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While the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK has been preserved post-Brexit, businesses still need to be compliant when it comes to work and travel permission requirements for employees, says Doone O'Doherty. Now that the UK has officially left the EU, many employers have started to see travel and work restrictions apply to certain employees who, before Brexit, could have travelled and worked freely within the EU. Employers need to ensure compliance for their employees and indeed for their own organisations. Ireland is in a somewhat unique position insofar as the free movement of UK and Irish nationals between both countries has been retained under the Common Travel Area agreement. There may be an assumption that Brexit really has no immediate impact on the people agenda for Irish employers and, for many organisations, this is the case. For others, however, particularly those with UK or EU national employees, Brexit throws up a completely new conundrum, with concerns over immigration and global mobility becoming something that employers may need to navigate, often for the first time.  Work permission required   The bottom line is that, since 1 January, freedom of movement of UK and EU nationals between the UK and the rest of the EU has ended. If you have either UK national employees who need to travel to another EU member state, or EU national employees who need to travel to the UK, these individuals are now subject to potential work permission requirements. There may also be restrictions and time limits on the activities they can carry out as business travellers. Where once a UK national could simply move to another EU member state at short notice, and vice versa, attention and planning now need to be given to such travel arrangements. Not only does consideration need to be given to any new movement of people, EU nationals already resident in the UK will have needed to secure their right to live in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. Similarly, UK nationals resident in the EU will need to secure their status and regularise their position under the specific rules for that country. Thorough review needed  Businesses need to undertake a thorough review of their workforce and identify any frequent business travellers or those who are likely to be affected by immigration restrictions. This includes building potential immigration requirements and robust pre-travel processes into their Global Mobility Policies. Communicating with employees is also important to make them aware of any new pre-travel requirements or steps to secure settlement that they may need to undertake. Consider the potential cost impact of obtaining necessary immigration clearance. There are two aspects to consider: social security and the application of Irish PAYE rules to short-term business travellers. Social security  The Social Welfare Order 2020 came into effect on 1 January 2021. Its purpose is to ensure that the social security rights and entitlements of Irish and UK citizens under the Common Travel Area arrangements are maintained post-Brexit and that social security need only be paid in one jurisdiction. One key aspect is that it applies to Irish or UK citizens only, who may work in either one or both territories. Thankfully, supplementary provisions were included in a new protocol to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Social Security Coordination to ensure that EU or UK citizens who move between Member States will continue to be liable to pay social security contributions in one State at a time. Special provision is made for ‘commuters’, which provides that such individuals may be retained within their home country social security system. This is particularly welcome in the case of EU citizens living in the UK who commute or are posted to Ireland to work and who would not have been able to avail of the Social Security provisions above. Employers need to understand where their people work, their citizenship status and how to make the appropriate applications under the revised rules to the relevant social security authority. Irish PAYE and short-term business travellers  There is no change to the underlying tax rules in Ireland because of Brexit. However, there is likely to be increased short-term business travel between Ireland and the UK, largely due to our geographic proximity and the fact Ireland is the only English-speaking member of the EU.   One myth that often exists is the belief that, provided an individual spends less than 183 days in Ireland, there are no tax implications for their UK employer. This is far from the truth – Ireland has a comprehensive set of rules applicable to short-term business travellers/visitors (STBV) that can easily give rise to an obligation to operate Irish PAYE based on an individuals’ Irish workdays. Equally, it is possible to avail of some concessions in respect of STBVs whereby Irish PAYE does not need to be applied, but only if the appropriate due diligence is undertaken.  UK employers need to understand the travel patterns of their staff, the nature of the duties they are undertaking and the intended duration of those activities. Advice should be sought regarding the potential Irish PAYE (payroll withholding obligations) and whether there is a way to mitigate that obligation. Furthermore, the employer should implement a robust system of tracking an employee’s Irish workdays in order to mitigate any potential breaches. Doone O'Doherty is a Partner in People & Organisation at PwC.

