Tax

David Duffy highlights the latest VAT cases and discusses recent VAT developments. IRISH VAT UPDATES Revenue guidance updates eBrief 218/18, issued on 27 December 2018, contained links to a number of new and updated sections of Revenue’s VAT Tax and Duty Manual. This includes: Confirmation of a change in Revenue practice, which will result in the VAT rate for sales of certain food supplement products increasing from 0% to 23% with effect from 1 March 2019; Confirmation of a change in Revenue practice, which will result in the application of 0% VAT to sales of rollators with effect from 1 March 2019. A rollator is a device, equipped with wheels, used by persons with a disability or infirm people for support while walking; Refreshed or updated guidance on the VAT rules applicable in certain sectors including opticians, staff canteens, pharmacists and personal contract plans (PCPs); and New guidance on changes to the VAT treatment of vouchers (see below for more detail). Vouchers New VAT regulations (Statutory Instrument No. 582 of 2018) were published in December 2018, which update the Irish VAT law applicable to transactions involving vouchers. The regulations apply to vouchers issued from 1 January 2019 onwards. This update is in line with the harmonisation of the VAT rules for transactions involving vouchers across all EU member states. The new legislation defines the meaning of a voucher for VAT purposes and distinguishes between two types of vouchers for VAT purposes: single purpose vouchers and multi-purpose vouchers. A single-purpose voucher (SPV) is one where the place of supply (i.e. the jurisdiction where VAT is due) of the goods or services to which the voucher relates, and the amount of VAT due on those goods or services, are known at the time of the issue of the voucher. VAT will be due by the seller of the SPV in the VAT return for the period during which the SPV is sold based on the VAT rate of the good or service against which the voucher can be redeemed. A multi-purpose voucher (MPV) is a voucher other than a single-purpose voucher. This would include a voucher that can be redeemed against goods and services in more than one jurisdiction or at different VAT rates. For example, a voucher for a supermarket would typically be an MPV as the voucher can redeemed against products at a number of different VAT rates. VAT will be due on an MPV at the time of redemption of the voucher and the VAT rate will be determined by the goods or services against which the voucher is redeemed. Businesses that sell vouchers will need to review their business to determine whether they are selling an SPV or MPV, and apply the VAT treatment accordingly. VAT refund scheme for charities In Budget 2018, the Minister for Finance announced a refund scheme for charities in respect of VAT incurred by them from 1 January 2018 onwards. Qualifying charities are now entitled to submit an annual claim for VAT incurred during 2018. The deadline for making such claims in respect of 2018 is 30 June 2019. eBrief 219/18 contains guidelines for the procedures for making such claims. In order to qualify for the scheme, a charity must hold a charitable tax exemption from Revenue and be registered with the Charities Regulatory Authority at the date of the claim and the date the expenditure was incurred. Charities will be entitled to apply for a refund of a proportion of their VAT based on the level of non-public funding they receive out of total funding. Revenue’s guidance sets out the method for calculating a refund claim and the process for submitting the claim to Revenue. There is an overall cap of €5 million for this scheme across the charity sector in respect of claims made in 2019, which will be allocated on a pro-rata basis for qualifying claims. EU VAT CASE LAW UPDATES Termination payments  In MEO (C-295/17), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that payments a telecom company was contractually entitled to receive as a result of the early termination of a customer’s contract were subject to VAT. The CJEU rejected the argument that they were non-VATable compensation. In the facts of the case, the telecom company offered contracts under which customers paid lower prices in return for agreeing to a minimum contract period. The contract provided that where the customer defaulted and his/her contract was terminated, the customer owed a lump sum termination amount equal to the net monthly instalments for the number of remaining months in the contract period. According to the CJEU, this termination payment was not a compensation for damages and therefore, was subject to VAT. While the judgment is not available in English, the CJEU’s decision appears to be based on the termination amount being specified in the contract and the fact that the telecom company ended up in the same position as if the contract ran for the full duration. It is still possible that payments which amount to compensation can be outside the scope of VAT, but this judgment highlights that the exact fact pattern and contractual arrangements are important in determining the VAT treatment. Conditional payments  The Baumgarten case (C-548/17) considers when VAT becomes due in a scenario where there are multiple payments that are conditional on future events. The default rule is that VAT becomes due on a supply of goods or services when they are supplied. However, there are exceptions which allow for VAT to be due at a later date where successive payments are made in respect of those goods or services. In this case, the CJEU ruled that the supply of a service by a football agent to football clubs, which was paid for in later instalments that were conditional upon future events, became subject to VAT when the payments were made rather than when the service was initially performed. Baumgarten was a professional agent, which placed professional footballers with German football clubs. When Baumgarten successfully placed a player with a football club, it became entitled to commission from that club provided the player subsequently signed an employment contract and held a licence issued by the German Football League. This commission was paid to Baumgarten in instalments every six months after the player joined the club, for as long as the player remained under a contract with that club and held a German Football League licence. While the service of placing the footballer took place on day one, it was paid for over the duration of the player’s contract and the exact amount due was conditional. The taxpayer argued that VAT should be payable on each payment as and when it became due. The German Tax Authorities, however, argued that VAT was due upfront on the full amount that would be due over the term of the contract. The CJEU decided that, as the full amount of the payments to be made is conditional, the VAT on those payments became due on the expiry of the periods to which the payments made relate. David Duffy is a VAT Partner at KPMG.

