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A Chief Control Officer (CCO) is increasingly viewed by companies as an effective medium to enhance accountability and reinforce control capabilities internally. The oversight and supervision of non-financial risk are considered crucial in countering conduct and operational risks, yet the effectiveness of a CCO function is predicated upon the implementation of a control framework across a complex infrastructure of business lines, control functions and multiple jurisdictions. Reduced risk of non-financial control breaches A dedicated CCO, accountable for cross-functional supervision of non-financial risks (both operational and conduct-related) within the first line of defence, can be a highly effective means to reduce operational breaches, enhancing broader risk culture and mitigating the risk of regulatory intervention. Enhanced control governance  A well-defined governance structure, with exhaustive accountabilities and responsibilities is a key component of an effective control function. CCOs are held accountable for the effectiveness of the controls framework within the business they operate. Cost-effective control framework The simplification and delineation of responsibilities following the evolution of a disjointed controls framework has delivered notable efficiencies for financial institutions. Optimising the CCO operating model reduces duplication, streamlines control design and monitoring and simplifies reporting models. Improved responsiveness  A standardised CCO function has allowed many financial institutions to pro-actively design, manage and execute their control frameworks to meet the reporting expectations of senior management and regulators. Additionally, an optimised CCO function can enable greater responsiveness to the rapidly evolving market, operational and conduct risk environment. Operating model alignment The mandate of the CCO will vary according to the complexity, operating model and jurisdictional footprint of the organisation. Nevertheless, the CCO should support the business head risk owner and the COO to pro-actively manage and maintain a ‘risk-aware’ culture, mitigating conduct and operational risks by driving the controls agenda across the organisation Drive clarity and collaboration  Enhancing collaboration of CCOs across business is essential, it can be achieved by introducing unified systems that encourage and drive best practice. The alignment of responsibilities will ensure that CCOs have a clear cross-functional and multi-jurisdictional mandate which will drive consistency between CCOs and other control functions. Utilise technology to evolve  Digital and technology developments play a central role in the evolution of control functions. It is imperative that CCOs consider the use of enhanced data analytics, technology solutions and, in many cases, third-party associations, to empower the function through enhanced or automated supervision, management and controls testing to mitigate non-financial risk. Sheila Duignan is a Partner in Business Risk Services in Grant Thornton. You can read their full report here. 

Jun 15, 2018
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Non-financial rewards can be a very effective way to boost employee loyalty while rewarding your top performers, says Teresa Campbell. Recruitment is almost always a costly business for employers. Hiring, training and developing new employees takes time and money. So, when you have invested in putting a team together, it makes sense to think about what you can do to boost employee loyalty long term so you don't have to repeat the process if your turnover become high. Many business owners worry that they cannot offer sufficiently attractive bonuses and pay rises to hold on to their best performers. It is true that in a competitive market there will always be opportunities for good people to move on. So, if money is the only motivator, the chances are you will lose your best people over time. However, non-financial rewards are increasingly important in today’s market. By taking the time to identify and implement appropriate reward structures, you can boost employee loyalty, saving your business time and money in the long run. Autonomy When your employees have autonomy in their roles and see that you recognise and value their contribution, this in itself boosts loyalty. If they have input into the direction their role heads and maps out how they want to get there, an employee can feel more invested and like their job has purpose. Offering volunteer opportunities also allows employees to give back to their local community, and gives them a feeling like they and their company contribute to the world beyond their sector and back to their community. Development It's important to offer development opportunities such as training, mentoring, and project work to employees who want to take advantage of them. Not only will your employees feel supported, but the productivity and knowledge of your workforce will grow. In the same vain, offering assistence with education or exam fees, or personal skills development can also incentivise staff to stay put. Flexibility Our lives are a bit hectic these days, so offering flexibility for employees to vary their start and finish times or to work from home if appropriate could be seen as a big benefit getting new, top performers in the door and encourage them to stay. Community building Aside from the in-office benefits, it's good to consider offering staff days out, such as family picnics and gatherings, support for sport activities like a rugby or football team and rewards for long service in the company. Company support Often times, there are fees employees pay out because of their employment that could cost less the company less than a significant bump in salary but still give back to employees, such as paying for professional subscriptions or membership fees, enrolling in tax saving schemes for annual or monthly bus/rail travel passes, partaking in cycle to work schemes, offering company vehicles, extra annual leave or medical check-ups in the office. Seek advice Before deciding to provide non-financial rewards, it is important to consider the potential tax impact. Failing to structure your rewards correctly could result in a tax liability for you or your employees. For some rewards, tax incentives may be available. Recruitment is key Hiring the right people at the outset will save you time and money in the long-term. Hire for the role, the team and the organisation. Think about your leadership style, bearing in mind that recognition of individual contributions is often the key to securing employee loyalty.  Finally, remember that your employees play a key role in helping your business develop and grow. When the time comes for you to exit, having a loyal team in place is often a key selling point. Teresa Campbell Staff Director of PKF-FPM Accountants Limited.

