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By Susan Moylan More so now than ever before, business leaders are operating in an environment of intense and sustained change. It seems to be happening in all spheres of our lives, showing no signs of slowing down. Technology is probably one of the biggest changes affecting us all, no matter what industry we work in or what role we do. Yes, the future is digital, but it will and should remain the case that both technology and people matter. Digital advancements will happen with or without us, so it’s time to take a proactive approach to identify how we intend to thrive in the future world of work, the digital age, robots or no robots. Transformation We must transform our approach, moving beyond just automating existing processes. Organisations need to completely redefine processes and use new technologies we see emerging in our industry.  Robotics will have an impact on individual jobs – there is no question about that – but rather than making the human race redundant, the increased use of robotics will bring inevitable changes to the roles that we do. Technology will drive change to traditional roles in the future. New skills will need to be developed; creativity and innovation, change orientation, a strategic mindset and data analysis, to name a few. Our learning strategies will have to cater to the needs of a diverse workforce who are dispersed, global and multi-generational, and we can leverage new technologies such as mobile learning, gaming and virtual reality, to help us do this. Our profession needs a different mindset. An openness to change is the single greatest blocker of any transformation – so organisations need highly agile teams. To help build high-agility, organisations and managers should nurture a culture which is open to change and view it as an opportunity. We need leadership teams that are change-orientated, who encourage delegated decision-making as standard. There must be a focus on talent development, taking the lead in the talent race by putting a concerted effort in attracting, retaining and developing our digital workforce. Some people view the exponential growth of technology as a big challenge, a ‘problem’ that needs sorting out. Remember, though, these advancements have and will continue to make our lives better and easier in many ways. Technological advancement is here to stay, so business leaders must take advantage of the many opportunities provided, embrace it, and plan for it. If you don’t, your competitors will. Susan Moylan is an Associate Director of the People & Change Consulting Practice at Grant Thornton NI.

Oct 19, 2018
News

By Michael Fleming If you watch enough professionals become successful, you start to notice what they all have in common. After 12 years of training and coaching, I’ve been lucky enough to see what can make a successful business developer. No matter the kind of person you are – extrovert, introvert, natural leader, or well-studied professional – there are a few things that all these people do when it comes to fantastic business development. Be persistent and tenacious (but never pushy). Be resilient and gracious in the face of rejection. You cannot win them all. Business development is essentially a numbers game. Don’t take it personally. It’s rarely “no, never”; it’s usually “no, not now because…”. Learn from rejection. Get better next time. Be optimistic. In the face of a setback, the optimist’s self-dialogue keeps it temporary, specific and external.  For example: ‘We lost this one – there’s always the next one. The client didn’t necessarily hate me or my offering – there could be loads of other factors at play." Stop thinking of 'sales' as a dirty word. Does 'sales' conjure up images of crass, pushy, self-interested salespeople? When you sell your high-value services, you do not need to do any of the invasive techniques those ‘salespeople’ do. When done well, selling can and should feel good to you, and to your prospects and clients. Follow-up. Stop over-thinking and procrastinating. Just send the email. Pick up the phone. Ask for the coffee meeting. What’s the worst that can happen?  Stop worrying about stepping on others’ toes. Better to seek forgiveness than permission. Be in it for the long haul. Business development is not a one-off event. It requires an investment of time, patience, suppression of self-interest, development of relationships, and it needs the timing to be right – which it isn’t always – so you need to hang around long enough until it is. Ask for face time. This beats a phone call any day and blows emails away in terms of building rapport, developing and deepening relationships and discovering useful information that will help you succeed. Listen. I mean, really listen. As in, shut up and listen. Be curious. Ask questions. Suppress your desire to vomit your pitch on the table. Listen and learn from the potential clients who are talking to you. And then you’ll have half a chance of crafting a compelling pitch that hits the mark. Have a compelling pitch. Put yourself in their shoes. Why should they invest in your and your firm?  Will it help them to achieve their aims and objectives? (If you don’t know what those are, return to step seven.) And make your pitch compelling – stories and analogies used well can really make an emotional connection and ensure that your pitch is appropriately memorable. Get organised. Make time for business development and become more systematic. Block time in your diary. Set yourself targets for a certain level of business development activity. Weave business development tasks amongst your daily tasks. Make it habitual. Sort out your contacts and clients list. Keep those lists (as legally allowed) and look at them regularly. Be yourself. Because everybody else is taken, said Oscar Wilde. But you can also be a chameleon. You ought to be capable of adapting your style to better connect with the many different behavioural styles you’ll encounter along the way. But don’t adapt yourself so much that you lose your sense of self. Michael Fleming is a Training Director and Head of KWC Legal.