Feb 11, 2019
Tax

EY’s Helen Byrne, Sherena Deveney and Brendan McSparran outline the relevant compliance dates for February and March. REPUBLIC OF IRELAND RELEVANT DATES FOR COMPANIES 14 February 2019 Dividend withholding tax return filing and payment date for distributions made in January 2019. 21 February 2019 Due date for payment of preliminary tax for companies with a financial year ended 31 March 2019. If this is paid using Revenue Online Service (ROS), this date is extended to 23 February 2019. Due date for payment of initial instalments of preliminary tax for companies (not “small” companies) with a financial year ended 31 August 2019. If this is paid using ROS, this date is extended to 23 February 2019. 23 February 2019 Last date for filing corporation tax return Form CT1 for companies with a financial year ending on 31 May 2018 if filed using ROS. Due date for any balancing payment in respect of the same accounting period. Loans advanced to participators in a close company in the year ended 31 May 2018 may need to be repaid by 23 February 2019 to avoid the assessment (on the company) of income tax thereon. A concessional three-month filing extension for iXBRL financial statements (not Form CT1) may apply. For 28 February 2018 year-ends, this should extend the iXBRLW to 23 February 2019. 28 February 2019 Last date for filing third-party payments return Form 46G for companies with a financial year ending on 31 May 2018. Latest date for payment of dividends for the period ended 31 August 2017 to avoid Sections 440 and 441 TCA97 surcharges on investment, rental or professional services income arising in that period (close companies only). Country by Country Reports (CbCRs)/Equivalent CbCRs for the fiscal year ended 28 February 2018 (where necessary) must be filed with Revenue no later than 28 February 2019. 14 March 2019 Dividend withholding tax return filing and payment date for distributions made in February 2019. 21 March 2019 Due date for payment of preliminary tax for companies with a financial year ended 30 April 2019. If this is paid using ROS, this date is extended to 23 March 2019. Due date for payment of initial instalments of preliminary tax for companies (not “small” companies) with a financial year ended 30 September 2019. If this is paid using ROS, this date is extended to 23 March 2019. 23 March 2019 Last date for filing corporation tax return Form CT1 for companies with a financial year ending on 30 June 2018 if filed using ROS. Due date for any balancing payment in respect of the same accounting period. Loans advanced to participators in a close company in the year ended 30 June 2018 may need to be repaid by 23 March 2019 to avoid the assessment (on the company) of income tax thereon. A concessional three-month filing extension for iXBRL financial statements (not Form CT1) may apply. For 31 March 2018 year-ends, this should extend the iXBRL deadline to 23 March 2019. 31 March 2019 Last date for filing third-party payments return Form 46G for companies with a financial year ending on 30 June 2018. Latest date for payment of dividends for the period ended 30 September 2017 to avoid Sections 440 and 441 TCA97 surcharges on investment, rental or professional services income arising in that period (close companies only). CbCRs/Equivalent CbCRs for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2018 (where necessary) must be filed with Revenue no later than 31 March 2019. PERSONAL TAXES  31 March 2019 Deadline for claiming separate assessment and nominating assessable spouse for 2019.  GENERAL 23 February 2019 P35 deadline for employers for 2018 (assuming returns and tax payments are made through ROS). Due date for Special Assignee Relief Programme employer returns for 2018. 31 March 2019 Return of information in relation to share options or rights granted in the year ended 31 December 2018. A similar deadline applies in connection with reporting obligations for forfeitable and convertible shares given to employees and directors. NORTHERN IRELAND RELEVANT DATES FOR COMPANIES The key dates for corporation tax purposes will, in most instances, depend on a company’s accounting period end date. The dates below are for a company with a 12 month accounting period ended 31 December 2018. 