking Chartered Accountants for opportunities at all levels. Positive Market Conditions The training you receive to become a Chartered Accountant is well recognised and respected by employers on a global level. It provides you with the foundation from which you can further develop your career in practice, industry and financial services. The demand in the market for qualified Chartered Accountants has been steadily improving over the last 12 – 18 months. The market within the area of practice and professional services has improved significantly with many of the larger firms actively recruiting. Also many smaller firms are experiencing an increase in their pipeline of assignments and as a result have also come into the market for additional talent. Earning Potential Salary levels for accountants have remained attractive and have been robust in the midst of downward pressures on salaries in general. The market rate for a newly qualified accountant is in the region of 50-55k€ depending on experience and location and a number of other variables. This has remained steady in recent years. Should the demand for recently qualified accountants continue to grow, and I would expect that it will, these salary levels will move upwards. Within 2 – 3 years of qualification you can expect your salary to have increased to a level of 60 – 65k€ depending on the experience you gain. Therefore you can see that there is a definite return on your investment of time and effort in obtaining the chartered accountancy qualification. Business Opportunities If you decide that you would like to diversify from the area of practice upon qualification, as in excess of 60% of our members do, there is a myriad of choice out in the market. A typical route for a recently qualified Chartered Accountant would be to obtain a role as a Financial Accountant within industry. A role of this nature will provide broad exposure to the day to day running of a finance function and will act as a platform from which to advance your career even further. Many members choose this route with the role of Financial Controller or Finance Director being their target. Ultimately it can even lead on to roles such as CFO or Chief Executive. New Developments One area in particular where there has been a significant increase in demand is for chartered accountants with strong analysis and interpretation skills for roles such as Finance or Business Analysts. These positions have a very strong business and commercial dimension to them and allow you to work at the leading edge of the decision making and strategy process for a business. There are currently excellent career development opportunities in this area as many corporates move towards a business partnering model in their finance functions globally. Financial Services Financial services and banking is another sector which offers excellent career opportunities and rewards for accountants. You can opt for more mainstream financial accounting roles or if you wish to specialise you can also do so by considering areas such are fund accounting, insurance, corporate finance, corporate governance and compliance. The area of compliance and corporate governance in particular has experienced strong growth levels in recent years and this set to continue with increased regulation. Your International Passport The Irish Chartered Accountancy qualification is very well respected on a global level including in the UK, Australia, Bermuda and New Zealand. Irish Chartered Accountants can expect that the qualification will open the door to many opportunities abroad also. If you are interested in global mobility the Chartered Accountancy qualification is your ticket to success. Many of my corporate clients with international offices specifically look for Irish Chartered Accountants for key roles in these operations. Overview Ultimately armed with the Chartered Accountancy qualification you are in a position to map out your career direction and progression. With strategic planning, a strong work ethic and a positive mental attitude you can go far. Careers Advisory Service A distinguishing feature of the service you receive from Chartered Accountants Ireland when you qualify and become a member is a bespoke in-house careers advisory service. For further details in relation to the confidential and impartial career support services on offer click on the link below.  These services are available to all members from newly qualified to retirees and beyond and we look forward to supporting you throughout the course of your qualification and you can contact the team on careers@charteredaccountants.ie we support the work of the Young Professionals Committee which runs topical and fun events for ACAs so if you’d like to get to know the events https://bit.ly/2hfU9J4 or attend the upcoming ‘The Art of Executive Presence for Young Professionals’ please register your interest https://bit.ly/2GX8AML .  

May 08, 2019
Careers Development

“Financial Analyst /Exciting project role” If there was a response that I hear most often from newly qualified members when I ask them what role they would like as they qualify it is that of “Financial Analyst “ or an “Exciting Project Role”. And the role that I least see from employers is the financial analyst or exciting project role, that’s not to say that they aren’t out there, but not in the volume that candidates expect them to be. What we see nine times out of ten are financial accountant roles particularly at the newly qualified level in really interesting SME’s or dynamic Plc’s. So what are the options? Firstly it’s about playing the end game: what do I want to achieve where do I see myself what’s my time frame what are my skills and strengths what skills do I want to utilise what am I missing (identify the gap) Then spend some time reviewing the market, and try to identify a few things: who is hiring – what sector are they in what roles are they looking to fill how often are you seeing this role advertised (look out for high turnover) what roles do you not see advertised what skills are they looking for from potential candidates What does it all mean?  Being informed as to what the market is offering helps when planning your career strategy but it can also help to manage expectations in terms of how realistic that is. You may find that there is a mismatch between what you think should be available and what the reality is.  So what do you do when the role you want isn’t available, do you sit tight and hope that it comes along within a certain time frame or can you create the role for yourself? In order to help the process it can often be helpful to identify the organisation or sector that you’d like to work in or at least gain some experience in. After that, keep an eye on that company, is there potential to use it as a stepping stone to the dream job? For example if there is a financial accountant role can you use that to get a foot in the door, gain organisational experience and identify where you can grow and develop a foothold in the planning and analysis area that you want to be in?  Likewise you may see half accounting/half analysis roles; these are worth considering particularly as you start out on your career and will benefit from as much broad experience as possible. The key to success is being open to opportunities and new experiences, there are lots of them out there for ambitious Chartered Accountants – enjoy the journey!