Jun 14, 2018
News

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D. recently published the Findings and Insights of the firm-level impact of Brexit on Most Exposed Sectors. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), jointly with Deloitte, undertook detailed engagement with almost 170 firms. The report is informed by firm-level insights if they were to be faced with a no deal/hard Brexit situation. It focuses on the 15 sectors deemed to be most exposed to the implications of Brexit. The research was framed to elicit responses in relation to the four freedoms currently afforded by membership of the EU: freedom to move goods; freedom to provide services; free movement of labour; and free movement of capital. The findings indicate that the greatest level of concern, regardless of sector, relates to the free movement of goods and the possible imposition of tariffs on trade. Other concerns felt widely include those relating to mutual recognition of standards and the free movement of people. The study highlights that a ‘no deal’ outcome of the negotiations would have serious implications across many aspects of a firms’ operations. The study also reveals that the impacts of Brexit are likely to be firm-specific. Commenting on the report, Minister Humphreys said: "The report underlines that every business is different, whether in terms of the markets they serve or the nature of their operations, and each will be impacted in different ways. This finding validates the approach taken by my Department and our enterprise agencies, which focuses on tailoring supports to meet the needs of the company. With this in mind, I would encourage businesses to engage with the range of supports and services available to help them ensure they are Brexit-ready. Our priority is to build resilience and competitiveness across all sectors. The Department’s publication, Building Stronger Business, also outlines initiatives to help firms to compete, enable firms to innovate, and support firms to trade in the face of Brexit. One of those is the Brexit Loan Scheme, which makes €300 million in funding to eligible Irish businesses. The Scheme will provide much-needed finance to eligible business impacted by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the Minister said. By its nature, the information presented in the Report is a point-in-time analysis. Firm responses were collected between February and August 2017. The full report can be found here: Findings and Insights of the firm-level impact of Brexit on Most Exposed Sectors.   Source: The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Jun 14, 2018
News

The number of professional job vacancies available in May 2018 increased by 12% nationally since April, according to the Morgan McKinley Ireland Employment Monitor. Overall, the availability of professional jobs reduced by 14% in May 2018 compared to the same month a year ago. There was a reduction of 4% in the number of professionals seeking new roles in May compared to the previous month. The monitor also recorded a decrease of 17% in the number of professionals actively seeking new job opportunities in May 2018, compared to May 2017. Morgan McKinley Ireland, Global FDI Director, Trayc Keevans commented: "May was an active month in terms of jobs announcements and hiring activity. The job flow was steady overall with high demand in certain key areas including IT, supply chain and financial services. HR remains a very buoyant sector as companies continue to grow their employee numbers. The moderate reduction in the number of professional job seekers in May, compared to April, is largely seasonal in nature as there is usually less mobility and attrition to be seen in the market at this time of year. The year-on-year reduction, both in vacancies and in professionals seeking new roles, should be seen in the context of near full employment where there has been a lot of career mobility and significant jobs growth to date. "In May, big data skills and experience, project management and user interface/user experience design were the primary drivers of the IT sector. The development space is very busy across the board. The busiest area appears to be Java with microservices or Java with big data such as Hadoop and Spark. The Javascript market (Angular and React) is also very busy with a huge demand for candidates. "Similarly, in finance there was a spike in demand for fund accountants and commercial insurance professionals with an urgent need for audit, tax, corporate finance, business advisory, consulting and transformation experience. "Along with a tighter jobs market indigenous companies are much more aware and interested in their competitors' benefits and there has been further growth in flexibility offered through working from home options, flexi-time and sign-on bonuses. A small cohort of employers are looking at more tailored benefits to address the pain points of their employees as a retention strategy which includes childcare vouchers, ad hoc overnight expenses for those travelling long distances to work, as well as flexibility in structure of the working hours of their day to allow for drop-offs and pick-ups from crèche etc. "More recently with unemployment falling below 6% for the first time in 10 years and the forecasts for economic growth continuing into 2019, our ability to continue to attract international talent to meet the demand for employment opportunities has never been more critical. We are starting to see a reluctance creeping in for talent in some sectors to relocate to Ireland, most notably in technology, because of the message they are hearing and reading about on the lack of supply of appropriate standard of accommodation to rent or buy on the market. This needs an urgent solution and communication of same to ensure we instill confidence in this international talent community that Ireland remains the best place to live, work and progress their career." Source: Morgan McKinley.

