Careers

Careers

In the last issue, Sinead Smith discussed how the decision of whether to stay in practice or move externally can feel like an existential tug-of-war. But, what if you are considering another path entirely – a path which takes your professional career overseas?  After spending the best part of four years learning your craft and feeling chained to the routines of work, study and exams, the lure of pastures new may be too strong to ignore. This is a path well worn by those who have gone before you and, today, with over 4,000 Irish ACAs working abroad, there is a wealth of support and guidance available to ascertain whether going global is the best decision for you and your career.  Logistically speaking Before the seed of travel takes full root and your mind becomes an endlessly enticing slideshow of tropical sunsets and bustling metropolises, it is important to consider the logistics of working overseas.  In some cases, where you want to work may be largely influenced by where you can work. Chartered Accountants in Ireland benefit from mutual reciprocity agreements with many worldwide professional bodies. The respective Institutes of Australia and New Zealand, as well as Canada and the UK, consider your qualification to be on a par with their own, offering Institute members a seamless transition to those local markets. Working in the USA is also a reality, provided that Institute members meet specific entry criteria and pass the IQEX exam.  Within Europe, the Institute’s compliance with the Common Content Project (CCP) provides qualified members with audit rights in other countries, subject to passing local taxation and legal exam. You may also be eligible for local membership rights, depending on the country.  If your grá for travel draws you to other corners of the world, you will need to further research your eligibility to practice locally as an accountant and what hoops you may need to jump through in order to be compliant.  Other pertinent logistic considerations include:  Access to work visas – Will a company sponsor or support your application and, if not, how much time/money do you need to go through the appropriate channels directly? Safety issues – Does the country or city you are considering have any extraordinary safety concerns? Is there a local Irish attaché should you need consular assistance? Is compound living the norm for expats? Motivating factors When the Irish economy was struggling, many young professionals found themselves lured overseas by the prospect of secure employment and higher salaries. Now, with Irish unemployment at its lowest rate ever, and multinational corporations clamouring to join our marketplace, it’s important – leaving aside just a simple desire for a change of scenery – to consider what is motivating you to look for employment abroad. For instance, the market for newly qualified ACAs in 2020 Ireland is booming. There is a huge variety of career paths available to satisfy every professional preference and starting basic salaries are at the highest they have been since pre-recessionary times. Taking advantage of this prosperous and varied local market and establishing yourself as a newly qualified accountant may work out better in the longer term when it comes to progression, earning potential and networking. Conversely, overseas experience can also prove invaluable when considering longer-term career development. Larger markets can offer accountants access to more complex capital markets and a diversity of experience that may be hard to find locally. Cultural differences in business can result in a deeper understanding of how to be an effective influencer and exact change and add value in even the most diverse of working environments. All these skills are of utmost value and will be looked favourably upon when re-entering the Irish market.  Finding your tribe In last year’s edition of Abroad, Irish Chartered Accountants around the world shared the realities of what it is like to move, live and work overseas. We learned that in Japan, business etiquette is much less flexible than in Europe; in Singapore, there are quotas for expat hires as companies are required to favour local candidates; and, in the US, there is less of a sense of urgency in business than one might expect.  Each hotspot profiled offered up its own unique merits and challenges but, from Abu Dhabi to Ho Chi Minh and from Spain to Saudi, a shared importance was placed on networking.  Whether for professional purposes or personal satisfaction, it is vital to make connections very early on. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, link up with a local Chartered Accountants Ireland district society or find a sports team nearby. Try not to limit your networking to other Irish expats but seize this as an opportunity to diversify your world view and your professional connections – you never know what might come of it! 