Mar 06, 2019
Careers Development

Future proof your career. Now that the days are looking slightly longer, you may be inspired to look at a fresh year with fresh eyes.  So how can you put your best foot forward and keep that spring in your step for 2019? Here are some suggestions that might give you some inspiration: Focus - focus on the tasks ahead in your role, be that accounts prep, audit or tax work.  Pay attention to the task and become aware of the skills you are learning and strengths you are developing with each new task.  Capture each new skill in your CA diary to build up a true appreciation for the learning curve you are on and to compare where you were on day one versus day 300, 600, or 900 etc., Self-awareness - Often when I ask newly qualified members what they enjoy about their roles they haven’t given it any thought.  Why not make 2019 the year to heighten your own level of self-awareness and pay attention to the tasks that you do, ask yourself: What drives me? What motivates me? What challenges me? What stimulates me? What frustrates me? What excites me? And then ask after each one – Why? Why do I feel driven in that specific task, why does that task stimulate me etc.? But also what – what about that frustrates me, what about this interests me? With this level of self-awareness you begin to form a clearer picture of the kind of career person you are.  Using these questions you may begin to form an outline for your dream role or ideal work environment, wouldn’t it be great before you have even qualified to have spent time on your own personal development and awareness which ultimately may help your decision making skills further down the career path. I am not suggesting that the track you are on now, the role or the firm you are in now is not the right one for you.  That is most definitely not the case, these questions are designed to help you to develop your own thinking and what is right for you - not your peers or colleagues.  The more confident, self-aware and comfortable with your own choices that you are the more valuable an employee you can be to your organisation – this exercise shouldn't be something to fear. Values - an exercise we work on when coaching is to start to develop a list of our Career Values. By that I mean what each of us values in our work and career for example: reward & recognition may be a value of yours, rapid progression may be a value, the ease of commute, or perhaps you value a high salary or opportunities for travel etc. A value is personal to you, it is an honest reflection of what matters to you and can be incredibly powerful when working towards your ideal or dream job.  It is also flexible and so today you might value salary and prestige, a few years down the line you might value work/life blend and reduced working hours etc. the core of this exercise is the more honest you are with yourself the better it reflects you and where you are at in your life.  Regardless of what stage you are at, start now to identify the values that make you as a person and at any stage in your career stop and check in to see how aligned it is with your career values. Voice - Anyone involved in sales or marketing will understand the concept of the 'elevator pitch', it is never too early to work and develop your own 'pitch'.  This enables you to articulate who you are, what your role is and what you do in that role – I regularly meet highly competent members who cannot articulate what it is they do.  This is a basic skill and one that you can start to work on and practice at any stage of your contract - write it down and when you are happy with it on paper practice saying it to a mirror - it sounds funny but better to fluff your lines to the mirror or pet pooch than someone that you might be looking to impress further down the line. Educate yourself - yes you are studying and regularly attending lectures, case studies and exams but aside from that, read journals online, papers, listen to podcasts, listen to business-shows on the radio - keep up with what is going on around you at all times.  You never know when a piece of information may be of use or may be the difference between you getting a promotion or not; securing your ideal job or just helping you to hold a conversation at a networking event.  It also helps to put context on how your career is shaping up, pay attention to new language used, new roles being created, old roles becoming obsolete, new technologies, new business figures, new concepts - all of the little things together will help you in your career. Future proof – What’s happening in the world of technology that will impact how you work and your career? Are you familiar with and do you understand the terms and language that is out there and becoming part of everyday vocabulary.  What do you know about Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Bias, UX, CX etc.  How will your future-proof your career to ensure that you are one step ahead as changes come down the track? Read tech magazines, follow them online, and look at who the Pendulums and Web Summits invite to speak.  Come along to Young Professionals events where they cover the most up to date topics and career impacting technologies for ACAs.  By paying attention to all of these things you can ensure you are giving your career the best possible support. I hope that some if not all of this resonates with you and encourages you to approach 2019 with a positive & excited attitude!   Ciara Tallon is a Career Coach & Recruitment Specialist with Chartered Accountants Ireland and works with all newly qualified members to help with CV preparation, career advice and guidance on long term career planning. Contact Ciara on 01-6377 322 or email ciara.tallon@charteredaccountants.ie