14 January 2019 Due date for third quarterly instalment payment for “large” companies.  A “large” company is defined as having total taxable profits in excess of the upper limit (being £1.5 million divided by the number of 51% group companies plus one and adjusted accordingly for length of period). PERSONAL TAXES 31 January 2019 Deadline for submission of tax return (individuals, partnerships and trusts) for 2017/18 by internet filing, with a £100 penalty for failure.  All tax due for 2017/18 to be paid by this date.  First payment on account towards the taxpayers 2018/19 liability is due.  Deadline for amending the 2016/2017 tax return. Note that amending the tax return, will extend the enquiry period by 12 months from the end of the quarter period of submission. Quarters run April, July, October and January. Any 2016/17 tax returns submitted after this date will be subject to a penalty amounting to the higher of £300 or 5% of the tax due for the year. This can be increased to as much as £3,000 or 100% of the tax due if HMRC consider that an individual is deliberately not filing the tax return.  Any tax for 2016/17 not paid by this date will be subject to a 5% penalty (in addition to an interest charge).  The trustees of all relevant trusts and complex estates that have incurred a liability for any relevant tax in the tax year 2017/2018 must register beneficial ownership information about the trust on TRS, by no later than 31 January 2019, if they have not already done so.    Relevant taxes are: Capital gains tax; Income tax; Inheritance tax; Land and buildings transaction tax (in Scotland); Stamp duty land tax; and Stamp duty reserve tax or stamp duty. The lead trustee may have to pay a penalty if they do not register the trust before the registration deadline. If they do not register or update the information, and cannot show HMRC that they took reasonable steps to do so, the penalties are: £100 for registering up to three months after the deadline; £200 for registering between three to six months after the deadline; and £300 or 5% of the total tax liability in the relevant year (whichever is higher) for registering more than six months after the deadline. Penalties will not be issued automatically and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.   Note that if the trustees incurred income tax or capital gains tax liabilities in 2016/2017 they should already have registered. If you have sold or disposed of a UK residential property after 5 April 2015 and are a: Non-resident individual; Personal representative of a non-resident who has died; Non-resident who’s in a partnership; Non-resident landlord; Non-resident trustee; Non-resident company or fund; and UK resident meeting split year conditions and the disposal is made in the overseas part of the tax year. You have 30 days from the date of conveyance to report your disposal on the non-resident Capital Gains Tax return, and pay any tax due.  If you do not submit and pay HMRC by the deadline you may have to pay a penalty and interest both on the late filing of the return and late payment of any tax due. Penalties for missed deadlines: £100 if up to six months late; A further penalty of £300 or 5% of any tax due, whichever is greater, if more than six months; and A further penalty of £300 or 5% of any tax due, whichever is greater, more than 12 months. If any non-resident capital gains tax remains unpaid after 31 January after the end of the tax year of the disposal, a late payment penalty of 5% of the tax outstanding will be charged. There are exceptions to the pay now rule if you already have an existing relationship with HMRC – for example, through Self Assessment. If you do, you can either: Pay when you submit your non-resident Capital Gains Tax return; or Defer payment until your normal due payment date through Self Assessment (i.e.31 January following the tax year of disposal). 2 March 2019 Any tax due in respect of 2017/18 and not paid by this date will be subject to a 5% penalty (in addition to an interest charge).

