Comment

President's Comments - August 2019

Aug 01, 2019
Welcome to a special 50th anniversary edition of Accountancy Ireland.

As this is my first comment piece in the magazine since our AGM, I’d like to say what a tremendous honour it is to follow in the footsteps of a long list of remarkable Presidents. I would also like to congratulate my predecessor, Feargal McCormack, for a tremendously successful year.

The audit challenge

As a member who has spent his career working in audit, it will come as no surprise that I am keen to address the challenge that currently faces the audit profession.

I have 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. 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.

We must remember that what may be required to work in the UK is not necessarily or automatically right for Ireland. We must work hard to ensure good communication between the profession, politicians and regulators to ensure that the very particular strengths we have in Ireland are protected and nurtured.

Routes to our profession

My second area of focus will be around access to the profession. I see this as having three different strands. Firstly at graduate level, secondly by facilitating more graduates to train in industry and public sector, and thirdly by opening up a route to non-graduate entry.

Over many years, the Institute’s dependence on the audit functions of the big accounting firms has become more and more accentuated. I believe there is real opportunity both to widen our graduate pool, but also to work with Ireland’s largest corporates – and, indeed, our influential senior members – to revitalise and enhance the ‘training in business’ route to the qualification.

The other thing we need to get right is our school-leaver route. It is inevitable that college fees for university education will be reintroduced at some stage, making third-level education inaccessible to many. Through Accounting Technicians Ireland, we already have a ready-made route for school-leavers to Chartered Accountancy, which presents a fantastic opportunity.

Strategy

My third area of focus will be strategy. We are now working with our Strategy Board to make sure that by the end of the year, we have progressed a new strategy up to 2025.
In doing this, we will engage with the full spread of our membership. We have so many business leaders who are Chartered Accountants and who play a very significant role in Irish business life – creating value, creating opportunities for careers, and sustaining families.

With your help, we will deliver a strategy that secures our reputation and delivers important services to members. I am very confident that together, we can deliver on our themes and strategy for all of our membership.

Conall O’Halloran
President