Feb 06, 2019
Careers Development

January the beginning of a fresh new year with hopes, goals, aspirations and resolutions.  Often that spills over from personal into professional life and it's an opportunity to reflect on how the previous year has been but also a good time to put some structure on the coming year. Regardless of where you are in your studies you may find you are being stretched in your efforts to manage a busy audit season, or perhaps year end or even just to complete study and exam prep along with managing life and all of the things that can be thrown  at you. Historically the phrase work-life balance has been bandied about as though it was something we should all strive for - however, one size does not fit all and so we now know that everyone's 'balance' can be different and can differ at various  career stages. This 'balance' is being replaced with a more personalised concept of 'blend' so whatever the work and life blend you choose the key is that it is healthy and manageable for you. Furthermore in creating this blend, traditionally we talk about well-being and resilience to last the distance.  Career coaches, hr practitioners and even individuals have developed this concept further and have found that too much resilience isn't necessarily a good thing. In a 2017 Harvard Business review study on resilience the writers look at the potential negative side of our increasing resilience.  Showing up every Monday morning in dark winter months to do a role you know isn't for life but is just for now is admirable and indeed a trait that is necessary at many stages in life and career.  However, when every day feels like a cold wet windy Monday morning, and where the work is neither stimulating nor challenging your resilience could in fact be holding you back from moving on to something more exciting and positive in your life. Conversely you may find that each day is too challenging, that each decision is too demanding, that requests are bordering on unethical or immoral or the hours of work are dangerously high - resilience is not your best friend here.  The article goes on to highlight the blinding nature of pushing on and ignoring the warning signs not just for yourself but possibly also for your team - not reading the signs or expecting too much are not good leaderships traits . So what can you do? Begin to monitor your work, your energy, your health and your downtime, if you feel that any of them are suffering begin an audit of what can change, even the smallest tweaks such as cycling into work can mean you get some exercise, head space and still get in on time.  Perhaps you haven't had a Saturday off in months, is there an opportunity to do something about that, even a conversation with your manager to confirm an end point for constant weekend work can in itself be a light relief.  Reflect on what it is that you need to do to ensure that your long term health, positive mental health and well-being are maintained. A shift from dogged resilience to well-being and self-care can in the long run last the pace and can ensure that you enjoy the journey and view it as a marathon with the odd sprint thrown in - it's where the entire journey mirrors a sprint is where your perseverance can take a bashing. Far from the days of chin up and put your best face forward, we are increasingly reminded that the ‘always on’ mentality and environment in which today’s generation exists should be managed with care rather than become something to be endured.  Long term this mindful approach to self-care will pay dividends that far outweigh salaries or status. Ciara Tallon Career Coach & Recruitment Specialist 01 6377322