Feb 11, 2019
Ethics and Governance

A new research project has uncovered the extent to which professional accountants are exposed to unethical activity.   The question of ethical or moral awareness of professionals is an important one, given that such awareness opens the door to ethical decision-making. Decisions made by accountants and other professionals are frequently made on a morally blind basis as the decision-maker is not aware that the choice harbours an inherent moral judgement. High standards of integrity are expected of professionals, who are also presumed to apply their specialised knowledge for the public good and to follow a code of ethics. The significance of moral awareness is among the matters that prompted our research into the ethical world of professional accountants in Ireland. In this article, we will discuss the significance and challenges around ethical awareness. We will then describe our research and findings on the subject and conclude with some proposals for optimising ethical awareness, which can subsequently lead to more ethical decisions and actions. What is moral awareness? A morally or ethically aware individual recognises the moral nature of an ethically ambiguous situation, that his/her potential decision or action may conflict with one or more ethical standards or values. An interpretative process by the person to incoming information determines whether they have factored in and recognised the moral values dimension to the dilemma they must address. This is important because moral awareness represents a first step, which ultimately leads to moral action. What leads to ethical awareness? There are various causes of awareness. One is context, the organisational culture in which the individual finds him or herself, with its moral values and reward systems. Another is individual differences. For example, research has found that accountants’ ethical orientation – idealism with a focus on principles, duties, obligations and personal integrity versus relativism, which eschews any absolute moral principles – influences ethical sensitivity in favour of the former. The other factor that promotes ethical awareness is the moral intensity of a given situation. This encompasses the magnitude of consequences from an ethical violation, social consensus on right and wrong, the temporal immediacy of consequences, the probability and proximity of beneficial or especially damaging effects on the public or the victim, and the concentration of effect. Why is moral awareness so difficult to establish? The nature of everyday routine in contemporary business organisations can foster insensitivity to the ethical aspect of decisions. The bureaucratic principle by which modern corporations are organised espouses impersonality in decision-making. It can lead to automaton-like behaviour, devoid of ethical considerations. We have routines of behaviour or scripts to follow in given situations, founded on unquestioned assumptions (for example, a script of how to prepare financial statements so we hardly think about it while doing it). Information inconsistent with the plot of the script may be filtered out (i.e. ethical considerations in the interests of efficiency). Overview of the ethics research Our research was part of a broad project examining ethical awareness, challenges and concerns of professional accountants with a view to creating guiding recommendations in support of ethical practice. Having conducted secondary research as background to steer the primary research, an online survey was completed by 2,137 members of Chartered Accountants Ireland and CPA Ireland in proportion to their membership numbers. This was followed by one-to-one interviews and focus groups to try to understand the thinking behind the survey responses. Online survey In the survey, respondents were asked to evaluate the extent to which they consider the need for ethical conduct in business decisions. Their responses were: 54% stated a “very large extent”; 34% stated a “large extent”; and 12% stated “some or small extent or not at all”. Respondents were asked how frequently, if at all, they observed or encountered particular categories of unethical behaviour (unethical HR practice, undue pressure or influence, dishonesty, bullying and harassment, misrepresentation and/or manipulation of information) in their career. 90% of respondents have “observed or encountered” a range of unethical conduct during their professional career, although this does not mean that they have partaken in such wrongdoing. Rather, it can illustrate circumstances where an individual has clear awareness of what constitutes unethical conduct. Accountants in business generally observe or encounter more unethical conduct than their colleagues in practice. Specifically, accountants in business are twice as likely as accountants in practice to have observed or encountered bullying and harassment. Conversely, 42% of accountants in practice have never observed or encountered bullying/harassment compared with only 23% in business. A partial explanation for this finding may be the fact that almost one third (32%) of respondents within the ‘accountants in practice’ cohort are sole practitioners, 46% of whom have never encountered or observed this behaviour. Further analysis of the online survey shows that at 23%, accountants in business are more likely than accountants in practices with more than 20 partners (11%) to have observed or encountered inappropriate responses to conflicts of interest. An explanation for this difference may be that accountants in practice have a regulatory obligation to formally address conflicts of interests before undertaking audit work with new clients and in reviewing long-standing relationships with existing clients. Accountants in business are more likely to have observed or encountered dishonesty (saying things that are not true). Also, 27% of accountants in practice have never observed or encountered dishonesty, compared with 21% of accountants in business. Again, the explanation may be the greater regulatory oversight over accountants in practice. Accountants in practices with more than 20 partners are one third more likely than accountants in practice generally to have observed or encountered manipulation of information. Such differences may be explained by the fact that accountants in practice, as auditors, are more exposed to clear examples of manipulation – for example, the overstatement of accruals. Furthermore, 32% of