Oct 19, 2018
News

By Dr Jill Walker Listen to the conversations around you and you’ll notice it typically goes something like this: “How are you?” “Good, thanks. Busy. You?” “Yeah – mad busy” “I know, it’s crazy isn’t it? Although it’s good to be busy”. We hear it all the time, but is busy actually good? Action and the act of ‘doing’ gives us an adrenaline rush. It flatters our ego and makes us feel important. We also get used to it and it becomes the norm. We get ‘velocitised’. When we first pull onto the motorway, 120kph seems fast. You pass through a village a while later and 50kph seems agonisingly slow. The cost of busy It’s time to take a good, hard look at our relationship with being busy. Just like an exciting but toxic relationship, there is a huge human cost to being too busy. Working as an executive coach and resilience expert for the past 17 years, I see every day the price people are paying. No matter what type of – Irish or multinational, fast-paced tech companies and public sector organisations – people are feeling stressed and finding it difficult to switch off. Their sleep and health are affected. They aren’t getting enough time for things that are important to them, such as family, friends, exercise or hobbies. Many people end up getting sick on holidays (a phenomenon known as “adrenaline withdrawal sickness”) when they aren’t able to stay at a steady pace. Block to top performance While people think being busy is a sign of success, often the exact opposite is true. Research tells us that the more tasks people do, the less well they do each one. When under pressure, intuitive and creative thinking becomes much harder and, often, it’s more difficult to find time for important long-term projects, strategic thinking and innovating; the areas where leaders make the greatest impact. The reality is, if you aren’t getting regular ‘quiet time’, you are not performing at your best. Better, not busier But it is possible to change this. A senior executive I worked with went from working every weekend and evening to never taking her laptop home, enjoying her job and her life more, having a bigger impact as a leader and getting a promoted to director-level during this time. All of this started with her getting out of the hamster wheel of busy-ness. The first step is to make the decision to change how busy you are. Most of us want to be less busy but there is a huge distinction between thinking about something, even wanting something, and deciding to make it happen. If you decide to be less busy, here are some actions that will kick-start the process: If you feel busy, you will always BE busy. Ban the word busy from your inner dialogue. Every time you feel busy, repeat a calming mantra to yourself such as: “I have all the time and space for everything I need.” Schedule at least two hours of free space in your calendar each week for thinking, planning, strategising, innovating, and long-term projects). Create a buffer between meetings of at least half an hour where possible. Only check your emails a few times a day and when you have time to follow through on them. Get good at strategic subtraction. Aim for “less but better”. Be honest with yourself. How healthy is your relationship with being busy and is it time to break up with the idea? Jill Walker is a transformative coach: www.jillwalker.com

Oct 18, 2018
News

From 1 January 2019, the PAYE system, which was first introduced in 1960, is changing to 'real time'. This means that every time employers pay their employees, they will report the pay and deduction details to Revenue as part of the payroll process. A key element of Revenue's role is proactively assisting taxpayers in understanding, and meeting, their tax obligations. Revenue understands that the new reporting arrangements represent a fundamental adjustment for employers and has undertaken a range of initiatives to assist employers, and their tax agents, in understanding the changes that will come into effect on 1 January 2019. These, in turn, will assist employers in meeting their obligations under the new 'real time' PAYE system. In this regard, Revenue is hosting a large number of information seminars nationwide.  These seminars are aimed at employers, payroll operators and tax agents and explain in detail: The new reporting requirements for employers with effect from 1 January 2019; How best to prepare for the changes; and The benefits of PAYE 'real time' for employers and employees. The 111 seminars, which are free and cover 36 locations nationwide, will run to the end of October 2018. Over 20,000 places have been reserved to date. Revenue strongly encourages employers and payroll operators, or anyone involved in the payroll process, to attend one of the seminars to learn more about the changes to the PAYE System and to ensure they are ready to meet the new reporting obligations on 1 January 2019. Limited places are still available and can be reserved for free at  www.revenue.ie/payemodernisation The seminars are just the latest initiative in Revenue's comprehensive communications programme regarding the changes to the PAYE system, which has also included: Writing to all employers in April and September 2018 to outline the changes; Participating in over 158 outreach events nationwide, attended by employer representative bodies and payroll software providers. These events included webinars, workshops, conferences and briefing sessions; Undertaking national employer and agent readiness visits and phone calls whereby over 50,000 employers have been contacted and almost 11,000 visits to employers have been completed; and Increasing public awareness of the changes through ongoing print, broadcast and social media advertising campaigns. If employers, payroll operators or tax agents have any queries, Revenue has a dedicated Employer Helpdesk that can be contacted on (01) 738 3638. The vast majority of taxpayers are fully compliant with their tax obligations. Revenue supports the high level of voluntary compliance by providing service to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers to comply with their tax and duty obligations by being pro-active in helping taxpayers understand, and meet, their obligations and through early and effective intervention in respect of those who do not comply. Source: Revenue.