Jun 14, 2018
News

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), on behalf of James Wates CBE, has published a consultation on corporate governance principles for large private companies. Development of the principles follows the UK Government’s 2016 Green Paper and the BEIS Select Committee’s report of April 2017, which considered the need for improved transparency and accountability in this area. Known as the Wates Corporate Governance Principles for Large Private Companies, the principles are the result of significant debate and exploration, including a review of similar codes in other countries and consultation with experts and representative bodies. Large private companies will be encouraged to follow six principles to inform and develop their corporate governance practices and adopt them on an ‘apply and explain’ basis. James Wates CBE, Chair of the Coalition Group that developed the principles, said: "Good business well done is good for society. Private companies are a significant contributor to the UK economy, providing tax revenue and employing millions of people. They have a significant impact on people’s lives, and it is important they are well-governed and transparent about how they operate. "These principles will provide a flexible tool for companies of all sizes, not just those captured by the new legislative reporting requirement, to understand good practice in corporate governance and, crucially, adopt that good practice widely. The principles are about fundamental aspects of business leadership and performance." The six principles are:   Purpose – an effective board promotes the purpose of a company, and ensures that its values, strategy and culture align with that purpose; Composition – effective board composition requires an effective chair and a balance of skills, backgrounds, experience and knowledge, with individual directors having sufficient capacity to make a valuable contribution. The size of a board should be guided by the scale and complexity of the company; Responsibilities – a board should have a clear understanding of its accountability and terms of reference. Its policies and procedures should support effective decision-making and independent challenge; Opportunity and risk – a board should promote the long-term success of the company by identifying opportunities to create and preserve value and establish oversight for the identification and mitigation of risk; Remuneration – a board should promote executive remuneration structures aligned to sustainable long-term success of a company, taking into account pay and conditions elsewhere in the company; and Stakeholders – a board has a responsibility to oversee meaningful engagement with material stakeholders, including the workforce, and have regard to that discussion when taking decisions. The board has a responsibility to foster good relationships based on the company’s purpose. The consultation is open until 7 September 2018. Responses should be sent to corporategovernanceprinciples@frc.org.uk. The final version of the Wates Principles for Corporate Governance will be published in December 2018. Source: Financial Reporting Council.

Jun 14, 2018
News

The Committee of European Auditing Oversight Bodies (CEAOB), of which IAASA is a member, has published its Report on the 2017 CEAOB Enforcement Questionnaire. The report can be accessed here. The report contains information and statistics in respect of enforcement activities of European auditor oversight bodies for the year 2016. IAASA is an active participant in the CEAOB. The CEAOB is the framework for co-operation between national audit oversight bodies at EU level. Its role is to strengthen EU-wide audit oversight, which is a key objective of EU legislation on statutory audit that took effect on 17 June 2016. The CEAOB is composed of representatives of the national audit oversight bodies of the EU and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Representatives of the national audit authorities of the European Economic Area also participate. Further details on the CEAOB can be accessed here. Source: IAASA.

Jun 14, 2018