accountants in business and 27% of accountants in practice report that they have never encountered or experienced manipulation of information. This phenomenon of never having encountered this type of unethical conduct could be a factor of length of career, given that 51% of respondents’ with five years or less experience report having never experienced or encountered manipulation of information. The survey shows that 32% of accountants in business and 26% of accountants in practice report that they encountered or experienced misrepresentation of information either often or occasionally. Conversely, accountants in business at 29%, and those in practice at 32%, report that they have never encountered this type of misconduct. Again, this could be a factor of length of career as 50% of respondents with five years or less experience report having never experienced or encountered misrepresentation of information. Likewise, accountants in business (43%) are twice as likely as accountants in practice (22%) to have observed or encountered unethical human resources (HR) practice. Of the accountants in practice, 47% have never observed or encountered unethical HR practice, compared with only 23% of accountants in business. Accountants in business are likelier to have observed or encountered unethical HR practice (such as lack of transparency in selection and promotions), since their career and promotional paths may be less formalised or structured when compared with their colleagues in practice.  Interviews and focus groups Focus group participants suggested that there is greater awareness of ethical issues in the accounting profession, perhaps as a reaction to reported high-profile wrongdoing by professional bodies and regulators in the media. However, this is as yet insufficient to guarantee ethical behaviour. One interviewee in practice emphasised that ethics is fundamental, inherently doing the right thing – not just in response to professional regulations. Behaviour should be based on the correct values. This view was echoed in focus groups where there was a belief that behaviour should be based on principles rather than compliance. The concept of culture came up again and again, that ethics needs to be part-and-parcel of the everyday life of an organisation. This is consistent with culture as an antecedent of awareness in the ethics literature. The focus groups stressed that there should be an awareness of the accountant’s obligation to society, especially in larger firms which are involved with public interest entities and many stakeholders. There was general agreement that ethics should be an intrinsic part of organisational culture in both business and practice. In particular, partners in practice have a huge responsibility to do the right thing and lead by example. One interviewee made the point that being a qualified accountant is a very privileged position, as it is difficult to achieve and the examinations are not easy. So, why would you want to jeopardise that with misbehaviour? In similar vein, personal pride and safeguarding one’s own reputation was emphasised in the recently qualified accountants’ focus group. The difference between regulatory compliance and ethics, meaning ‘doing the right thing’, was discussed in focus groups. A particular issue in this regard is tax planning, where participants voiced their unease about highly sophisticated tax avoidance schemes. Accountants in business are more isolated with respect to their professional obligations and ethics than those in practice, where professional duties as an accountant are foremost in their jobs. This is even more apparent in smaller organisations, as larger organisations usually have guidelines or code of ethics. Overall, when questioned in person about the notion of acting in the public interest as part of being a professional, the study participants found it a nebulous concept. When it comes to decision-making, “you act for your client”. The recently qualified accountants we interviewed were of the view that more recently qualified accountants may be more ‘switched on’ about ethics compared to those who have been in the profession longer. They took the view that more experienced professional accountants are more influenced by loyalty and familiarity to the client and this may take precedence in decision-making. They believe that recently qualified accountants are more conscious of accountability for their actions and the consequences of wrongdoing. Enhancing ethical awareness Among the study’s participants, there was a high level of awareness about ethical issues and challenges in business and practice alike. Moreover, conducting this research in itself engaged professional accountants with the essential and relevant subject matter of professional and business ethics. Interview and focus group participants expressed an appetite for more such activity. This suggests that ethics education and training based on real-life issues and dilemmas and in-depth discussions should form a key part of both initial formation and continuing professional development (CPD) of professional accountants to create and advance ethical awareness, embracing principles. Where this is not practical, online discussion groups should be considered. The professional bodies are well-placed to play a significant role in making available such practical supports, training and CPD to their members. Cognisance of moral intensity factors such as magnitude of consequences for society of wrongdoing should form part of the discussion. A more principled ethical orientation of individuals who are relativists can itself be cultivated through such discussions. The challenge for us all is to create more ethically aware organisations. There is an opportunity for professional accountants in business and in practice to take a leadership role in fostering a positive ethical culture in their organisations. Such an approach could produce a virtuous process between culture, awareness and ethical action. Full details of the recent ethics research, which was carried out with the support of Chartered Accountants Ireland Education Trust, is available online from Chartered Accountants Ireland Ethics Resource Centre. To view the report, visit CharteredAccountants.ie/ethics. Dr Eleanor O'Higgins is Adjunct Associate Professor at UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School. Matt Kavanagh is a human resources consultant and part-time lecturer at the Centre for Corporate Governance in UCD.

