News

Cyberattacks have always been around, but recently they've been on the rise, especially when it comes to third-parties. What is the best way to safeguard your company against these risks? Pat Moran gives five practical steps on the best way to manage third-party cyber-security plans.Cyberattacks and data breaches are rarely out of the news, and when they do occur, they have wide-ranging impacts. In response to an ever-evolving cyberthreat landscape, many Irish firms have made significant investments to strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities. I’ve seen clients deploying new technologies, developing new capabilities, and implementing new security processes, all to increase the cyber-resilience of the organisation.However, focusing on what's inside your company is only part of the challenge. Any firm's security posture is only as strong as its weakest link. And very often, the weakest link exists outside your organisation.While it's not a new concept, more and more firms are engaging with third parties to reduce costs, enhance performance or avail of a specific skill set that they don't have. The term 'third party' can be used interchangeably with 'vendor', 'supplier', 'partner' or 'outsourced provider'. Regardless, they mean the same thing: an increased risk of cyberattacks for your organisation.The COVID-19 crisis has only reinforced how dependent most organisations are on an interconnected ecosystem of third parties to run their business. We've seen firms across all sectors struggling to get visibility on the resilience of their supply chain to ensure that the lights can be kept on. Suppliers are facing the same challenges of getting their workforce connected securely, adhering to security policies and maintaining a culture of cybersecurity awareness. All of this is against the backdrop of a heightened threat landscape. Opportunistic cyber-thieves are looking to take advantage of the uncertainty created by the crisis.When you're operating in an interconnected environment with third parties, the attack surface is expanded for cybercriminals to launch an attack.You can outsource almost everything but accountabilityPwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020 highlights that one in five respondents identified vendors and suppliers as the source of their most disruptive external fraud.  Half of the respondents lacked a mature third-party risk management programme and 21% had none at all. This highlights the size of the challenge faced by firms. And when a third party has an incident that impacts the security of your customers' data or impacts your ability to deliver a service, your customers don't see the distinction. You can't outsource accountability.To compound the matter further, all of the above is happening in the face of the pressures of reducing costs and improving efficiency, along with increased regulatory expectations.To navigate some of the above challenges, below are some practical steps your organisation can establish to manage the risk of cyberattacks caused by engaging with third parties.1. Establish your operating modelDeveloping your operating model and framework is the foundation of effective third-party risk management. The operating model should outline the governance and reporting requirements over your third parties, how to determine the criticality of each third party, and what technology can be leveraged. For mature or regulated entities, a centralised program likely already exists, but the security team should be active participants. For less mature organisations, the security team might be the driver.2. Identify your inventoryCreating a complete and accurate inventory of your third parties is a prerequisite for effective risk management of your supply chain, including your fourth and fifth parties (also referred to as chain outsourcing).3. Plan before you engageBefore you bring a prospective third party on board, invest time in understanding their security posture. Do they meet your minimum security expectations and standards? If not, do they have other mitigating plans or processes that will give your organisation more comfort?Not all products or services lend themselves to outsourcing, so make sure to develop a robust planning process, where assumptions can be challenged, to ensure that outsourcing or engaging a third party is not outside the risk tolerance of the firm. Security requirements should be baked into contracts and service level agreements.4. Monitor, monitor, and then monitor some moreThe most time- and resource-consuming activity is typically your ongoing monitoring and governance. The security team should be included in weekly or monthly operational meetings for critical third parties, and risk assessments should be performed at least once a year for all your third parties. Tooling and ratings services are now common on the market to support this.5. Exit gracefullyWith all the right intentions and robust processes in place, surprises still happen. Be prepared with a backup plan if services cannot be provided by a third party, or if you need to exit the arrangement with little notice.Pat Moran is a Partner in PwC.

Sep 11, 2020
News

The impact of COVID-19 has left many businesses across the Irish economy vulnerable and uncertain about their future. Tom O’Brien and Hilary Larkin say this may be the ‘calm before the storm’.We are seeing companies who are experiencing a decline in activity levels and have been sustaining themselves through this period by availing of the various supports which have been in place since the onset of the virus, such as the deferral of tax liabilities, bank forbearance measures, wage subsidies and rates freezes.These measures have greatly assisted many companies, but it is what happens when they are ultimately removed that is worrying. Many businesses are accumulating significant liabilities over this period and when these supports are removed and businesses have to stand on their own feet again, there will be capital difficulties and liquidity issues.Looking into examinershipDespite the negative outlook, there are options for those in financial distress. Given the prevailing trading conditions and the nature of the liquidity issues which will face many companies, examinership may be an appropriate restructuring option to consider. There will likely be an increase in the number of examinerships over the coming months and into next year as companies seek to come to terms with the new normal and address pent up liquidity issues. The COVID-19 situation may also have highlighted other areas that can be actioned as part of the examinership process, such as property arrangements that are now onerous or surplus to requirement.There are many advantages to the examinership process such as the company continuing to trade, jobs being maintained and preserved, and creditors faring better than they would if the company were placed into liquidation. It is, in many cases, a positive outcome for everyone concerned.Examinership is not only an option for larger companies. Companies that meet the definition of a small company are capable of availing of examinership through the Circuit Court. This process has not been availed of as widely as was expected when it was first introduced – maybe due to lack of awareness or perhaps a perceived stigma around the process – but, given the economic forecast, smaller companies will be more likely to avail of it going forward. LiquidationWhile many eligible companies will go down the examinership route and emerge ‘at the far side’ completely restructured and with appropriate working capital and funding to sustain themselves into the future, there will inevitably be others that are not viable and may have to look at liquidation. Examinership is not suitable for all businesses as some will be beyond saving. In these circumstances, it is important that directors and business owners move in a timely manner to protect all stakeholders – employees, creditors, banks, and the directors themselves.From a governance perspective, directors must be able to demonstrate that they have acted responsibly, showing that they have properly assessed the options open to them including taking independent legal and financial advice, formally recording meetings of directors and management and being careful not to expose creditors to further losses in the period preceding the liquidation. Obviously, great care should be taken with any payments from the business to ensure that issues of preferment do not arise.This is all very important as in the final analysis, the liquidator is required to review the conduct of the directors over the period leading up to the liquidation and report to the ODCE on this. Directors should be able to demonstrate that their conduct was responsible and appropriate in the circumstances.Stay positiveDespite all the negativity surrounding financial distress, it is also important to be positive and take the right steps. Banks have been very supportive and are willing to try and assist customers to restructure and get through this period. Companies should be encouraged to seek independent and competent advice as soon as possible. Don’t bury your head in the sand – talk to your bank in a proactive manner, and don’t leave things until you are really under pressure.Tom O’Brien is a Partner and Head of Advisory Services in Mazars.Hilary Larkin is a Partner in Financial Advisory in Mazars.