Jan 16, 2019
Careers Development

Current Market Summary & Effective Networking : Many of you reading this will be newly qualified ACA’s in 2019.  Upon qualification 10 years ago I didn’t realise all the different and exciting options and avenues that are open to a fully qualified Chartered Accountant. You have been focusing on exams for several years now and are at a crossroads where it may be time to raise your head and take stock of your options deciding where you want all this hard work to lead.   The good news is that there are literally dozens of avenues and directions you can take your upcoming ACA qualification in. You will soon be in possession of a prestigious Irish business qualification. Start exploring your options early and clarify where you want to go. Overview of the current market in Ireland for newly qualified ACA’s :  Brexit has been a good influence so far particularly on FS opportunities and all going well in the decision months ahead that should stay positive for Ireland. Regional recruitment has been good in each of the provinces. In particular Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast have shown the best recovery.  Dublin is still outperforming the others in terms of number and variety of opportunities but the other counties are certainly not far behind. Roles that are currently in vogue include statutory and analytical positions and if you are making your first move out of practice the type of organisation you join will likely align with your current client base and whether you audit banks, PLC’s, SME’s or funds for example.  Currently the buoyant sectors are typically Pharma, Technology, Fin Tech, Food, FMCG, Hospitality, Not for profit, Construction.  You may also find the www.careersportal.ie website useful as you review your options.  In the longer term view, Networking is an essential activity for career success!  It's the weekly gym routine that strengthens your long term Career marathon performance. The strongest networkers are typically those that are passionate about their chosen career path.  Once you have an idea of the direction of your career now you can start networking effectively in that space. It's never too early to start. Ireland has always been associated with warm connections and introductions and 3° degrees of separation. It’s essential you don't leave it too late though!  The more senior you become the more reliant you are on your personal network.  Use your Institute -  the Young Professionals, District Societies, CPD courses. Young ACA’s are playing key roles in the Junior Chamber of Commerce Ireland with amazing events and speakers. Be active in your clubs, hobbies, sports networks, charities, and make sure people know what you do professionally! If you value a particular persons experience and advice why not ask them to be your Mentor ?  The Institute also offer a Career Mentor Service and we too can connect you with a mentor once qualified.  Social Media has its place in good networking and just a quick mention that it is essential that you have your LinkedIn profile up to date. Use keywords in your details, join relevant LinkedIn groups, connect to your peers via polite introduction messages and build that online network. Ciara Tallon and I are very much looking forward to partnering with you as you move through each step in your Career Pathway in the years ahead and don’t hesitate to connect with us in 2019!   Dave Riordan (ACA)  Recruitment Specialist  & Career Coach 01-6377251 / 0879674285

Dec 07, 2018
Business law

Orla McGahan writes: 1. Join a network “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” There are 1,730 Chartered firms in practice in Ireland. Of that, around 950 are sole practitioners; and yet, there are only 40 listed networks. Even with an average of ten members per network, there are a lot of people out there going it alone. Don’t isolate yourself. The benefits of being part of a network are copious: A case study group – for those times when a case needs to be talked out.  A forum to benchmark – to benchmark fees, charge out rates, overheads, staff salaries, and so on, can be invaluable. Consider joining a network outside your geographical or competitive area if necessary.  Knowledge sharing – share experiences on dealing with Revenue, CRO and other areas. For that moment when you are just having a blank, being able to run it by a trusted colleague. Referrals – often within a network various members specialise in varying fields, industries or disciplines. This can lead to additional work through referrals. CPD and training – organising training by network offers more flexibility to custom make the course, attendees, and location, while gaining cost reductions. 2. Don’t underestimate the value of your work I was lucky enough to be shown early in my practice life (by a client!) that the value of your work is not the time it took to put together the relevant documents and submit them to the appropriate authority. But rather, and more importantly, your fee should reflect the time, effort, knowledge and experience you have gained over the years which gives you the technical and practical knowhow. For a lot of practitioners, our work revolves around solving problems or doing work our clients do not have the time, knowledge, skill or experience to do. Make sure the price you put on your work adequately reflects value to both you and your client. 3. Stock control - record your time How often do we criticize clients for inadequate stock control and yet how many of us, particularly partners, do not record our time? We sell time. Fact. And yet quite often we have no control over it. There are many good CRM packages available to practitioners offering time recording systems with simple reporting facilities. Invest in one and use it. It will pay for itself, and then some. Find the discipline to record your time, every day. 4. Organise your time and stick to it! As the saying goes – “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If I were to pick one thing that will make a difference, it’s time management. This is crucial to creating and maintaining an easy (easier) practice life. Plan, systemise where possible, and stay on top of The annual return and compliance review - do this when it comes in or as it falls due; Anti-money laundering compliance; Engagement letters; Practice housekeeping – A Chartered Accountant I know, who runs a very successful practice, has developed the habit of spending the first hour of his day, every day, without fail, to practice housekeeping. And his success is testament that it works; CPD and your CPD record; Staff mentoring records. 5. Embrace technology and update your software regularly Efficiencies leading to higher profitability and better cash-flow can be achieved with regular investment in software and technology. Incorporate this cost as an ongoing overhead. 6. Value your staff I’m sure this is not the first time you have been told this, but your staff are your most valuable asset. “We are only ever as good as the people around us”. Invest in your staff. The cost of losing an experienced staff member goes far beyond the financial cost. Added to that, a new staff member will take at least six months to become comfortable and familiar with the position. The cost of this should never be underestimated. Invest in training, talk to your staff openly and regularly (maybe over a nice lunch) about the things that make a difference to their enjoyment of the position, and it’s not always about salary. Particularly in the current environment, taking care of your staff should be a high priority. 7. Self-care In the words of Stephen Covey (The 7 habits of highly effective people) – “sharpen the saw”. Take care of yourself, your health, your mental health and your private life. As a practitioner, the pressure to develop, to stay up to date technically, meet deadlines, manage staff, and still live your life can sometimes be overwhelming, not to mention managing the expectations of clients. We carry a huge responsibility. So take time out regularly and routinely to take care of yourself. 8. Get involved in your Institute For some members “The Institute” may seem like an anonymous entity from which they can feel somewhat disconnected. But the Institute has many more facets than members realise and offers many valuable services. In addition to the staff, many member volunteers are lobbying and working away for the interests of its members. Volunteers are always required in many areas. The benefit of involvement and having an active role is that you can help shape and change the world in which you work, influence policy and changes in legislation, education, membership and many other areas. And as an added bonus, involvement gives you a sense of belonging to the Institute of which you are a member. 9. Agree fees upfront and in writing When you make this routine a habit, it is second only to time recording in revolutionising your practice, your fee recovery and your cash flow. It focuses your mind in identifying exactly what service is required, what the client is willing to pay for that service, and the timing of when you will get paid. It opens the doors for a discussion on what work the client wants done, and identify any work they are willing to do themselves. Make a list of the steps involved in the work and use this as a template to assist in the conversation. The benefit is that it saves a lot of stress and bad feeling when you think you’ve done a great job only to find that the client does not appreciate it and is unwilling to pay for it. Orla McGahan is the principal of McGahan and Co, and is a member of the Members in Practice Committee of Chartered Accountants Ireland.  