Feb 11, 2019
Careers

If you want a change in your career this year, it’s best to first take stock of where you are before you can figure out where you want to go. According to recent figures from survey of registered attendees to a November Jobs Expo, 45% of respondents are employed but unhappy and looking to change roles. If you are currently questioning if your current position is right for you long term, it may be worthwhile performing a personal career audit. There are particular areas which you should take into consideration when performing an audit like this, and we have established some of these to guide you in the right direction.  Take stock of your current position One of the main sources of discontent for a lot of people is their specific role in the organisation. Is your current role and company providing you with the development and challenges you are looking for? What could be done differently to ensure you feel more satisfied and happier within your role? One common error is to presume all positions are set in stone with no further scope. Instead, you could explore the possibilities of expanding or adjusting your role to suit your requirements if your employer deems fit. Accountancy professionals often cite ’lack of growth opportunities’ as a major reason they move on to their next role outside of the company. You have to ask yourself: is my role providing the correct career opportunities that align with my future goals and do I derive career satisfaction from it? You should also discuss your concerns with your manager and colleagues to ensure you are exploring all avenues available before deciding to move on.  Define a potential career path The way we work is changing. Today’s modern workforce is frequently jumping jobs and roles. Gone are the days of sticking in one job within the same company for all of your working life. Young professionals, in particular, will now change roles within just a year or two of starting a position. It is more important than ever to have a planned career path in mind alongside clear career goals. Ask yourself regularly if you are enjoying what you are doing and where you are going in your career. With 51% of accountants admitting, according to Morgan McKinley’s Workplace Survey, that they intend to leave their current job in 2019, seeking some career advice from a qualified professional within your field may also be a good idea. Above all, it’s key to only move on to the next challenge when you feel that you have gained everything you can from your current one.  Evaluate your status and create goals Regularly evaluating where you are along your career path and your career status should be a topic of key importance for anyone who is conducting an audit of their current career. Your goals for 2019 should be focused yet flexible as things can change which are outside of your control. Ensuring your goals are consistent and that you regularly evaluate where you are in terms of achieving them is also important. The most popular career goal among accountancy professionals in the Morgan McKinley’s Workplace Survey  was to improve their work-life balance, with 38% citing this as their main focus.  You should consider testing these goals and to see how realistic they are, along with measuring your desire/the importance of these goals in conjunction with your overall career objectives. Ranking these goals in order of personal importance can also help you in terms of the prioritisation of tasks.  Think compensation and benefits Money isn’t the be all and end all in terms of satisfaction you get from a role but the reality is that when you are underpaid, you feel undervalued and probably less motivated to work to your full potential. Reviewing your compensation package should be a regular occurrence and one that should become more of a priority than optional. Benchmarking your compensation and benefits package against similar level positions and competitor companies is a good way of sussing out if you are being adequately paid.  Think about what training you need and are receiving Making a list of the types of training you would like to receive in 2019 can help you identify ways in which your training regime could be improved. It also allows you to identify areas of training which you found unhelpful and shouldn’t continue in 2019. Thinking critically about the training you have received helps determine if the training actually aligns with the objectives of the business.  Review your working arrangements People often overlook their working arrangements when conducting their audit. This includes your commute, which can cause unnecessary stress if too long. When not looked into, these arrangements can cause physical and mental health issues, increased financial expenses, as well as opportunity costs,  meaning time engaging in other important activities  like exercise and family time are sacrificed. There could be some solutions to this problem and it may be as simple as having a chat with your manager about working from home or more flexible working hours to accommodate your commute.  Give yourself a health audit Stress is a factor that costs the economy an unprecedented amount every year. The impact of work challenges on your physical and mental health can be astounding. It can affect job performance and productivity. If you feel your physical, mental and/or emotional health needs a reboot, then a health assessment is paramount. Easy ways to improve your well-being could be as simple as healthy eating, regular exercise, practising mindfulness and managing stress. If you feel that your work is having an negative impact on these simple solutions, then it may be worthwhile making this a key area of focus for your audit and discussing your options with someone confidentially to see what can be done to improve this. The impact taking care of yourself can have on your professional performance can be significant.  How is your financial well-being? Financial well-being includes having control over your finances, being on track to meet your financial goals and being able to afford to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle without experiencing significant money woes. A focus on improving your financial well-being will lead to financial security. Listing your current debt and loans will allow you to establish areas of outgoings and assist you in figuring out if your current income is covering your expenditure.  According to Morgan McKinley’s survey, 55% of accountants believe that they should be paid more. It is more important than ever to take stock of whether or not your finances are looking healthy and what can be done to achieve this in 2019.  Conclusion Like everything to do with careers and professional performance, a successful career audit will not come around without the correct intentions. You need to ensure you’re performing an audit for the right reasons, both personally and professionally, and that you take note of the outcomes of your findings to turn them into positive changes to enhance and benefit your career. The start of any career audit  is asking the right questions about current situation and role and going from there.    James Gallagher is the Associate Director of Accounting, Finance & Legal at Morgan McKinley.