Sep 11, 2020
News

We all know a financial storm is headed our way, but how do we cope when it does hit us? Graham Reid gives us twelve steps that can be taken to navigate the perils of post-COVID economic recovery.After the storm comes rebuilding. And there’s a lot to do. COVID-19 has profoundly affected the norms of business across every industry and geography. From new ways of going to work (or not), long-lasting shifts in customer psychology and behaviour, and radically transformed operational networks and business portfolios, the world in the second half of 2020 is very different from the start of the year, for better as well as for worse.The only thing that’s certain about the recovery is that there’s still a huge amount of uncertainty about what form and how long it will take, with different countries – even different regions within countries – continuing to be impacted in different ways, and no certain cure for COVID-19 yet in sight. What should the working world expect from the pandemic recovery period? How is it best achieved? Outlined below are steps organisations and individuals need to take, not just to get back up and running, but also to become stronger and more resilient in the process.1. Reimagine and transformThe world is slowly adapting to the impact and waking from the nightmare of COVID-19. But getting back up and running requires more than just business as usual. It’s a two-geared process, a balancing act between transitioning safely into a new working world and taking steps to engage in the transformation of working conditions and practices that COVID-19 has unleashed. 2. Address client anxietyThe behaviour and decisions of consumers are what keep the business world ticking. But COVID-19 has dealt a massive – and potentially permanent – blow to the way they interact with businesses. As just one example, 44% of global consumers indicated they would be more likely to do grocery shopping online as a result of the pandemic. Firms looking to survive will understand this and will adapt accordingly. 3. Rethink the workplaceSome businesses have been able to opt to continue remote working practices for the foreseeable future, but for many others, a swift return to work is vital to remain financially viable. To do this safely for their staff and customers, organisations need to prioritise cooperation, communication and accountability, and supplement with cutting-edge technologies and working processes, including crowdsourcing, risk apps and collaboration platforms. 4. Maximize your people’s potentialConcern for the wellbeing of your workforce isn’t just about a duty of care – it's a business imperative. Led by an integrated Human Resources response, rebuilding will mean effectively engaging with the workforce, understanding and reacting to employee expectations of the care provided by employers and the ability to match workforce capability to financial and risk considerations. 5. Identify legal issuesEven if the worst of the crisis may seem to be over, with interim regulatory measures still in place in much of the world, the full aftermath is yet to hit. As the world moves on from the peak of the crisis, from cancelled contracts to employee class actions, COVID-19 is likely to leave a range of legal turmoil in its wake. Modelling potential outcomes, identifying potential risks, and capturing relevant data is critical for businesses looking to weather an anticipated storm of litigation. 6. Learn lessons from those a few weeks aheadWhen re-opening, it can be instructive to look at what has happened during reopening elsewhere – both in other industries and markets. China was the first country affected, and at the beginning of May, it became one of the first to re-open. Here we can look at key lessons from its experience, from assessing supply chains to preparing for future virus spikes. 7. Adapt operations, increase resilienceEven before COVID-19, business was facing pressure to act more responsibly, and the crisis will only accelerate that. As we look to an uncertain recovery, likely to be more saw-toothed than smooth, the pandemic presents us with a chance as much as a challenge. With such a significant economic and social impact, radical changes in how we operate are not just possible, but necessary. This is a chance to segue from a growth economy to a value-based one, prioritising long-term value and resilience and the needs of multiple stakeholders over short-term growth. Flexibility has always been a business advantage, but it will now be critical to survival. 8. Forecast more effectivelyMaking smart financial decisions post-COVID-19 is critical and, in such a radically changed world, only companies with effective forecasting and scenario planning strategies can do so with any confidence. However, in a webcast survey by EY, only 9.2% of respondents were very confident in these areas. 9. Adapt to shifting expectationsFor good or ill, what consumers expect of companies is changing. As we move from crisis to whatever comes next, businesses need to be ready to adapt to changing customer attitudes and needs: reshaping their portfolios for new business realities, creating new and responsive digital customer journeys, and taking the right steps to ensure transparency moving forwards. 10. Identify the right divestmentsIn the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, firms proactive about reviewing and strategically divesting their portfolio outperformed their peers. The same may well prove true of the COVID-19 aftermath. 11. Encourage inward investment in your regionCOVID-19 hit Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) hard. While 23% of investors surveyed indicated an intention to delay investment plans entirely, 51% expected minor delays in FDI plans. 12. Stabilise the economyReassuring and supporting individual customers in the immediate crisis is one thing, and something all businesses can work toward. But banks will have a particularly important role to play in the longer-term, post-crisis stabilisation of the global economy. Businesses will need to build close relationships with their banks to manage the inevitable risks of an uncertain environment and secure ongoing access to the capital that will be essential for their long-term recovery and growth.Graham Reid is Head of Markets in EY Ireland.

