Confirmation doubles down on Irish market (Sponsored)

Feb 11, 2019
Confirmation’s appointment of Fergal McManus is a statement of intent for the firm’s future growth in Ireland.

Following its successful launch of a European data centre and strong user growth in 2018, Confirmation, now serving more than 180 accountancy practices in Ireland, has appointed Fergal McManus as Regional Account Manager for Ireland and the Channel Islands. In this role, Fergal will continue to cultivate the market, build the bank network and provide accountants in Ireland with a dedicated resource for all their audit needs.

The appointment is timely, according to Sandeep Shrestha, Confirmation’s Director of Sales for UK, Ireland and the Nordics. “We decided it was time to have someone who would own and develop this market and be totally dedicated to it,” he says. “Fergal is responsible for managing relationships with audit firms who are the primary users requesting confirmations through our secure platform. He will also manage relationships with responders such as banks, insurance companies and law firms, who are users of the platform as well. With thousands of requests to banks and other responders last year in Ireland, we knew it was time to devote more resources to growing and developing the market further. Fergal’s background in consulting and in banking makes him the ideal person to do it.”

A graduate of Ulster University, McManus worked in a variety of banking and accounting roles prior to joining Confirmation. “Over the years I worked in consulting and accounting roles for a range of global and Irish banks including AIB, HSBC, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank and National Australia Bank,” he notes. “I was working for PwC in the UK and Ireland for much of the time. Then the challenge with Confirmation arose. I was attracted by the opportunity to work in a high-growth market and help the Ireland industry embrace digitalisation and adapt to new technologies.”

The digital shift

The Irish market is very much ready to move to automated services like Confirmation’s secure platform, says McManus. “We have successfully signed major banks in Ireland to the network of more than 4,000 banks internationally who already use our platform,” he adds. “We will see a lot more usage of the platform in the year ahead with a strong increase in confirmation requests. These won’t just come from the large audit firms, but firms of all sizes. We are seeing tremendous opportunity and increased readiness to use digital technology in Ireland among the small to medium sized audit firms.”

The banks are changing too. “A key priority for the banks is digitalisation,” McManus continues. “They are using technologies like ours to remove paper processes. This has been increasing for the last several years and we have seen banks and other businesses adopt technologies like machine learning, data analytics, robotic automation and so on. The Confirmation service is part of that. Ireland is more than ready for digitalisation and there is a lot of innovation happening in the accounting and financial sectors. Enterprise Ireland is supporting that. The banks in Ireland are automating and it is a very good time to plug in Confirmation services to enable and ease the adoption of that.”

So far, the response to Confirmation has been positive. “We are getting more usage from audit firms of all sizes,” he adds. “They know we are solving pain points for them. I was an auditor myself. Each request can take a week to prepare and send, and between five and six weeks to get a response. Our platform brings this down to three to five working days – that’s a 75% to 80% efficiency gain. Auditors spend a lot of time sending letters and emails and waiting for responses. With Confirmation, they can use the time saved to devote to higher value activity.”

Security features

Security is another valuable feature of the Confirmation platform. “Anyone requesting information from anyone else needs to get it from someone authorised to give it – that will usually be the CFO or someone at that level. They have to rely on the letter or email making its way to the right person. That’s a very painful process. We have put an end to that pain-point. When you receive a confirmation with an electronic signature through the platform, it can only have been from the authorised person. Instead of optimistically hoping the letter lands on the right desk, you can be sure the confirmation request goes to the right person. That means there is less than a 1% chance of fraudulent behaviour on the platform.”

Requests to banks represent just one aspect of the service, according to Shrestha. “The platform can be used for a range of applications. It can be used to confirm debtor and creditor information along with accounts receivable and payable balances. A lot of Irish law firms also use the platform. As a part of the duty of a law firm, they can use Confirmation to check if any matters need to be disclosed that might affect the statutory audit and requests can be sent to law firms for this information. We’ve built the Confirmation platform with the goal of it being used for any information that requires secure confirmation.”

Prime price-point

“The overall benefits of the platform to accounting firms are quite unique,” summarises McManus. “Most software-as-a-service type applications are very expensive and only suited to larger organisations. Our pay as you go model means everyone can benefit, from the smallest to the largest firm.”

To find out more about the Confirmation secure digital confirmation platform, contact Fergal at www.eu.confirmation.com/fergal or by phone at +44 (0)20 3770 5450.