Feb 26, 2021
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In the past year, the way we do business has drastically changed – transitioning from face-to-face to virtual. With work practices moving online, what can businesses do to attract and retain clients? Mary Cloonan has the answers. In the last year, accounting firms have responded quickly to working remotely. Partners are zooming like never before. However, it’s also important to consider how new work can be developed in this virtual world. When we consider our tactics, the most important place to start is to view the world from our target audiences’ perspective. Right now, it’s a virtual perspective. Potential clients are looking for you online before they are doing anything else. Try this: clear your cache and search on Google for your name, your firm name and any other search terms you think your audience might use. Is your firm’s website, LinkedIn profile, social media accounts, etc., on the first page of results? The latest research from the US indicates that business to business buyers must see your message nine times before engaging with it, so it’s essential to make sure your name is prominently placed. If you want to continue to build your client base during this pandemic, there are a few steps you need to take. The ideal client Consider your preferred client in detail. They must be central to every business development action. Website development Your firm’s website is the cornerstone of your presence in the marketplace. It needs to be excellent; the quality of firm sites has increased in the last year and yours should be no exception. Think mobile-first, well-written brief content with visuals. This is critical to get right before activating your presence in the market. Don’t forget existing clients It’s important to stay in contact with the people who already rely on your services to retain and grow your business. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile Similar to your website, your LinkedIn profile is your professional persona. Make sure you are using it to the best of its ability to build your connections and stay in touch. Create an environment where you are easy to reach. Networking Since we are in a virtual world, this means virtual networking. Use LinkedIn to engage  with others, their posts, etc. Join in on Zoom events and expand your network. Post content on social media Encourage your team to write engaging and informative articles and blog posts to link back to your website. LinkedIn and other social media drive traffic to your site – sometimes up to 50% of all traffic comes from your social accounts. Pay attention to visuals and video Posts on social media must have high-quality visuals – ideally short but informative videos. Online video creator software is inexpensive and powerful. Be open to creating content for third-parties Seek opportunities with chambers, associations, town or regional groups online to provide educational content and insights to get your name out there. Run quick polls or surveys Running polls and surveys on your site are great ways to target a specific sector. Include specific questions to create great content for press and social media. Don’t forget SEO SEO is complex. It assesses site speed, design for mobile, content, Google reviews, external links, frequency of site updates, visits, average time readers stay on the site, structure, etc. If you want to be found online, work with experts to get SEO right. Use Google’s tools Google mapping and Google My Business Reviews are both important for your reader and SEO. Use both frequently. Google news alerts are useful for finding specific content that you could then share on social media or send to contacts. Understand Pay Per Click (PPC) Many firms have great success with pay-per-click advertising. Get external expertise if you’re going to go this route: it’s inexpensive and effective, but only if done well. Partner up Talk to non-competing peers about doing something jointly, be it webinars, podcasts, referrals, etc. You are now using the network of two people rather than just one. Publish a regular eZine Create a newsletter to go out to your clients and people who have expressed interest in your services. It’s a great way of keeping in contact regularly while promoting your business. Don’t forget about the phone Although our world is virtual, don’t forget to pick up the phone and chat with your clients and prospects. Having a good conversation is a great way to build rapport. Plan and repeat Ensure you are consistent in voice and timing. I see large and small firms start very enthusiastically, but only those who maintain focused will reap rewards. Most importantly, take some action, however small. Steps taken regularly and consistently is key to success. Remember, we are all in the same virtual storm, but in different boats. You don’t have to be an expert in any of the above, but it is essential to know what you don’t know and get short-term help to energise your firm. The core principle of people doing business with people they know, like and trust is still the same: they just need to remember you above anyone else in the virtual world.  Mary Cloonan is the founder of Marketing Clever.