Oct 17, 2018
News

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its first Annual Statistical Report on the European Union's derivatives markets. The report, based on data submitted under the European Markets and Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), provides the first comprehensive market-level view of the EU's derivatives markets, which in 4Q 2017 amounted to €660 trillion of gross notional outstanding transactions. The primary objective of this data analysis is to contribute to ESMA's risk assessment, to facilitate entity oversight by supervisory authorities, both national and European, and enhance supervisory convergence. According to Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, "The data gathered by ESMA as part of its EMIR responsibilities provides us with an unprecedented level of detail on derivatives transactions and exposures. In addition to allowing us to quantify the size of the market, at €660 trillion, it also allows us to observe that derivatives clearing rates are increasing significantly, showing that the EMIR clearing obligation works and is having the desired impact. "ESMA's analysis of this data provides, for the first time, new information about this market which will facilitate oversight and enhance supervisory convergence, thereby contributing to orderly markets and financial stability in the EU." Highlights At the end of 2017, trade repositories reported a total of 74 million open transactions amounting to a gross notional outstanding of around €660 trillion, including both over the counter (86% of the total) and exchange traded derivatives (14%). In notional terms, interest rate derivatives dominate the market, with 69% of the total amount outstanding, followed by currency derivatives, at 12%, while all other asset classes (i.e. equity, credit and commodity derivatives) account for less than 5% of the total amount outstanding. Central clearing rates for new transactions have been increasing significantly, demonstrating the effectiveness of the EMIR clearing obligation. For all outstanding contracts in 4Q 2017, central clearing rates were around 27% (25% in 1Q 2017) for credit derivatives and 58% (40% in 1Q 2017) for interest rate derivatives, including also contracts concluded before the clearing obligation came into force. The report includes three sections on:   Market monitoring providing an analysis of structures and trends in European derivatives markets during each reporting period, building on the indicators developed for risk monitoring; Statistical methods dedicated to topical issues in developing and exploring derivatives data; and Derivatives market statistics offering a full list of indicators and metrics currently monitored by ESMA. Source: European Securities and Markets Authority.

Oct 17, 2018
News

The Financial Reporting Council's (FRC) Annual Report for 2017/18 highlights priority projects delivered and actions undertaken by the FRC in pursuit of its mission to promote transparency and integrity in business. In the FRC's first full year as Competent Authority for statutory audit in the UK, the FRC has also consulted on a major review of the UK Corporate Governance Code, achieved its largest enforcement fines at the time in cases of serious misconduct by audit firms and introduced new arrangements for enhanced monitoring and supervision of the six largest audit firms. The FRC's mission was revised during the year and reflects its role to act in the public interest. Looking forward, the FRC's 2018-2021 strategy, published in March 2018, identifies objectives and activities designed to continue delivering against the mission.  The review being undertaken by Sir John Kingman will ensure that the FRC is fully equipped for its role and responsibilities as these evolve and to meet the challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. Sir Win Bischoff, Chairman of the FRC, said: "Rebuilding public trust in business and responding to changing expectations of all stakeholders are at the heart of what we do. We will continue to take robust action to meet our objectives and ensure the UK remains a magnet for global capital and a centre of excellence for the professions." The FRC’s Annual Report was laid before Parliament on 11 October 2018.

Oct 17, 2018