Feb 11, 2019
Careers

Becoming a parent involves significant personal and professional change, but a little planning can go a long way.   Becoming a parent and taking time out of the workplace involves a significant, complex professional and personal transition, and often comes during a crucial time in your career trajectory. Take a moment to think about it. The psychological reorganisation required for healthy adaptation to parenthood is enormous – we have to learn to adapt to the physical, psychological, emotional and relationship changes that occur. It is one of the most challenging transitions that can occur in our lives. From a career perspective, employees in Ireland are lucky to have access to generous maternity leave with many women opting to take upwards of nine months’ leave. Increasingly, partners are also able to avail of a number of months’ leave. This is fantastic for adapting, and bonding with your new baby, but it involves the added transition of stepping away from work and back into it after a period of extended leave. If you have a baby on the way, the chances are that right now you are spending the vast majority of your week going to your place of work and hopefully doing a job you enjoy. This is about to change, suddenly and quite significantly. So much will happen in your life while you are away that the transition back to work will be a big one, despite what it might feel like now. Let us look at what you can do to make life easier on yourself and thrive through the changes ahead. Before leave Once baby is on the way, it can be so easy to be pulled into the craziness of preparing your home for a baby and gathering the baby ‘essentials’. It can often be a bit of a rush to get everything finished up in work, but it is well worth taking the time to put a plan in place for looking after yourself, helping your employer to help you, and managing your career in the run-up to your maternity or paternity leave. Make a plan with your manager Many employers can be reticent about getting in touch while you are on family leave. This is often well-intended but can leave you feeling a bit lost. The best way to counter this is to sit down with your manager before you go on leave and agree a communication plan. This can be as basic as agreeing that you will text them when baby comes, that you want to be notified of any major changes in your absence, and planning to meet for a coffee a few months before your return – whatever feels right and works for you both. Get in touch with human resources On a similar note, if you want to be kept in the loop about company goings-on, internal vacancies and so forth, get in touch with human resources (HR). Although some companies are fantastic at this, others can tend to forget about you altogether! So, make a point of contacting them (or raising the same points with your manager if your company has no dedicated HR function) and asking them to stay in touch.  Work and performance summary I highly recommend pulling together a brief summary of what you have been working on and your achievements in the run-up to your leave. You absolutely will forget! This can be very useful in getting your head back into the game when you return and act as a little confidence boost when looking back at your achievements. Invest in your well-being Make a commitment to prioritise your own well-being, as well as that of your family. Be kind to yourself and remember that there will be many changes ahead; and if things don’t go to plan, tomorrow is a new day. Ask your company to invest in your attendance at a workshop for planning your return to work or for some personalised one-to-one coaching. This is extremely beneficial in helping you get into a positive head-space and assisting with planning when the time comes. And of course, if you are back on top form quickly on your return, this will benefit your employer so it is a ‘win-win’ scenario. Planning your return Link in with work before you return  Keeping in touch with key contacts in work can be very beneficial while you are on leave. In the weeks before you return, arrange a coffee or call with your boss, work friends or network to get the lay of the land and reassure yourself that the landscape has not changed as drastically as you might imagine. Consider what supports would be helpful for you as you return and discuss these with your manager. Know your worth As you start to plan your return, take time to reflect on your worth. List the skills and experience you have gained through your career and also, during your time away from work. If you have trouble doing this, or feel you are losing your confidence, enlist someone who can help you. If you are taking an extended career break, it is important that you maintain professional development through volunteering, reading, attending relevant events and keeping up with industry developments. Make a plan with your partner to manage the household The chances are that you will be doing most of the household ‘stuff’ while on leave. While this makes sense when one partner is at home, this isn’t sustainable when both partners are working. Don’t expect your partner to just know this; it is hard to know what needs to be done when you are not the person doing it. Take time to sit down in advance and agree how you are going to manage the various tasks and downsize or outsource what needs to be done. Plan to get up and out in the morning This depends on your work and childcare circumstances (for example, if you all need to leave together in the morning, if your baby needs breakfast before you leave etc.) Take time to plan everything that needs to happen to get you out of the house, and find a system that works best for you. Most parents I have worked with find it beneficial to get as much done the night