Feb 25, 2021
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Despite being seen as a back-office function, the payroll function has been strong through the pandemic. Therefore, it is paramount to consider your payroll's well-being during this extended lockdown. Bróna Grogan tells us how. With the onset of COVID-19, the payroll function has been pushed into the spotlight at a pace of overwhelming change. Before this, payroll was taken for granted – considered a back-office function. As we continue to navigate through various levels of lockdown, payroll leaders need to remain alert to their team’s needs and expectations, particularly their emotional and mental well-being, morale and motivation. It is not yet known what the economic, health, societal and environmental impact of COVID-19 will be long term, only that the disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating. Bearing in mind that the payroll community thrives on structure, standard operating processes and procedures, team collaboration and ongoing support, the steps outlined below should provide some guidance on supporting our essential workers during the lockdown. Check-in with payroll managers Managing a payroll team onsite is vastly different to managing a virtual one. Open up communications with payroll managers to ensure they have the technological, social and psychological supports and training to enable them to manage their teams. Coaching and mentoring Never before has it been more important to create a safe psychological space for team members to reach out if they are going through a difficult time. It is imperative a coaching and mentoring environment is fostered for the team when they need it. Conflict resolution Without the luxury of proximity to work through potential client and peer conflict, seek a commitment that issues won’t fester and agree on a virtual process for conflict resolution by appointing an escalation team where necessary. Cultivate trust and intimacy In the absence of face-to-face and “water cooler” conversations, establish a contract with your team about how you will communicate – how often, what time and what medium to be used. Create a daily ‘huddle’ for all team members to check in with each other. Payroll deadlines offer little room for casual chats, so consider introducing some sort of informality to help people relax and connect at a deeper level. Expect the unexpected With the vaccination rollout programme underway, it is expected this current pandemic will resolve itself soon, but we can be assured it’s not the last time that we will be exposed to unexpected events. Therefore, build some time into your schedule to consider “what if” scenarios to ensure you have factored in a contingency in terms of payroll service continuity. Keep technology simple Regularly ensure that all team members have the required access to perform their roles and that it is a straightforward process to log on to virtual servers. Implement clear escalation procedures in the event a team member is having IT issues. Lead by example Use the same tools as your payroll team and maintain a presence despite being remote. Be accessible and available to your payroll managers and team, actively listening to their concerns when needed. Considering the needs of a payroller, adopt a business-as-usual stance, but be honest with your team about any potential concerns. Roles and responsibilities With the transition to remote working, perhaps roles have been modified in some way. Re-define those with your team so that there are clear expectations around deliverables mitigating any role ambiguity. Virtual working with dispersed teams is likely here to stay, so finding ways to work effectively while channelling the collective energy of your payroll team is critical to individual and organisational success. Bróna Grogan is and Executive Coach and the Group COO at Payment Plus.

Feb 25, 2021
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With spring just around the corner and vaccinations on the rise, everything seems more hopeful. Now is the time to reinvigorate your team and get them to engage in their work in a meaningful way, says Anna O’Flanagan. We’ve made it through a long winter, and while it may not feel like it yet, spring is just around the corner. Some team members may be coming out of hibernation and engaging more. Others have perhaps fallen off the radar altogether. This third lockdown has been rough, so people will be reacting differently as we ease out of it over the next few months. Regardless of where your team members land, in order to bring the whole team together, leaders will need to encourage engagement over the next few months. According to The Progress Principle, which promotes creating meaning in our everyday work lives, we need to find ways of working that foster progress while also improving our work life on a daily basis. Strangely, these two things are not mutually exclusive. Creating meaningful work So, how do we create work that has meaning? Set goals and KPIs Setting clear goals and having ways to measure and mark milestones is an excellent place to start. This will help your team to understand the ‘why’ of their work. They will start to recognise the benefits of the work being achieved and will become fully aware when a goal is reached. Prioritise and collaborate If a project is deemed critical to your organisation, demonstrate its importance by clearing the decks and relieving the team of other responsibilities for now. Progress is also more visible and rewarding when teams are given the opportunity to collaborate on parts of their work. Give acknowledgement Remember to recognise all contributions to a project and acknowledge each milestone as it is reached. This gives clarity and purpose, helping people connect to the shared vision and experience and giving them the drive to continue. Celebrate! Finally, when all the hard work is done, even on a short-term project, it needs to be celebrated. Enrich your team and keep them focused by recognising all achievements and setting time for “events” that uplift them. There doesn’t need to be a big party, but time does need to be allocated for this to happen in a thoughtful and authentic way. So, how about setting some time aside this week to figure out with your team how and when they would like to be recognised and celebrated? Make their work meaningful and it will be worth the investment. Anna O’Flanagan is Founder and Chief Squirrel at Red Squirrel Team Building.

