Facing the future with confidence

Aug 03, 2018
Johnny McElhinney, the new President of Accounting Technicians Ireland, shares his plans for the next 12 months.

New President of Accounting Technicians Ireland, Johnny McElhinney, says he will work to further strengthen the currency of the MIATI designation through “hard” activities such as high-quality training, and “soft” activities such as member profiling. And with Brexit drawing closer to reality, Johnny has also pledged his strong support for the members of this all-island accountancy body who will be directly affected.
“Brexit is an ongoing concern for this Institute and its members,” says Johnny. “As President of Accounting Technicians Ireland, I plan to work with Accounting Technicians Ireland to ensure that our members are as well prepared as is possible for Brexit in whichever shape it comes.

“While Brexit is already impacting business, trade and customs, it is extremely difficult to plan for a future that is still so unclear. The countdown to Brexit is on, but the final landscape remains unknown. We will be working with our members in Northern Ireland and the border counties to gauge their concerns about Brexit and how it will impact their business and their clients,” he added. “We will bring key business groups on both sides of the border into the research, and we hope that the findings will be helpful to our members as they navigate the run-up to Brexit.”

A client-focused philosophy

As Managing Partner in a Dublin accountancy practice serving a long list of clients in professional services, construction, retail and healthcare, to name just a few, Johnny is acutely aware of the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) today. His firm is adjacent to the IFSC and his office offers a wide range of financial services with a client-focused philosophy.

“The practice was formed in 1961 by my grandfather, John M. McElhinney, and is one of the older established family firms of Chartered Accountants in Dublin,” says Johnny. “For three generations, the firm has been providing key services that include audit and accountancy, tax planning, advisory and company secretarial. We also provide specialty services in unquoted share valuation and litigation support.

“In my early career, I worked for several years in the banking sector before joining Murnane Nolan, a mid-sized practice, where I trained. I have gained a considerable range of experience from sole trader accounts to SME and plc audits to tax compliance and planning and corporate finance.”

Johnny completed his ATI exams in 1993 and is a Fellow of ATI since 2012. He is also a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland and a member of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland. He became Treasurer of the Dockland Business Forum in 2011, was Chair of the Leinster Society of Chartered Accountants in 2012/13 and, in 2014, was appointed as a member of the Audit Committee of Dublin City Council.

Johnny’s appointment as President of ATI caps an active association with the Institute. He was elected to the board of directors in 2016, and became vice-president last year. He also chairs the Member Services Committee, which meets regularly during the year, bringing together ATI’s four district society chairs, the chairs of its working groups and a number of staff members at ATI.

The currency of membership

Brexit, of course, is just one area of change facing the accounting technician profession. In direct response to a strong demand across its membership base for training opportunities in a changing world of work, one of ATI’s main focuses, as part of its Strategy 2020 plan, has been the continued development of its new CPD programme, which was launched in January of this year.

Members are required to complete 15 hours of CPD, with 15 hours provided free of charge. CPD hours are earned via online activities, face-to-face activities provided by ATI’s District Societies, and other relevant events such as ATI’s Annual Conference in November. “The launch of ATI’s mandatory CPD programme has brought Accounting Technicians Ireland on par with other accountancy professional bodies when it comes to providing top-quality training opportunities to the membership,” says Johnny. “This initiative has enhanced the value of membership for our 10,000 accounting technicians island-wide, from students to more established members and our growing cohorts of younger members who expect their representative body to provide career support and professional development opportunities.

“This programme represents a step change in the level of support and training provided to the membership and when you consider the need for almost constant training in today’s accountancy profession, its launch was timely too,” he adds. Our new Tech Working Group, chaired by Rosemarie Danaher, CFO at IBM, will no doubt influence our direction of travel.

“We introduced it as a pilot programme and are therefore seeking ongoing feedback from members in terms of programme quality, user experience and value. During my presidency, I will be working with Accounting Technicians Ireland to ensure that the feedback is heard, so that our members get the best possible value from the programme now and as their profession continues to advance.”

Cementing the brand

“ATI’s District Society network provides ATI members with regular, localised events which are tailored to their requirements. These don’t just provide for educational courses, but also social events which are equally important for our members’ business networking,” says Johnny. “Our working groups in industry, practice and the public sector are tasked with identifying key supports, including training, that would help members in their respective fields. Regular communication with these areas of business is vital to ATI as it continues to progress, thus improving our professional currency in the marketplace,” says Johnny.

“There is an excellent team involved and we are all just as driven and enthusiastic to drive ATI forward to ensure we maintain our competitive advantage, increase engagement with members and target tomorrow’s members too. We will continue to explore new ways of engaging with the membership and the Member Services Committee will help to ensure that we are delivering value to our existing and future members,” he adds.

The changing face of ATI

“ATI’s Strategy 2020 four-year plan is now in its second year and I intend to lead a review of the plan to ensure that we are keeping pace with our activity timeline, that ATI’s education and training is aligned with future skills requirements, and that we continue to increase the currency of professionally qualified Accounting Technicians across the island”, says Johnny.  

The demographics of ATI’s membership base are changing, partly due to enhancements in its delivery models such as apprenticeships in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the successful expansion of ATI Online, bringing accounting technician opportunities to wider numbers every year.

“We are seeing greater representation from younger cohorts among the membership, and we’re also seeing our more senior members aiming higher wherever they are working. ATI members regularly appear in the press and it is down to the excellence of the qualification they pursue, and the solid opportunities that this opens up, that their skills and competencies are recognised and rewarded in ever-growing fields.

“We are proud that those who have progressed to more senior roles want to maintain their affiliation with us and help us to grow the brand, both within the accountancy profession and the wider business and finance sector.

“ATI has committed to working closely with accounting market leaders and emerging technologies to ensure our ATI members remain at the forefront of their field.

“I would like to see our students and members receive further accolades within my time as president, and I will be working closely with the executive to explore a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring increased recognition for their career achievements.”