Sep 11, 2020
Brexit

It’s been a week of activity on the Brexit front. Debates over the UK’s Internal Market Bill, the eighth round of negotiations concluding in London, and the possibility of EU legal action against the UK have added pressure onto the fast approaching transition period deadline. In today’s bulletin, we analyse the key points of conflict between the Withdrawal Agreement and the UK’s Internal Market Bill, and how this would impact the future relationship between the EU and the UK. We also bring reports from London as the eighth round of Brexit negotiations concluded yesterday, chief negotiators on both sides have come out to say that significant divergences on essential areas of interest still remain. Withdrawal Agreement in jeopardy as UK releases Internal Market BillAs reported first by the Financial Times, the UK government has released their widely discussed Internal Market Bill, which has gained quite a bit of traction this week as the legislation that will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the Withdrawal Agreement" in areas such as State aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland. What is the Internal Market Bill, and why is it important?The UK Internal Market Bill (explanatory notes) is draft legislation on how the UK wants to manage trade within its borders and territories after Brexit. This Bill has caused major frenzy this week as it essentially “rewrites” parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed between the EU and the UK. The Bill covers key negotiation areas such as State aid, unfettered access to goods, spending power and devolution. However, two aspects of the Bill that affect Northern Ireland have caused much debate and commentary – State aid and customs. The Bill seeks to eliminate customs arrangements in Northern Ireland which could compromise the ability to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. The Bill would also give unilateral power to the UK government to change or disapply export rules for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  If implemented, this Bill would suggest that the EU would have little ability to influence State aid rules in the UK.  The UK government want to change rules to set aside EU law and ECJ law on State aid. Article 10 of the NI protocol sets out that EU State aid rules will apply in certain cases where relevant to trade in goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU.  The UK government is seeking to override this and instead ensure a uniform approach across the UK to the application of EU State aid law under the Protocol.The Internal Market Bill will be subject to debate and approval by both chambers of the UK parliament before it becomes law. The UK is however aiming to pass this Bill before the transition period deadline expires on 31 December 2020.  What about the Withdrawal Agreement? The Withdrawal Agreement as it is currently written says that the UK must notify the EU of any State aid decisions that would affect Northern Ireland’s goods market. It also says that special customs arrangements apply in Northern Ireland to protect the EU market. If implemented, the draft Bill would be in clear breach of several provisions contained within the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland not least the good faith provisions. The EU have stated that the Bill is in defiance of the stated aim of the Bill, which is ultimately to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement International reactionsIn a statement following the “extraordinary” meeting of the EU – UK Joint Committee, Maros Sefcovic, the EU Vice President in charge of overseeing the implementation of the divorce deal released a hard-hitting statement which calls on the UK government to withdraw the conflicting measures from the draft Bill in by the end of the month at the latest. They have also concluded the statement by indirectly warning the UK government of the possibility of legal action as per the mechanisms and legal remedies in place in the Withdrawal Agreement to address violations of legal actions. US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has also released a statement on Brexit & a potential US – UK trade agreement, stating that “if the UK violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US – UK trade agreement passing the (US) Congress”.  Round 8 of Brexit negotiations conclude as significant divergences remainThe eighth round of Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK concluded in London on Thursday 10 September. A full agenda of the discussion topics can be found here. With a hectic week on the Brexit front, chief negotiators on both sides have come out to say that significant divergences on essential areas of interest still remain. In a statement following the negotiations, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the EU is still missing concrete guarantees from the UK in areas such as fair competition, and on non-regression from social, environmental, labour and climate standards. He also warns that “nobody should underestimate the practical, economic and social consequences of a “no deal” scenario”. The statement also highlighted the importance of “mutual trust and confidence” in negotiating a future partnership.Mr Barnier’s UK counterpart David Frost has come spoken out in his own statement that the UK have made proposals in the areas of key divergence, that they believe to be “appropriate to a modern free trade agreement between sovereign and autonomous equals”. They also remain committed to reach the agreement by 15 October, as set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week.  Irish Government launches Brexit Readiness Action PlanThe Irish Government has launched the Brexit Readiness Action Plan, that sets out the steps that businesses and individuals need to take now to be ready for the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020. The Bill covers readiness measures at Governmental Level, and in key areas such as trade in goods, trade in services, connectivity, transport and north-south & east-west relations.The Government has also today published the General Scheme of the 2020 Brexit Omnibus Bill which is intended to address a wide range of complex issues that arise post transition period. The Bill will be considered by the Houses of the Oireachtas later this term. Prepare for no-deal Brexit immediately, say Chartered Accountants Ireland With all the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations, one thing businesses can be sure of; come 1 January 2021, the trading environment will be vastly different than the simplicity offered by the current EU Single Market. As per a latest press statement released by the Institute, businesses on the island of Ireland are being warned that given the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations, they have no option but to assume the EU and the UK will fail to reach agreement by the end of the year and to prepare accordingly.  We have outlined eight practical measures that businesses on the island of Ireland should adopt now:Register online with HMRC or Revenue for an EORI number – you cannot trade without one.Contact your suppliers and logistics providers about the continuity of goods and services you need for trade.Check if your non-UK suppliers use the UK as a land-bridge and ascertain whether this will cost and cause delaysClassify the goods that you import or export for customs duties and know their originSeek out a customs agent or enhance in house customs knowledgeEnsure that you have a line of credit to deal with the customs duties that will arise on imports from the UK or Ireland.Check whether your current certifications, licences or authorisations will be valid post-Brexit.Use the Government supports available.You can read more about the press coverage of this statement in our “In the Media” section of the newsletter. For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage

Sep 11, 2020
Public Policy

 In this week’s Public Policy news, read how Ireland has officially entered recession, how the new National Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy intends to move the focus from disposal to production, about two support schemes now available for Northern Ireland businesses, and how the EU plans to make a more resilient green and digital future Europe.Ireland enters recession following biggest quarterly drop ever recordedThe latest quarterly national accounts released by the Central Statistics Office this week showed that Ireland’s economy has officially entered recession. Ireland’s GDP has contracted by 6.1 percent during the second quarter of 2020. A recession is defined as the GDP contracting two quarters in a row. Consumer spending decreased by 19.6 percent, while industry and government spending increased by 7.5 percent.  Overall economic activity was partly offset by an increase of €37.8 billion in net exports of goods and services in Q2. The following sectors contracted significantly: Construction: 38.3 percentDistribution, transport, hotels and restaurants: 30.3 percentAgriculture, forestry and fishing: 60.6 percentArts and entertainment: 65.5 percentInformation and Communication: 1.5 percentMinister Finance Paschal Donohoe reportedly stated that there has been a strong pick-up in the third quarter of this year, according to indicators available to Government, and that Ireland compares favourably against the UK, eurozone and the US, where GDP declined by considerably more in the same period. Ireland publishes its Waste Action Plan for a Circular EconomyThe Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment last week published its Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy. The policy is part of a new National Waste Action Plan and aligns with the goals of the European Green Deal, which seeks to embed climate action in all strands of public policy. The policy contains over 200 measures across various waste areas, including the Circular Economy, Plastics and Packaging and Green Public Procurement, and its goal is to move the focus away from waste disposal and look at resources more broadly to maximise their value rather than disposing of them. The plan is also summarised in infographics, which describe key actions and targets for both individuals and businesses. Invest NI makes two new COVID-19 schemes available  Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds this week announced two new support schemes available to Northern Ireland businesses:£1million Digital Selling Capability Grant to help retailers and wholesalers better access consumer demand and grow online sales; and£5million Equity Investment Fund to help early stage and seed stage SMEs access finance.Both schemes opened for applications on 9 September. They are operated by Invest Northern Ireland, which is developing several new initiatives to help companies in the new business environment post-COVID-19.Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest NI, described SMEs as “the lifeblood of the Northern Ireland economy” and stated that the two new recovery schemes are “part of a range of solutions we are putting in place to help businesses progress recovery plans, strengthen supply chains, develop new products and access finance.”More information on Business Supports available for Northern Ireland can be found on the Chartered Accountants Ireland COVID-19 Hub, updated regularly. EU integrates strategic foresight into policymakingThe EU has published its strategy to integrate  foresight into policymaking. The aim of the strategy is to help understand future challenges and opportunities, to identify major trends, explore alternative futures and design forward-looking policies to make Europe more resilient, green, digital and fair in the future. It’s first annual report Strategic Foresight - Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe focuses on social and economic, geopolitical, green and digital resilience.  Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.

Sep 11, 2020
Professional Standards

Chartered Accountants Ireland is pleased to announce the publication of the draft AML Guidance for the accountancy sector.This is draft guidance pending approval from HM Treasury. This guidance is based on the law and regulations as of 10 January 2020 – this incorporates amendments required as a result of the UK’s transposition of the 5th Money Laundering Directive. A brief overview of the main changes is available here.

Sep 11, 2020
Public Policy

Businesses on the island of Ireland are being warned that given the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations, they have no option but to assume the EU and the UK will fail to reach agreement by the end of the year and to prepare accordingly.  As the latest round of negotiations continue in London, Chartered Accountants Ireland is urging negotiators to reach a sensible agreement that will save businesses across the island.  A recent survey of businesses carried out by the Institute shows that only one in ten businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland are ready for the changes Brexit will bring. Over half have some measures in place but plan to do more once the outcome of negotiations is known. Commenting, Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “The wait and see approach could prove detrimental for many businesses on the island, which are struggling with the devastating effects of COVID-19. Pandemic aside, Brexit needs to be top of their agenda for the next few weeks to ensure their survival. There are relatively straightforward things that must be done now to start preparations regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.“It is hard to believe that it has been over four years since the Brexit vote and with just weeks to go until the end of the transition period, the UK and EU remain without some form of agreement.  A no-deal Brexit will bring hazardous trading conditions and supply chain disruption for businesses north and south. We are calling on negotiators on both sides to provide some sort of assurance to enterprises about the future trading landscape.”Trade under a free trade agreement might eliminate customs duties but it in no way removes the compliance and administrative burden that customs declarations and checks will bring. Research by the Institute has shown that for most sectors, this disruption is an even greater concern than customs duties themselves with almost half of businesses stating they do not fully understand the customs declarations that will be required to trade goods between Ireland and the UK come 1 January 2021.  Ms Clohisey continued:“Even in the best-case scenario, if the UK and EU reach some sort of agreement on trade, there isn’t time for it to be the comprehensive free trade deal that was hailed during the Brexit referendum– that process takes months even years to arrive at.  The best we can expect is the bare bones of a deal which will likely prioritise avoiding the imposition of tariffs and quotas on goods and is unlikely to extend fully to services.”The practical measures that businesses should now adopt include:Register online with HMRC or Revenue for an EORI number – you cannot trade without one.  Contact your suppliers and logistics providers about the continuity of goods and services you need for trade.Check if your non-UK suppliers use the UK as a land-bridge and ascertain whether this will cost and cause delaysClassify the goods that you import or export for customs duties and know their originSeek out a customs agent or enhance in house customs knowledge Ensure that you have a line of credit to deal with the customs duties that will arise on imports from the UK or Ireland.Check whether your current certifications, licences or authorisations will be valid post-Brexit.Use the government supports available.With all the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations, one thing businesses can be sure of; come 1 January 2021, the trading environment will be vastly different than the simplicity offered by the current Single Market. ENDSNotes to editorsTo move goods into or out of the EU you need an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number.  Therefore Irish and UK traders who trade with each other will need to apply for an EORI number. HMRC and Revenue use this number to identify you and collect duty on your goods. The number is also used when traders interact with customs authorities in any EU Member State.In Ireland, you can register for an EORI number on Revenue’s EORI online registration service through My Account or ROS. In the UK, you can apply online to get an EORI number on gov.uk.