Mar 02, 2020
Careers

Deciding where you want to be post-qualification might seem like an overwhelming decision, but it doesn’t have to be. Sinead Smith explains. In the eight plus years that I have been in recruitment, my work has centred around people like you: Chartered Accountants Ireland students who are about to make the first big decision of their professional careers. This is always a time that is peppered with conflicting emotions. For some, apprehension over the exams is at the fore, while for others, it is the excitement of the finish line finally coming into view.  Regardless of which feeling is most prominent for you, a common thread that unites all soon-to-be-qualified Chartered Accountants is an understanding that whatever move is made at the end of a training contract will play a significant part in shaping career trajectory, progression opportunities and earning potential. This is apparent in the conversations that I have every exam season. Sure, these chats may start off tinged with a mild degree of panic but they quickly become about something much more important – taking control. You see, it is something of a misconception that the first big decision you will face as a Chartered Accountant will be about which role to accept. Rather, it is about what move makes the most sense for you, your interests and your ambitions. Knowledge is power The first and, oftentimes, most important question a newly qualified Chartered Accountant will have to ask themselves is whether they should stay with their training firm or make an external move. Some of you will know instinctively what makes sense for your career but most report feeling torn – whether that is out of a sense of loyalty, a fear of the unknown or a hesitancy to make the wrong decision. The easiest way to answer this dilemma is to arm yourself with knowledge. Briefly set any loyalties aside and consider what you want your career to look like in 10 years’ time and how you can achieve this. Look at potential career paths internally, read job specs for external roles, seek the counsel of trusted senior accountants who have been through this before or, indeed, recruitment consultants and the careers advisors within Chartered Accountants Ireland. You will likely find that the answer is clear after considering all angles and approaching the process methodically.  Whatever you decide, remember that there’s no shame in staying and there’s no disloyalty in leaving.Managing stress Chartered Accountants are some of the most sought after professionals in Ireland and, as a newly qualified ACA, you will be entering into a market that is very much weighted towards you with a large number of roles across a variety of disciplines and sectors available at the click of a mouse.  However, looking for a new role can become a full-time job in and of itself, and the failure to take full control of your recruitment process from the get-go can quickly begin to feel overwhelming. Get ahead of this by keeping close control of who has your CV and where and when it has been sent.  Start an Excel spreadsheet to track job applications, CV submissions and set follow-up reminders. Avoid registering with too many recruitment agencies initially. Limiting your involvement to two or three reputed agencies in the early stages ensures that you are covered on the market without losing track of your CV’s location. Get the most from those agencies that you do choose to work with – leverage them for market knowledge, ask for CV advice, offload the administrative/scheduling work. Begin with an open mind – you will find that you naturally gravitate towards some roles, companies and sectors more than others, and this will allow you to streamline your search and focus only on those opportunities that are viable.  Leveraging the knowledge pool Question everything. It might sound simplistic but asking questions of your peers and mentors, potential employers and recruitment consultants is the best way to feel like you are making a well-informed decision. Some good questions to ask your recruitment consultant or a potential employer include: Is there a policy of training and mentorship? How would you describe the corporate culture? Is there a strong precedence for progression? Do you have examples of people who have progressed? What could I expect from my first three months here? Similarly, you likely spend every day surrounded by more experienced accountants. Turn to them as impartial sources of advice and a means of gaining a good understanding of the market and what a potential move could mean for your career.Get ahead Whether you stay with your training firm or decide to take the leap, get ahead of yourself by getting into the right mindset from early on. Being able to identify and explain your motivations goes a long way towards seamlessly managing the transition from trainee accountant to newly qualified and will ensure that you are following the path best suited to you and your priorities.Sinead Smith is a Director of Newly Qualified Accountants at ACCPRO.

Jan 13, 2020
AI Extra

During your training contract, you should think about what moves you should make and how to leverage what you have now into the career you want in the future. Words by Lisa Hughes Your professional future is a long-term strategy – a little like playing chess. In chess, you don’t win in your first or second move; it’s the future options that these moves create that are key. As you train over the coming years, you should always have one eye on what you want to be doing post-contract, and how the experience you are getting now (particularly the client exposure and nature of work) might affect your options. Let’s look at a classic example: Mary trained in a Top 20 firm. Most of her clients were either smaller SMEs or sole traders. Mary wants to work for Google. The problem is that Google won’t hire Mary as there are a lot of other people out there coming from the Big 4 (and otherwise) with big tech company experience. So, how does Mary go about getting into Google?  She has three options: Mary can keep sending her CV in for jobs in Google, hoping that something sticks. It might, but that’s not likely. Miracles do happen, but I would not advise betting your entire future on one. Mary can make a move that she’s not interested in, but that will help open up more options for her in the future. Mary can make a move to a Big 4 or similar firm where she can get audit exposure to big software companies and then be in a better position to get into Google in around 18 months. Mary can make a move for a contract role in a big tech company – taking on the risk of a contract to gain the experience that Google requires. Google might even have some contract roles open, getting her foot in the door. If Mary could do it again, she might have pushed to get on the medium-sized software company audit during her training contract. It would have made the path to Google more straight forward. What do you want in your future?  How will your time during your training contract affect your options? These are the questions you should ask yourself before you qualify. There are other times when some forward-thinking and manoeuvring will come into play while training that will help you down the line. You might want to use internal audit or stat reporting as a sideways move post-contract to get into organisations where you have no previous exposure, or move into financial accounting now as a stepping stone into business partnering/financial analysis in the future. Play your future like chess – creating options over the coming years is what it’s all about. The exposure you get during your training contract is as important as what you learn in the classroom. Your career is only just getting started – the best next step is to align your client exposure with your ambitions post-contract. Or you could just hope for a miracle. That could work too.