Dec 01, 2018
Careers Development

Congratulations! As a guidance counsellor in school used to say – every day is the beginning of the rest of your life, at the time I didn’t appreciate what she meant but now see that yes every day has the potential to be the start of a journey. About now you may be either starting your Chartered Accountancy journey and have the next three to four years of experience, study and development ahead of you with all of the exciting opportunities and challenges that it brings or indeed returning for another year of education within the Institute.   The Career Development & Recruitment Service is available to all qualified members but will be supporting you throughout your journey.  Regardless of where you are in your journey, here are some suggestions on how to maximise your success in the year ahead: Get as much experience as possible – not just in your chosen field but outside the box too Volunteer for as many projects or secondments as you can take on Begin to look at your peers not just as colleagues and classmates but your future network When you are doing something that you love and enjoy – make a note of it Maintain your Chartered Accountants diary on a regular basis – keep it up to date Try to balance your work, study and hobbies – easier said than done but vital long term If you have just realised that what you are doing isn’t for you – take action Can you move – ask your partner/manager Can you be seconded elsewhere for a chance to get exposure to other elements If neither is an option research the roles are out there in the marketplace Can this experience but used as a stepping stone to something else Is there an element of what you are currently committed to that you can do differently Identify a mentor at whatever stage you are at – always have the future in mind Try to carve out a unique selling point for yourself – it’s okay to stand out from the crowd On a regular basis tap in to see what’s happening in the market - stay relevant Read business updates, journals and generally stay aware of the movers and shakers in business Where you are attracted to a particular sector - keep a list of company names within that sector Attend networking events such as CASSI & Young Professionals or join their committees Use all of the services available to you in the Institute As with any suggestions or recommendations they are there as guidelines and as a framework to help you construct your own career plan.  There is more support on hand at : https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/professional-development/Career-Development/Careers-Advisory We wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.  Ciara Tallon, is a Career Coach & Recruitment Specialist with the Career Development & Recruitment Service of Chartered Accountants Ireland.    