before as possible. As you settle back in Things will invariably change for you in the months and years ahead. Your priorities may change, perhaps temporarily and perhaps for the long-term. The sleepless nights don’t go away just because you are back at work and little ones often get sick at the worst possible time. Parenting through the early years can be tough, but they are fleeting in the grand scheme of things. Keep open lines of communication at work and note these wise words from Alan Sroufe: “The best thing parents can do is guard against their own stress levels”. TOP TIPS FOR MANAGING THE TRANSITION TO PARENTHOOD The prospect of parenthood beings with it many competing demands which, when taken as a whole, can be overwhelming. To avoid the common but counterproductive practice of retreating into panic mode, follow Claire’s four simple steps below... Plan, plan, plan Before leave, think about what will make you feel confident and supported as you return to work. Think about what will help you when you have a new-born baby at home and what will make your life as easy as possible. Communication is key If you don’t tell people at work and at home what is going on for you and what support you need, they will not be able to help you. It is so important to do this, even if this means pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Prioritise your well-being Ensuring that you are healthy and well, both physically and mentally, is what will ultimately help you weather any tough times and manage the changes ahead. Know your worth Take stock of your skills, experience and achievements before your leave and as you plan your return. And yes, anticipating the ever-changing needs of your new mini-stakeholder is a skill! Claire Flannery is a business psychologist and executive coach at Strength Within, and mum to two small boys.

Feb 11, 2019
Careers

Coaching can help boost performance, but you must establish a culture that embraces coaching to see the benefits.   One of the most important attributes of a successful leader is their ability and willingness to develop others. Because of this, business leaders are now recognising the value and importance of coaching. If you look at job listings, you regularly see ‘the ability to coach and develop others’ on the list of skills needed in managers and leaders. Businesses are now going one step further and investing in ‘coaching cultures’. Coaching cultures are about delivering results and developmental opportunities to help people grow. You have a coaching culture when leadership is clear that coaching is at the heart of how the organisation is run. What is coaching? Unlike giving advice or direction to staff, coaching is an ongoing developmental process. Its purpose is to help your coachee to continue to learn and develop after the coaching session is completed. Coach and coachee agree on a development plan and work towards its execution together. The development plan is always created in the context of the organisation’s strategy. This distinguishes coaching from more personal approaches, like life coaching. The coach’s role is to ask questions, not give direction, and to assist the coachee in making their own decisions to keep them accountable. The coach is not the expert; the coach is a guide. Done well, coaching can have a big impact on performance and productivity. Creating a coaching culture Lead from the top It’s important to make a coaching project visible to all staff to show that coaching is at the centre of the organisation; that it is a permanent fixture and not a once-off project. Get an organisation leader to be a coach and a coachee, sending a clear message that coaching is at the heart of the organisation. Without a champion at a senior level, it is unlikely that a coaching culture will become embedded. Establish a coaching programme for senior management Encourage senior managers to see the benefit of coaching for themselves. They will bring their experience and enthusiasm for coaching to their own staff. Establish a company-wide coaching training programme. Customise the programme as managers become coaches themselves within the company. Once established, you can customise the programme for the context of your company and culture. Align coaching culture with the organisational performance  Coaching is not an end in and of itself. Coaching is always in the service of team and organisational performance. Coaching should be undertaken with the organisational and business strategy in focus and so, it is important that coaching and organisational goals are always aligned. It is also important that the boundaries between coach and coachee are explicitly negotiated and an agreement about confidentiality and reporting structures is drawn up. Hold yourself accountable at an organisational level Follow-through in a coaching culture is as important at an organisational level as it is on an individual level. Leaders at the top should look for feedback from coaches and coachees, and listen to what people say about the coaching process. If the coaching programme isn’t working, then review, revise and renew. Finally, you don’t need to work in a large organisation to enjoy a coaching culture. Some of the best examples of coaching cultures I have seen have come from small companies and individual practitioners. For example, a group of self-employed and solo entrepreneurs can gather monthly to coach each other. Reach out into your network to look for other professionals who want to engage in a coaching programme. Coaching keeps each person accountable and aligned with business goals as you plan the next stages of business growth. Dr Annette Clancy researches emotion in organisations. She is assistant professor at UCD school of art history and cultural policy.

Feb 11, 2019