Sep 02, 2019
AI Extra

On average, each job attracts hundreds of CVs. How do you make yours stand out from the crowd? Having gone through this process a few times, Neil Murphy ACA gives his top tips to help you achieve this.  According to Glassdoor, each corporate job offer brings in roughly 250 CVs on average. Out of those 250 applications, four to six will get called for an interview and, as we all know, only one will get the job. So, in an increasingly competitive market, how do you make your CV stand out from the crowd, and more importantly, how do you create an outstanding CV that helps you get called for that interview?  Oh, the effort... Chances are a few years back you put a CV together for a summer job. When it came to seeking advice on what to include and how to structure your CV, you will have searched the internet, or may have asked family and friends for their advice. You then probably saved your CV somewhere and haven’t looked at it since.  Now as you work your way through your ACA exams, it’s likely you’re starting to think about your CV once again. The idea of updating it seems like a chore, especially as you have exams to focus on. But trust me, even though it feels like a big ordeal and lots of effort, starting early and perfecting your CV will take the pain out of it in the long run and will most definitely help you to stand out from the crowd. Top 5 CV don’ts  Here are my top 5 tips on what not to do when writing your CV. 1. Get your spelling wrong This may seem like an obvious one, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of CVs we see on a daily basis with spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure to pay attention to the detail too. A colleague of mine once got called for interview (and subsequently got the role) partly because she noticed the hiring manager spelt his surname (FitzGerald) with a capital G!!  2. Fancy formatting  With so much access to editing and design solutions online, it can be very tempting to add some fancy formatting and design to your CV in an effort to make it stand out. In our experience, simple is better. Focus your effort on the content and demonstrating your skills and experience, not the colour or font style!  3. ‘Flowery’ language  It’s so tempting to bump up your CV with ‘flowery’ descriptive words and adjectives like ‘dynamic’, ‘exceptional, ‘hard-working’. Chances are you don’t use these in real life, so why would you use these in your CV? Dump the descriptive words and focus on including what makes you unique – where have you been successful and what is it that separates you from others?  4. Copy and paste your job description Another common mistake is a ‘copy and paste’ job. Of course, your job description – with a few exceptions and additions – is what you do, so it makes sense to do this. However, no recruiter or line manager is going to trawl through a formal job description: they will want to be able to quickly understand the core elements of your role and what you have achieved.  5. One size fits all  Having perfected your new CV to a tee, you might be tempted to use this ‘perfect’ CV for every job you apply for. Our advice is: don’t! Your CV absolutely has to be tweaked and tailored depending on the role you’re applying for. Failing to do this will not help you in any way.  Top 5 CV dos  Here are my top 5 tips on what to do when writing your CV. When it comes to describing your roles, try to identify the core objective of your role and the top five priorities. Keep it short and concise, link it to your measurables/KPIs and detail these in a clear bullet point format. Think about your achievements, even if they aren’t obvious. Take a step back and reflect on all the different ways you, directly and indirectly, contributed to the successful delivery of specific projects or how the company benefited from what you delivered in your time with them.  Keep it short and concise. Avoid listing every role you’ve had since school unless it is relevant to the role you’re applying for. Make sure to showcase your more recent roles and achievements.  Include a personal aspect to your CV. Remember, the reader is reading this in black and white, so it can be tricky to get a true picture of you. Make sure to include a brief outline of some more personal aspects on your CV, such as your interests, hobbies, and whether you’re involved in any volunteering or pro-bono work.  Make sure to use bullet points (much easier to read), and provide context about your past roles to give a sense of your ability. Focus on the information that sets you apart from others and, if you can, engage a specialist recruiter to help you draft your CV.  Writing and updating your CV is an art form in itself, so make sure to take time and put the effort into it. It will pay off.  Neil trained with Deloitte and qualified in 2011. He then worked in corporate banking before relocating to Australia. In Sydney, Neil worked in financial accounting and analysis across MacQuarie and AMP, before taking a leadership role as Performance Reporting Manager with Commonwealth Bank. Neil currently works with Barden’s recently qualified accountant recruitment team.