Oct 17, 2018
Careers Development

As part of developing the career pathway framework, Karin Lanigan, Manager of our Career Development & Recruitment Service, conducted research into our members' careers.  Engaging with a representative sample of our 26,000 members, the focus groups were made up of members from each of the 4 career stages ( Newly qualified, Developing, Expert and C-Suite) to ensure that we incorporated all the key skill requirements. Many 'pearls of wisdom' and essential career tips were revealed. "I would like to share these insights with you as I believe they are invaluable" Karin Lanigan, Top tips at a glance: Have a career plan and define what success looks like for you Soft- skills will be the differentiator Good is good enough Your career begins at the end of your comfort zone Maintain a focus on personal and professional development Broaden your experience and seek exposure to senior level stakeholders Develop your network and promote an authentic personal brand Look to gain people and project management skills and experience Listening skills are crucial. Seek and act on feedback Find a mentor Embrace technology Don't become too busy and maintain a focus on your well being For more detail and advice please read on: 1. Have a career plan Members expressed the view that investing time in the preparation and management of a career plan will reap rewards in terms of your career development and job satisfaction. The advice was to start by asking yourself the question ‘How much time do you spend planning your career?’ Often we spend more time planning other aspects of our lives such as a holiday than we do planning our career. You owe it to yourself to take time out for professional and personal development. Treat your career like a project and set out a plan and specific time based goals. Review your progress and constantly track it against the initial plan. Assuming ownership of and responsibility for your career is a critical success factor as it empowers you and puts you firmly in control of your own career pathway. Define Success Members were mindful that you need to have clarity in relation to how YOU define success. Success means different things to different people. Just because you aren’t or don’t want to be a CFO or CEO doesn’t mean that you are not a success. Members suggested that you reflect on what you want to achieve in your career and what it is that motivates you and provides you with career satisfaction. Aligning your career-path to your personal values is really important and this was supported by the feedback we received from members at every level of seniority. 2. Soft-skills will be the differentiator Our focus groups all agreed that as your career progresses it will be the proficiency of your soft-skills that will determine your career trajectory as opposed to your technical skills. What we mean by the term soft-skills is your personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously. You will reach a stage in your career where your technical knowledge and capabilities will be taken as a given and what will really determine your career success will be skills associated with leadership such as communication, collaboration, coaching and developing others, building strong connections and networks, to mention but a few. Recommended courses: Course Date Location Speaker Cost Assertive Communication 25-Oct CA House Fiona Flynn €240 Influencing & Negotations Skills for the Workplace 20-Nov CA House Fiona Buckley €240 Personality Types- understanding yourselves & others in the workplace 06-Dec CA House Fiona Buckley €240 3. Good is good enough Members advised that you should try to let go of your perfectionist tendencies as they will not always serve you well as you advance in your career. There are times when getting a job completed well but not to absolute precision is a better use of your time than trying to reach perfection and wasting time that would actually be better spent on other more value add areas that are career enhancing too. I appreciate that this can be a challenge but the key question to ask of yourself is ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ Recommended course: Course Date Location Speaker Cost Effective Prioritisation and Time Management 11-Dec CA House Úna Mc Devitt €240 4. Your career begins at the end of your comfort zone Members all agreed that a critical factor in determining your career development is the extent to which you are prepared and willing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. How willing are you to take on new challenges and to work through that feeling of fear when you are trying something new? If this apprehension is not managed it will prevent you from doing things that are career enhancing. It is a case of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. To achieve career success you firstly need to recognise these feelings of fear, then rationalise and manage them. Be courageous and forge ahead regardless. The members I spoke with during the focus groups experienced this roller-coaster of emotions on a regular basis but their overriding advice was to take the opportunities that are presented to you as you may come to regret it otherwise. 5. Maintain a focus on personal development Lifelong learning is a key component of a successful career plan. As the world around you evolves quickly you have to stay relevant. A key way in which to achieve this is to be curious and keen to learn on a continuous basis. Personal and professional development doesn’t need to comprise of just attending courses it should also include such activities as seeking a mentor or a coach. Similarly you can add to your learning by viewing videos and reading articles on-line. The resources that members mentioned included Accountancy Ireland, You Tube videos and The Economist. 6. Broaden your experience During the focus groups members unanimously expressed the view that as your career progresses you should look to gain exposure outside of a pure finance role. Obtaining cross-functional experience will enable you to move into more senior operational and management level roles. An understanding of the commercial and operational aspects of an organisation can be a career differentiator. Similarly honing your negotiation capabilities can also give you the edge when seeking career advancement particularly in a more strategic role and at C-suite level. Obtain exposure to senior level stakeholders Members agreed that delivering results is a given but what will really accelerate your career progression is ensuring that the key decision makers are aware of the results you are delivering and the impact that you are having on the business. Therefore it is often your visibility rather than your ability that will determine your career success. A proactive approach is required to ensure that the decision makers within the organisation are aware of your capabilities and your career ambitions. 