Sep 10, 2020
Press release

The average salary package (including such elements as base salary, pension scheme, health insurance) for a Chartered Accountant in Leinster remains steady at €109,989, a marginal decrease from €112,582 last year. The survey of more than 1,000 Chartered Accountants, published today by Chartered Accountants Leinster Society in partnership with Barden, Ireland’s leading partner led expert recruitment firm, and in association with Coyne Research provides the most up-to-date guide to Chartered Accountant salaries and employment prospects in the Leinster region.While overall salary packages have remained steady for the majority, the survey, conducted during August, reveals some evidence of pay cuts among employees – just over 1 in 10 claim to have had their salary reduced as a result of COVID-19, over half of whom had their salary reduced by more than 10%. Almost 4 in 5 say they their employers have been “good” or “very good” in adapting to working from home arrangements. At the same time, many employees working from home have felt an increase in workload, with almost 1 in 2 reporting working longer hours than when they were office-based.  Overall, the resilience of the profession comes across among respondents, demonstrating the importance of a strong accountancy function in organisations at a time of such uncertainty. Only 18% of respondents are “quite” or “very” concerned about job security at the moment. The annual survey also highlights the importance of other types of remuneration to members. Over half of respondents (51%) say they had the ability to work from home before COVID-19, while 49% say they could avail of flexible working arrangements (including flexitime and time in lieu). 85% report having a pension scheme and, of those, employers contribute to 91% of them. Just over half receive health insurance as an employment benefit. Key findings include:84% of respondents place value on work / life balance or flexible working arrangements, and would sacrifice between 5% and 10% of their wages for a better work life balance or to have flexible working arrangements.  (86% in 2019.)56% of respondents say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their work / life balance. (62% in 2019.)82% of Chartered Accountants have received a salary increase within the last three years (85% in 2019), with 3 in 10 of members obtaining an increase of over 25%. 51% of respondents have been promoted in the last three years. (51% in 2019.)22% have moved to a new job in the last 12 months, on par with last year.  25% believe the market for Chartered Accountants is buoyant (85% in 2019). 36% believe the market is contracting (5% in 2019).  Commenting on the findings, Áine Crotty, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society, said: “The 2020 Leinster Society salary survey shows that pay remains consistent for Chartered Accountants in this unprecedented and challenging time. It is reassuring to see that many members are satisfied in how their employers shifted to remote working and flexible working arrangements, which is key as we head into the future and deal with the realities of COVID-19.“This survey gives employer firms, recruiters and those who may be considering a career in Chartered Accountancy a reliable insight into the profession. Chartered Accountants Ireland offers a range of flexible entry-routes into the profession so that students can work and learn in a way that best meets their individual needs, which is increasingly important in the current environment.”Elaine Brady, Managing Partner, Barden, said: “We are delighted to partner once again with the Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society annual salary survey. For us in Barden it’s absolutely critical for us to be able to provide our clients with cutting edge insights on reward so that they in turn can make informed strategic decisions on talent attraction and retention and managing their teams.“The insights gained from this survey, especially at this challenging and uncertain time for Irish business, will help to drive key decisions especially when it comes to businesses and their teams. It is very positive to see that in the main remuneration remains consistent, however at this stage it is difficult to see the true impact of this pandemic on Irish business. Another positive outcome of the survey is the excellent flexibility amongst employers, who in the main have been quick to adapt and facilitate their teams working remotely, which no doubt will shape the future of how we work.”Bernadette Coyne, Managing Director at Coyne Research, said: “This survey highlights the fact that the average pay has remained similar to last year’s survey, however we see some members having their pay cut since the onset of COVID-19. While most members say their company transitioned well to working from home arrangements, this has to be taken in the context of many having to work more hours at home than they would have in the office.” Where Chartered Accountants WorkThe survey highlights the wide range of industries and sectors that Chartered Accountants work in. Of the 15% of respondents employed in practice, 47% work in a Big 4 practice and 53% in a Non-Big 4 practice. 83% of those working in practice are in a Manager or Director role.The majority of those who do not work in practice are currently working in financial services at 25%. Respondents also work in IT & Telco (14%), Government and Public Sector / Education (9%), Construction and Property (7%), and many other sectors including manufacturing, not-for-profit / charities, food industry and more. Of those not employed in practice, 37% work for companies that are a subsidiary of a foreign-owned multinational compared to a private Irish company (28%) or the business unit of an Irish plc (12%). Most respondents surveyed work in Dublin (82%).  ENDS Notes to editorsThis survey of more than 1,000 Chartered Accountants was conducted by Coyne Research on behalf of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society and Barden between 12 August – 27 August 2020.  Chartered Accountants Leinster Society is a district society of Chartered Accountants Ireland, representing 13,586 Chartered Accountants throughout Leinster.  Barden is a partner led expert recruitment firm consumed with supporting companies that really know the value of their people. Barden’s expertise covers Accounting, Finance, Tax, Legal and Financial Services recruitment. Our people are trained/qualified in their specialist areas, and our approach is consultative not transactional. Barden has proudly partnered with the Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society, for the last 3 years, to bring you the annual salary survey. Over the next 3 years Barden will also be working closely with Chartered Accountants Student Society of Ireland (CASSI) to make sure their members get access to the right information, at the right time so when they qualify they can make the right decisions about their professional future.

Sep 10, 2020

A huge portion of the global population has adapted to working from home (WFH). Initially, the main concern for employers was productivity, but now as WFH has been extended, a bigger risk is employee burnout. For many, working from home has been thrust upon us and not a choice, so adapting quickly was essential. Employees who have chosen to work from home are usually good at separating their work from personal life and have a dedicated space. As WFH is likely to be extended, it is important to know and understand the risks and avoid burnout.Our knowledge economy ensures we are constantly connected, and keeping healthy boundaries between professional and personal life can be a real challenge. Emails are often sent late at night just to finalise or meet a deadline. This can have a trickle effect and other employees then feel it necessary to show similar dedication and productivity. Another consideration is colleagues often feel compelled to respond to emails sent outside normal office hours straight away, even though it may not be urgent.  If you have been feeling exhausted, disconnected, finding yourself procrastinating, and feel less effective in your job you could be suffering from burnout. Combining our work and personal life constantly is not good for our mental health. How do we ensure we protect ourselves and our colleagues? How can we leave our work at the door if we no longer walk out that door to work? The best way to do this is to create some boundaries. We have five tips to help you WFH successfully:1. Keep physical and social boundariesWhen going into work there are certain physical actions you do like putting on work clothes, catching the bus, or a train to work, these are indicators that help you switch into work mode. You may be happy not to have your daily commute, particularly if the weather is bad outside, but these signals are important for our brain. Try taking a short daily walk in the morning as your commute and dress comfortably but do try and wear some work clothes and not your usual casual wear for home. This will help you transition from “home you” to “work you”.2. Maintain a structure which worksSticking to the usual 9 – 5 pm structure may not be realistic for you, particularly in the current pandemic, you may have additional responsibilities e.g. a child at home or an elderly parent to check in on. Be honest with your employer and agree to a structure that works for both of you and stick to those hours. Employers and supervisors need to take a flexible approach to the working week to achieve the best productivity and a happier workforce.3. Prioritise your workloadEmployees working from home can sometimes lose sight of this basic time-management principle. Instead, they focus on productivity and demonstrating to others they have been very busy. Draw the focus back on work ,,and prioritise your workload. Do the important stuff first. Block out time appropriately if possible, it will make you more productive.4. Stay connectedIf you were working on-site, team communication is relatively easy, but we need to find a way to keep that connectivity so use the tools available to make it work. A team that remains connected it more motivated, driven, and productive.5. Celebrate your winsPaige Cohan from Harvard Business Review recommends that at the end of each day you celebrate your wins. Working from home is challenging, so by acknowledging what has been achieved it will focus your mind and help to motivate you.  Take a look at her at her short video  If you found this article interesting Noel O’Callaghan FCA and a qualified psychotherapist gives some insight into how to deal with burnout.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie 