Jul 01, 2019
Careers

The performance of the Irish economy is of interest to us all. Whether we’re assessing a new job that might be on the horizon, what an end of year bonus might look like, or the accuracy of a profit forecast — growth matters. You might, therefore, think we would have one simple and clear measure of growth. Unfortunately, economics is rarely that simple. Annette Hughes, Director in EY-DKM Economy Advisory, explains. When it comes to reporting on the economy, a range of measures exist, all of which are relevant, but each of which tells us something different about the economy. The differences between the measures can be difficult to understand, and the use of the wrong measure can lead to mistakes. The inaccuracy of GDP Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most commonly quoted measure and the one you would normally read about in the media. GDP represents the total economic output of Ireland and its citizens. It is an internationally-comparable measure, allowing comparisons across countries. At this point, you may be wondering why we need any other measures. The complicating factor is foreign direct investment (FDI). If an Irish investor bought a factory in France, the initial investment would reduce GDP, as money would flow out of Ireland. However, profits being repatriated leads to an increase in GDP. Therefore, increasing economic activity in France could both have a negative impact (making the factory more expensive) or a positive impact (making the return on investment higher) on GDP.  The reverse is true when a foreign company invests in Ireland. This is normally known as net factor income (NFI) from abroad. As a result, GDP reflects Ireland’s performance against other economies but does not give a true sense of how the ‘real’ economy is performing.  Things get complicated To get an accurate reading on the economy, you need to remove NFI. This gives you gross national income (GNI), the economic activity generated inside the Irish economy. For many years, GNI was the go-to measure for most economists seeking to understand the health of the Irish economy. Then, in 2015, things got complicated. According to the CSO, GDP growth jumped from 8.5% in 2014 to 34.4% (in current prices). GNI growth went from 8.6% to 22.3%. Now, while we all like to see the Irish economy do well, this would have been unparalleled for any major developed economy; Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman termed it ‘leprechaun economics’. So what happened to cause that major upward shift in the growth figures? This remarkable upward shift was due to the treatment of the balance sheets in major international companies. In 2015, the government changed the rules on intellectual property (IP) rights. Before that point, companies could write off capital allowances in investments in IP against a maximum of 80% of the related profits in any one year. In 2015, the 80% limit was removed. This lead to balance sheets dominated by IP products being relocated to Ireland. As these balance sheets were considered to be intangible assets, they were included in GDP. It is estimated that this change led to roughly €30 billion of additional GDP in 2015.  The introduction of GNI* The additional GDP in 2015 meant that a change was needed. GNI needed to be ‘modified’ and modified GNI, otherwise known as GNI*, was created, eliminating the impact of all redomiciled company balance sheets, and giving a more accurate measure of real economic performance. Using GNI*, economic growth in 2015 went from 22.3% to 8.6%; still an impressive performance and somewhat more believable than the original GNI figure.  In 2017, the total modifications came to €53 billion, of which €43 billion was associated with trade in IP (other differences reflect the treatment of depreciation on aircraft leasing). While GNI may be of interest to those looking at the trade in IP rights, for most of us, GNI* would be considered the most reliable measure to gauge real economic activity. A more relevant method Soon after GNI* was introduced, a second, new measure was also developed. This was modified domestic demand (MDD) and was first published in 2017. MDD is defined as total domestic demand, personal and government spending on goods and services, plus capital stock additions and valuation changes, minus the same modifications discussed above. MDD, therefore, gives total spending in the economy and provides a good measure of the health of the domestic economy — arguably the economy that will be more visible or relevant to citizens and businesses.  What’s next? So what’s next for the Irish economy? As GNI* is only available on an annual basis (with the most recent year being 2017), most forecasts focus on GDP and MDD. The latest EY Economic Eye report forecasts growth in GDP of 4.1% in 2019. This is down from the 2018 level of 6.7% but still reflects a robust economic performance. Welcome to the ‘real’ world of economics.