7. Develop your network As your career progresses, you will become more reliant on your network to obtain leads in relation to potential career moves and also to gain access to a wealth of advice and information. The key message from the focus groups was not to leave growing your network to chance. Instead approach it in a strategic way and invest time in developing a network that will support your career. The consensus within the focus groups was that attending Chartered Accountants Ireland events and courses provides a platform for growing your network. Similarly your network should not be restricted to finance professional and you should take a broader view. Promote an authentic personal brand Closely aligned to networking is the process of developing and promoting your brand. The focus groups believed that authenticity and reflecting your true self impacts positively on your profile and career path. In other words play to your strengths and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Visibility was again determined to be crucial as key decision makers need to be aware of your brand. 8. Look to gain project management skills and experience Members agreed that increasingly employers are looking to Chartered Accountants to manage pivotal projects. A finance skill-set incorporates well into a project management environment. It enables you to add real value whilst also providing you with the potential to develop a new range of competencies. It is also the ideal opportunity to gain exposure outside the finance function which can prove important when advancing your career. Working in the area of project management will also give you visibility of other areas of the organisation and improve your overall commercial knowledge.  People management skills are important As your career progresses, you will become more reliant on a team and others around you. Your ability to recruit, retain and develop a team will influence your career path. The focus groups firmly believed that developing your capability and impact in the area of people management is important in terms of career development. You will need to have the ability to motivate and influence others and to gain their support and buy-in. An awareness of your management style and the impact it has on others will help to determine your career trajectory. 9. Listen skills are crucial In a busy world full of distractions it can be difficult to take the time to really listen. However, the members participating in the focus groups felt that advanced listening skills were an important factor in determining your career success. Taking the time to really listen to others will enable you to develop stronger relationships with others and to also hear about important matters that you might otherwise have missed out on. Real listening also includes picking-up on non-verbal ques which is often where actual learnings come from. The focus groups agreed that developing the art of reading people and situations effectively can be career defining. Seek and act on feedback Another essential component of listening is seeking and acting on feedback you receive from others. None of us like to hear negative comments but embracing these and implementing positive changes as a consequence can help to advance your career. The feedback you receive can often help you identify and deal with career inhibiting behaviours or actions. 10. Get a mentor- have your own trusted advisor A significant number of the members participating in the focus groups mentioned the importance and the potential impact of a mentor. They felt that the support and guidance that they received from a trusted mentor had a very real and positive impact of their career as they benefited from their experience and perspectives. Their advice was for every member to seek a mentor and to avail of the Career Mentor Programme offered by Chartered Accountants Ireland. The support of a mentor can contribute to your career success. 11. Embrace technology Technology is impacting on all aspects of the world around us including finance. The focus groups firmly believed that it was career critical to embrace technology and to leverage it to your advantage when looking to add more value in your role. It was felt that Excel was now a minimum requirement with many roles and organisations requiring higher level expertise in the areas of financial and data analysis, process improvement and even robotics. It was agreed that embracing technology provides members with the capability to add more value and in turn enhances career potential. 12. Don’t be too busy- Are you a busy fool? In a world where work pressures are immense and expectations are increasingly higher we can fall into the trap of over committing, taking on too much and not taking time out to reflect and plan. There can be a tendency to become completely immersed in your role and miss the more strategic and significant matters that are going on around you. Members felt that it was important to take time out and to give yourself ‘headspace’ to think rather than to be stuck in the ‘doing’ of your role. It is when we take time out to really think that important decisions, plans and strategies can be formulated. Overcommitting can obviously also lead to burn-out. The pace at which you are working needs to be manageable and sustainable to allow you to achieve your full potential over the longer term. Focus on your well-being and resilience levels Following on from the topic of ensuring you are not a busy fool, there was a strong sense amongst the focus group participants that a real commitment to your well-being was a key component of career success. There was a significant awareness of the need to incorporate self-care and stress management into your life and career. In other words it is important to spend time doing the things that you enjoy and that help you to recharge and maintain your mental health and overall well-being. Mindfulness has proven to be beneficial for members as have various self-awareness exercises. Overview I hope you have found this article of interest and benefit to you in terms of planning, developing and maintaining your career. It incorporates many key messages and advice from members and I would recommend that you save it and revisit it periodically to remind yourself of the points that are most relevant to you. Remember that the Career Development and Recruitment team are available to meet with you to discuss your individual career plans with you.

Sep 10, 2018