Sep 10, 2020

Developments of interest this week are outlined. ROIThe Central Bank has published the fourth edition of the Credit Union PRISM Supervisory Commentary Report. The purpose of this Report is to inform all credit unions on the nature and type of risks identified during Central Bank 2019 supervisory engagements, and related supervisory expectations in addressing such issues. UKThe FRC has this week published a draft UK Endorsement Criteria Assessment on the IASB’s amendment Interest Rate Benchmark Reform—Phase 2 (Amendments to IFRS 9, IAS 39, IFRS 7, IFRS 4 and IFRS 16) (the Amendments).The FRC's Financial Reporting Lab is inviting investors and companies to participate in a new project on corporate disclosures on risks, uncertainties and scenarios.  An independent inquiry into public sector auditing has recommended a shake-up of the sector, with a new regulatory body to oversee local authority audit and the introduction of a standardised statement of services and costs. Sir Tony Redmond’s review into the effectiveness of external audit and transparency of financial reporting in local authorities was set up last June and has now published its final report.EuropeanThe August 2020 edition of the EFRAG Update, summarising public technical discussions held and decisions taken during that month, has been published.The European Securities & Markets Authority (ESMA) September newsletter has just been issued.Accountancy Europe have released the second blog of their COVID-19 sustainable recovery series. 

Sep 10, 2020
Professional Standards

Our Individual Annual Return 2020 is available for completion online.  Please ensure it is submitted by 30 October 2020.Click here for your Individual Annual Return.

Sep 08, 2020
Tax

Nine peer review reports have been published by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The reports assess compliance with the international standard on transparency and exchange of information (EOIR).  Some highlights from the reports include that Papua New Guinea, undergoing its first full peer review, was rated Largely Compliant, as were Chile, China, Gibraltar, Greece, Korea and Uruguay. Malta was issued a Partially Compliant rating and Anguilla was deemed Non-Compliant. For more information and to read the reports visit the OECD tax centre.  

Sep 07, 2020
Tax

Read the NI Tax Committee’s response to one of the most important consultations for many years in which HMRC explores potential options to regulate the UK tax profession. The key message of the Committee is that there should be no further regulation of qualified agents who are members of Professional Bodies with a strong, effective, and active regulatory function, such as members of Chartered Accountants Ireland.The Committee also made the following recommendations: -Under option A (which examines the potential for better use of HMRC’s powers), the Committee recommends that this is the option which should be pursued. HMRC should target rogue promoters more effectively with the comprehensive powers which they already have available to them after a review has been conducted of the collective efficiency of their use by HMRC – the Committee recommends that this review is conducted by Sir Amyas Morse; Further digitisation of the tax system should aim to remove administrative obstacles and unnecessary complexities for taxpayers but should be carried out in tandem with a defined roadmap for simplification of the UK tax system; and  The Office of Tax Simplification should be tasked with carrying out a review of income tax complexity in particular given the proposed extension of MTD to income tax from April 2023.  

Sep 07, 2020
Tax

Last month we told you about the Brexit Trader Support Service which HMRC and the Government announced when it published further guidance for businesses on the Northern Ireland Protocol last month. The service is expected to launch in late September once the tender process has been completed. In the meantime, traders who wish use the service can sign up for further information. Signing up now does not commit a business to using the service but will mean, once the tendering process is completed, that interested businesses can be quickly contacted.According to HMRC, the guidance underlines the UK’s commitment to “unfettered access for NI goods to the rest of the UK, and to minimising burdens on business”. The Trader Support Service is being designed to provide an end-to-end service which will guide traders through all import processes at no additional cost. This is a unique intervention, backed by £200 million in Government funding and is designed to ensure that businesses of all sizes can draw on the support it provides.More information has been received from HMRC as follows:-The Trader Support Service (“TSS”) is a free service, available to all traders moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and importing goods into Northern Ireland from the rest of the world;Initially traders will be able to register with the service and receive support and guidance on what the Protocol means for them. This will include the steps they need to take to comply with them;Traders will also be supported to understand the information they will need to collect about their goods, including their description, value and any supporting documentation required; The service will then use this information to complete import and safety and security declarations on behalf of traders. Where a trader uses the TSS to complete these they will not need to access HMRC systems, such as CDS or ICS, themselves; andFor traders who already engage with customs systems, or who wish to undertake any necessary procedures separately, guidance on the requirements are detailed further in the guidance.

Sep 07, 2020
Tax

HMRC’s CJRS guidance has been updated in the last two weeks.  The updates are set out as follows:Page title Change All pages A notification that the rules are changing again from 1 September added into the call out box for each page.   If you’ve claimed too much/ not enough Adjustment to wording around when you need to pay grant money back to HMRC to emphasise employers must do this if they are unable to or aren't planning to use the money to pay their employees' wages, tax and National Insurance and pension contributions Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back Adjustment to wording around when you need to pay grant money back to HMRC to emphasise employers must do this if they are unable to or aren't planning to use the money to pay their employees' wages, tax and National Insurance and pension contributions  HMRC has also advised that currently there is no deadline for CJRS claims in respect of the period 1 – 31 July. 