Jul 01, 2019
Careers

How does a soon-to-be newly-qualified Chartered Accountant make effective networking choices? Lisa Hughes ACA, Senior Associate in Barden, shares her personal top networking tips. While working towards your professional accounting qualification, and throughout your career, you’ll be presented with plenty of opportunities to network. For some it’ll be easy, for others it may be a bit tricky, and for many, the thought of walking into a room of strangers and networking will strike up a sense of fear. There is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to networking. It’s all about relationships  Networking is about relationships. It’s about being a first-class listener. As Dale Carnegie once said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested.” Networking also about serendipity – the idea that you can make random chance happen in a non-random way by doing certain things, going certain places and hanging around with certain people. Professor Robin Dunbar, a British evolutionary psychologist, first came up with the theory that an individual can only have around 150 meaningful relationships at any one time. In today’s world, however, we have thousands of connections on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. Whether they are meaningful or not – they are still connected to you in some way. And therein lies the challenge… Strong connections  Networking is about having strong connections with a small group of people, and complementing that with a wide array of weak connections – from which opportunities can and will arise. It’s less about what you know and more about who you know – that’s what networking is all about. There’s a vast array of literature out there on networking for the modern professional, but here are some tips based on our experience. Position yourself Business theorist Jeffrey Pfeffer tells a powerful story of a manager who attributes his success to his decision of where to sit. He noted that, during the course of the day, people walked to the cafeteria and the washrooms. He found where the two paths tended to intersect, near the centre of the open-plan office layout and took that position as his work location. He attributes much of his subsequent success to that simple move since it gave him much better access to what was going on in his department. In short, if you aren’t good at going up to new people, situate yourself so they’ll come to you. Open-ended questions After you position yourself properly, how do you make the most of it at a CPD event or business lunch? First, everyone there will most certainly feel the same way you do. Standing awkwardly at the edge of people in conversation is not a place anyone wants to be, but we’ve all found ourselves there at some time or another. Going up to strangers and saying introducing yourself feels a little unnatural, and while there’s no magic bullet, there are a few things to keep in mind: If all you have to say is, “Hi there. My name is Bob” followed by silence, then don’t bother. You need to offer more. Have a few open-ended questions in your back pocket to stimulate some conversation, ideally ones that enable you to listen twice as much as you talk. “What brings you here this morning?” or “What’s keeping you busy these days?” are great open-ended questions. Don’t talk about yourself. Instead, ask the person you’re speaking to about themselves. Be the human being I prefer not to lead with a handshake or even, “My name is Lisa. I work with Barden. Barden is a recruitment company that works exclusively with the accounting and finance community in Ireland.” You’re there as a human being to meet other human beings, not as the manifestation of a business. You’re looking to make a human-to-human connection, not a business-to-business connection. Tonality and body language When making your first impression, you should be engaged, enthusiastic, curious and have supportive non-verbal action. Folded arms don’t convey support, for example. Non-verbal communication is key as what we say accounts for just 7% of communication. How we say it (or tonality) accounts for 38% of the overall message while body language (non-verbal communication) accounts for 55% of the overall message. Ask questions. Be excited. Ask for details. Don’t expect the other person to carry the conversation. Laugh (appropriately) and use that all-so-awesome secret weapon that we all have but often forget about: the simple smile. Smiling is the single most powerful thing you can do when you first meet new people. Research shows that people evaluate everyone they meet in terms of warmth and competence. And, of the two, guess which matters more? Yup, warmth. So, smile.  We all have the ability to be a good networker if we just take a few minutes to figure out the right way to connect with people and conquering our fear of doing it poorly. Listening skills, authenticity and warmth are all it takes.

May 01, 2019