Feb 18, 2021
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Negotiating is seen as an innate skill, something people are born with. This isn't the case, however; anyone can negotiate if equipped with the correct tools. Alan Nelson tells us how. Whether you’re negotiating with budget holders during the annual planning cycle, or worried about a difficult conversation on an audit assignment, negotiating has always been a key skill that accountants must acquire. For many of us, that has become more apparent during the recent lockdowns, with difficult conversations with suppliers and customers all being conducted under intense pressure. Many think that negotiation is a talent you either have or do not have, but nothing could be further from the truth. Negotiation is a process. You improve by learning key negotiation skills. What's more, there are some simple tools you can use that will help you learn how to negotiate, five of which are outlined below: 1. A bit of empathy goes a long way Try to put yourselves in the other person's shoes. Thinking about the situation from their point of view as well as your own will help you to anticipate their position, and find a solution that is a win for both parties. 2. Speaking, listening and understanding Successful negotiators employ three keys skills: speaking, listening and understanding. You must articulate your position, listen to the other party, and understand what they are saying and why. Very few people are good at all three of these skills. The key, however, is to reflect on your weaknesses. If you are a nervous talker, then prepare for negotiations by thinking about the words you might use. If you tend to talk too much, then prepare some questions. If you find it hard to understand what the other person cares about, make notes while they speak. 3. Understand the trades Negotiation is all about trading concessions. We start in one place and then we trade concessions. So, make a list of all the things you have to trade. Make sure you include everything; some things may be easy for you to concede, but could be of great value to the other party. 4. "If" is the hardest word Once you have your list of possible trades, think about phrases you could use that include the word “if”. For example: “If I could reformat the data to make it easier for you, could you get me your response a couple of days earlier?” "If we set this up so that you get your report before lunchtime every Tuesday, could you commit to this format for the next six months?" This will help to ensure that you don’t give anything away for free. 5. And finally: plan, plan, plan! Planning is something that finance people should be good at. Spend time before the negotiation planning your approach. The four tips given above provide a pretty good list of headings for your plan. In the end, always stay calm and professional, and try to remember that you want to work with these people when lockdown is over. Good luck with your negotiations. Alan Nelson is Managing Director of accountingcpd.net. He is the author of the course Negotiating Skills for Accountants.

Feb 18, 2021
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With a digital revolution in full swing, how long will it be until our currencies go fully digital? Tristan Perrier examines what central bank digital currencies are and when we might expect to use them. The goal in creating retail central bank digital currencies (CBDC) is to give the public access to a digital currency that retains a certain number of the characteristics of physical currency. Like physical currency, and unlike bank deposits, retail CBDCs will constitute a direct liability for the central bank, eliminating, in principle, any credit risk for the holder. Depending on the selected architecture (direct or indirect account of the end-holder with the central bank, and/or a digital token that can be used online or offline, etc.), such currencies could offer similar advantages of portability and confidentiality to notes and coins. However, their immunity to different undesirable events would differ. For example, CBDC and physical currency would not be vulnerable to the same types of criminal activity. Despite this, it is very unlikely we will see a major country introduce fully functional retail CBDCs this year, although central banks, including some of the larger ones, seem to be speeding up their preparatory work. The People’s Bank of China, for instance, has conducted CBDC tests in several large cities in recent weeks, while the European Central Bank recently concluded a vast survey to decide whether it will launch a concrete project in the second half of 2021. While the US Federal Reserve’s communication on the subject remains more cautious, stating that there is no “need or urge to be first”, certain central banks of smaller countries are at a more advanced stage. What does this mean for banking systems? Economic agents holding domestic CBDC alongside bank deposits (which are also dematerialised but are liabilities of private sector financial institutions) raises the issue of the respective roles and interactions of these two asset categories. Central banks will, in fact, have to define the future terms of competition and plan for or prevent the changes that their coexistence could bring on banks’ cost of financing, risk profile, and the mechanisms by which they normally create currency. They will also have to determine the extent of the role of intermediary played by banks in giving the public access to CBDC (since central banks thus far have not been equipped to interact directly with individuals, it is generally envisaged that commercial banks would be given this role). These are complex issues that, in addition to the technical and operational aspects, warrant a cautious pace of progress by the authorities. A new instrument of monetary policy At present, no major central bank seems to view CBDC as serving a primary role as a new monetary policy instrument beyond the strengthening of the legitimacy and use of the official national currency. Nevertheless, many observers (including the central banks) are reflecting on such a possibility and its major implications. First, CBDC could lower the “effective lower bound” – point beyond which further monetary policy in the same direction is counterproductive – of monetary policy if, for example, they carried negative interest rates or, by contrast, increase it to zero if they constituted zero-rate assets which are less costly to hold (in terms of storage and security) than physical currency. Second, CBDC could, in theory, become a “programmable currency” whose possibilities of use (time-limited, restricted to certain expenditure, etc.) could be managed dynamically by the authorities. Other possibilities, such as new interactions between monetary policy and fiscal policy, are also envisageable. Visibility in this domain is as limited as the theoretical possibilities are vast. CBDCs could have many consequences, some of which would be complex and difficult to figure out. Considerable work and additional testing are vital before they are introduced. However, with the gradual reduction in the use of physical money and the rapid development of digital rivals for traditional currencies, it is very likely that we will see CBDC introduced within a few years. This could impact on many sectors of domestic economic and financial life, as well as international financial equilibria. Tristan Perrier is a Global Views Analyst at Amundi. A version of this article was originally published in The FM Report.

Feb 18, 2021