Sep 07, 2020
Tax

HMRC has advised that it will be shortly be undertaking scheduled maintenance to HMRC’s various online services including Making Tax Digital for VAT and Income Tax Self-Assessment. This will take place between from 5pm, Friday 11 September until 9am, Monday 14 September. During this period, all MTD for VAT services will be unavailable, including:Agent service subscription;Agent authorisation;Submission of returns;Business tax account view and change;Direct debit; and Sign-up service. During this period, all MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment services will be unavailable, including:  Agent service subscription;Agent authorisation; Submission of updated and returns;Sign up; andBusiness tax account viewer. This and other planned maintenance and upgrade activities are shown on the HMRC service availability and issues page on GOV.UK. HMRC is not making changes to individual MTD services over this period, so they will not look different or have any new functionality when they are returned on 14 September. HMRC apologises for any inconvenience this may cause.

Sep 07, 2020
Tax

Following on from the amended legislation for the loan charge which received Royal Assent in July, HMRC has now published further guidance for anyone affected by the changes to the legislation. If your clients have outstanding disguised remuneration loans that are subject to the Loan Charge, they must report the details of their loans by 30‌‌ September 2020.HMRC are also holding an online webinar this week on 9 September which you can book onto now.The further guidance contains information on how refunds of voluntary payments (known as voluntary restitution) will be calculated and further details of the application process. Information on next steps for employers are also included.  If any of your clients are affected by the changes, HMRC recommends that you review the latest information and discuss with your clients any actions they may need to take. If you have any further questions around the refund application process, then please get in touch with the HMRC helpline number 03000 534 226 or email HMRC on ca.loancharge@hmrc.gov.uk.The full HMRC message is as follows:-“We would like to draw your attention to the most recent set of updates available on GOV‌.UK in relation to the Loan Charge. If any individuals have disguised remuneration loans that are subject to the Loan Charge, the deadline to report the details of their loans is approaching. These loans must be reported to us by 30‌‌ September 2020 using the online form on GOV‌.UK. Anyone who wants to spread their disguised remuneration loan balances evenly across the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 tax years also needs to do so by 30‌‌ September 2020. They can do this using the same online form.To provide customers with more support, HMRC has published further information on the Loan Charge policy and how we support customers with tax debts.Refunding voluntary payments made in disguised remuneration settlements As a result of the recommendations in the Independent Loan Charge Review, certain voluntary payments (‘voluntary restitution’) made as part of a disguised remuneration settlement with HMRC can be refunded. We have published guidance about which voluntary payments can be refunded.August 2020 disguised remuneration settlement terms We have now published the new settlement terms for disguised remuneration loans not subject to the Loan Charge. If any of your clients would like to settle under these terms, please contact us using the details within the guidance. Further help and support     Anyone subject to the Loan Charge who thinks they may have difficulties paying what they owe, should contact us. We want to help people to pay what they owe by working with them to agree an affordable payment plan.Those with concerns can call us on 03000 599110, speak to their usual contact, or email ca.loancharge@hmrc.gov.uk.”The following publications are also relevant:-Update on the implementation of the loan chargeHMRC issue briefing: disguised remuneration charge on loansDisguised remuneration: settling your tax affairsDisguised remuneration settlement terms 2020November 2017 disguised remuneration settlement termsDetails of a new Spotlight published by the GAAR Advisory Panel sets out their opinion in respect of a tax avoidance arrangement that rewarded a director through a remuneration trust. 

Sep 07, 2020
Public Policy

Businesses are every bit as concerned as EU negotiators about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, according to a survey carried out by Chartered Accountants Ireland of respondents working across all industries on the island of Ireland. Only 1 in 5 expect an EU/UK trade agreement to be reached by 31 December. These findings come as negotiations resume in London today.  Despite mounting concern, the focus of respondents across manufacturing, retail, wholesale, transport, logistics and professional services has been forced away from Brexit as they deal with COVID-19. Fewer than 1 in 10 are fully prepared for Brexit and just over 1 in 10 understand the changes that it will bring to their sector. A larger number (37 percent) have some understanding but need further clarity on the official guidance.  Regardless of whether a trade agreement is reached, customs administration will be imposed on exporters and importers north and south and beyond these shores, and survey responses again indicated a knowledge gap when it comes to customs paperwork. Almost half of those surveyed by Chartered Accountants Ireland do not fully understand the customs declarations that will be required to trade goods between Ireland and the UK come 1 January 2021.   Commenting, Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said: “As the parties return to the negotiating table, there is an overall air of negativity from officials and from the businesses that we have surveyed. One thing that is certain is that businesses are going to have to deal with customs administration. For many years, the EU has been a safe haven for Irish and UK businesses trading with each other, meaning little need for customs paperwork and declarations. As a result, much of the customs expertise on the island of Ireland has effectively disappeared. “Customs administration is going to cost businesses. This cost emerged as a significant concern for the businesses we surveyed, ranking second, behind staff costs and ahead of customs duties, as the biggest challenge in managing business costs in the next six months.”  Recent months have seen unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 and approximately 1 in 4 say that their focus has been unavoidably diverted from Brexit as a result.  A little over a third have progressed as far as hiring a customs agent or formally invested in building their own customs knowledge, leaving over 6 in 10 as yet unprepared for these new administrative requirements.  Ms Clohisey continued: “The businesses that will have to deal with customs administration are the same businesses struggling with the effects of COVID-19.  It is critical for the survival of these businesses that goods get to where they need to go and on time. To do this, there is an urgent need for companies and businesses to invest in the people needed to prepare and file customs returns. That work needs to begin immediately so that businesses are ready to trade when the Brexit transition period ends.”  To help bridge this knowledge gap, Chartered Accountants Ireland recently launched a Certificate in Customs and Trade to train traders and advisers to navigate the new customs regime that Brexit will bring.  

Sep 07, 2020
Public Policy

 In today's Public Policy news, read about how the eurozone countries are recording negative inflation for the first time in four years, how €15m is being made available in low-cost loans for microenterprises in Ireland and how UK pension providers will have to report on climate change financial risks or face penalty.Europe's inflation may lead to more ECB stimulusThe current economic recession in the eurozone may result in a bigger and longer-lasting fall in consumer prices. This is according to reports by EU's Eurostat data agency that inflation in the 19 Eurozone countries turned negative for the first time since May 2016, falling to -0.2 percent in August. Underlying inflation also plummeted, defying analysts’ expectations, reportedly fuelling speculation by some economists that the European Central Bank (ECB) is preparing to inject even more stimulus in the European economy than the historic amounts it has already put in place. It also puts even more pressure on governments to increase public spending to restore consumer demand. ECB policymakers next meet on 10 September. Tánaiste makes €15 million available to low-cost loan scheme for microenterprisesTánaiste Leo Varadkar announced last week that Microfinance Ireland has opened its new €15 million COVID-19 fund to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty and to protect jobs that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic here. Small businesses can apply for loans up to €25,000 for a three-year term with no repayments and no interest due for the first six months of the loan. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees and turnover of up to €2 million can avail of the low-cost loans under the Microfinance Ireland Covid-19 Loan Fund Scheme. The Tánaiste said: “This Fund has proven to be a lifeline for micro-enterprises over the past few months, where we’ve seen nearly 700 businesses with fewer than ten employees avail of it.”Up to 31 July 2020, up to 683 businesses had availed of the €18.6 million sanctioned under the Covid-19 Loan scheme, with €18.6 million sanctioned. Further information is available via Microfinance Ireland.UK pension providers to report on climate change financial risks The UK government last week published a consultation on a proposal designed to ensure pension providers consider the risk of climate change on their investments. Under the proposal, larger occupational pension schemes and authorised schemes will have to publish climate risk disclosures by the end of 2022.  Smaller schemes would have to meet the requirements by end 2023.Under the proposals, some schemes would have to use the taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures (TCFD) framework for these disclosures, and must demonstrate that effective governance, strategy, risk management are in place.   Schemes would also have to conduct ‘scheme scenarios’ to test temperature scenarios for the scheme’s assets, will need to report the greenhouse gas emissions of their portfolio, and will be required to publish their report on a website and to notify pension scheme members, or risk receiving a mandatory penalty imposed by The Pensions Regulator.Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: ‘‘These measures will ensure pension schemes are in an ideal position to drive change to a sustainable, low carbon economy which will benefit everyone.” The consultation is open until 7 October, with a consultation on regulations planned for late 2020 or early 2021.Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.

Sep 07, 2020
Tax

“Worried and disappointed.” The words used by EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier following the end informal talks in London with his UK counterpart, David Frost. Today’s Brexit Bulletin covers his comments on the UK’s reluctance to engage with the EU on key issues such as fisheries, State aid and dispute resolution. We also bring reports this morning that the UK plans to override some elements of the Withdrawal Agreement.    “No trade agreement with the UK without credible framework on level-playing field and fisheries”, says Michel Barnier  Following the end informal talks in London with his UK counterpart, David Frost, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has stated that he has not seen any change in the UK’s position, and is “worried and disappointed”. Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), Mr Barnier said there was a “huge difference” between reaching a deal or no deal. A no deal would mean customs duties, declarations, and tariffs.    In his statement, Mr Barnier outlined three major tasks of negotiation for this year: Negotiating the EU-UK future partnership Implementing the Withdrawal Agreement Getting ready for changes at the end of the transition period  The EU, Mr Barnier said, wants “a close partnership with the UK, provided the conditions are right. This is in everybody's interest. And in Ireland's interest in particular.”   With his statement tailored specifically to address the impact of Brexit in Ireland and Northern Ireland, he referred solely to unique aspects such as:  Peace and stability Application of Union Customs Code Sanitary checks on plant and animal products   Speaking on a trade agreement Mr Barnier reiterated his position that there will be no trade agreement between the EU and UK without a credible framework on the elements of a level playing field and fisheries.   Addressing the future of the services sector He has deemed the services sector to be hugely important, and an area where the difference between a deal or no-deal will be felt the most. He also stated that a large part of the services negotiation (with the exception of financial services) will be covered if the EU is successful in striking a deal with the UK.  On the chance of a no-deal Brexit Mr Barnier confirmed that his informal talks with Mr Frost were from a position of openness to lead to compromise. However, given the UK’s current position, he strongly believes that there remains a risk of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October 2020.   Both the EU and UK negotiators are set to meet again for the resumption of formal negotiations in London starting tomorrow –Tuesday 8 September 2020.  Take a look at the full agenda here.Withdrawal Agreement in jeopardy? The Financial Times has reported that the UK is planning to release legislation this week that will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement" in areas such as State aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.   Eliminating customs arrangements in Northern Ireland could compromise the ability to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.  The Withdrawal agreement as it is currently written says that the UK must notify the EU of any State aid decisions that would affect Northern Ireland’s goods market.  This new proposed legislation would suggest that the EU would have little ability to influence State aid rules in the UK.  There are numerous reports that the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson will say that if no agreement is reached by 15 October, both sides should "move on". We will keep members updated.  EU TAXUD release guidance on how to prepare for the end of transition period To assist businesses in effectively preparing for Brexit during the transition period, the European Commission has released a compilation of guidance in the area of tax and customs. We have summarised a list of them below. Relevant updated sector-specific stakeholder notices for readiness  Excise duties Value added tax (VAT) – goods Value added tax (VAT) – services  Customs including preferential origin Annex 1 – Business Transit Scenarios Annex 2 – Business Export Scenarios  Guide and handy checklist for businesses conducting any sort of trade with the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period Guide for businesses Brexit Checklist for traders Ireland’s national Brexit contact points Websites: Revenue (Brexit) | Enterprise Ireland | Gov.ie (Getting Ireland Brexit Ready) Email: brexitqueries@revenue.ie   For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage.  

Sep 07, 2020