North West Society News

Press release

31 January self-assessment filing deadline comes as further severe COVID-19 restrictions are implemented across UK A one-off, one-month extension to deadline would help industry to cope in these emergency times – Institute  7 January 2021 – Chartered Accountants Ireland has written to Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt. Hon Rishi Sunak MP, requesting that the government responds to the deteriorating COVID-19 situation by extending the tax deadline approaching for businesses at the end of the month. Chartered Accountants Ireland has over 4,500 members across Northern Ireland, and circa 2,500 members in GB who continue to be at the forefront of helping businesses navigate Government supports introduced as a result of COVID-19.  The pandemic has put increasing pressure on businesses in meeting regulatory and reporting obligations due to workplace health and safety requirements, staff resourcing, illness and childcare/caring constraints and the challenges of social distancing.  Chartered Accountants Ireland has been engaging with HMRC officials since last September, to highlight the difficulties businesses and accountants are experiencing in meeting the forthcoming self-assessment filing deadline of 31 January. Commenting, President of Chartered Accountants Ireland, Paul Henry said “The rampant nature of the virus in recent weeks necessitating a further severe lockdown in all regions of the UK introduces insurmountable obstacles to self-assessed businesses and individuals in their efforts to meet the forthcoming 2019/20 self-assessment filing deadline on 31 January 2021. “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the swift implementation of the Government’s practical COVID-19 support measures has provided considerable support to businesses and taxpayers. It is crucial that businesses continue to be supported now that the situation has evolved so considerably in recent days and weeks.”  Chartered Accountants Ireland highlighted to the Chancellor that the regulatory workload of businesses is already at least two months behind normal schedules due to the national lockdown in 2020 and further restrictions across the various regions introduced from October onwards.  Henry continued “Although accountants will make every effort to ensure that as many tax returns as possible are filed on time for businesses, due to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, there will be instances where it is just not practically possible to make the deadline.  “A short once-off extension of one month to the self-assessment deadline would help ease the pressures on businesses who have the necessary information for the preparation of their return but cannot safely provide this to their accountant due to the ongoing public health restrictions.”  ENDS

Jan 07, 2021

About Irina Irina Yotova started out with a degree in Hospitality Management, and worked for several years in senior operations roles in a number of large hotels. Budgets and numbers became a part of these roles and a part she really loved. She trained as an Accounting Technician while working, and soon decided she wouldn't stop there. Irina has recently become our 29,000th member and is delighted with her career choice. We recently chatted with her to find out more about her journey and her advice for others considering making a change. Background and journey I completed a degree in Hospitality Management and spent over 10 years in various roles in hospitality operations and senior management. This gave me the opportunity to engage with finance, including setting annual budgets,  weekly forecasts and analysing and managing actual results. These financial areas became important parts of my daily duties which I have to admit I really enjoyed! I have always had a keen interest and love for numbers, having excelled at maths in high school. So with this passion and my growing experience at work, I joined the cluster finance team which at that time was responsible for the finance and accounting of five hotels.  Production of monthly management and financial set of accounts and cost control were only a fraction of my duties, at which point I felt that pursuing a career in accounting is what I wanted to do. I became an Accounting Technician within a year and at that stage, I knew that becoming a Chartered Accountant was my next goal, so embarked on the Flexible Route. I chose the Flexible Route as it suited my personal and professional life as a mature student. My job involved travel within the island, which prevented me from attending lectures at times. The online materials, the support available to all students and the professional network I created helped me achieve my goal – becoming a Chartered accountant.   What the next years may hold  I currently work as an Auditor at the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, responsible for carrying out value for money examinations of various government departments and offices and report the results in annual chapters and special reports.  I joined the Office when I commenced studying for my Chartered Accountancy qualification.  Given the fact that the world is changing at such a rapid pace nowadays, who knows where I will be in the next five years.  A lesson learnt from the pandemic is that now, more than ever, we need to be adaptable, to embrace change and to think and act quickly. I see myself continuing to progress my career in the OCAG and I am enjoying the endless opportunities the Chartered Accountancy qualification presents me with. I would like to study again at some stage in the future.  What advice would you give to someone considering accountancy? I won’t lie. It was not easy – but no one said it would be… The rewards and opportunities that go with the Chartered qualification are endless. If I had to do it again, I would not think twice.  It’s worth the effort. What are your top tips on studying and exams that you would give to future students? Take your time and do not stress. Try to stay on top of all subjects. It's easy to focus on the subjects we like most, so be careful not to neglect others. Good preparation and planning are the keys to success. Make sure to find time to enjoy yourself and do not give up on your hobbies while you are studying. Keep your eye on the prize! As Sills once said “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going". What skills from your former qualification and experience have helped you along the way? My hospitality management roles and qualification taught me organisational skills, leadership, open-mindedness, prioritisation and delivery of results. These are all fundamental in accountancy too, of course, so I feel lucky to have taken the journey I did.  Every type of experience is always an asset.  I think having worked with such a wide variety of people allowed me to gain a broad spectrum of experience in many aspects and broadened my business acumen. 

Jan 06, 2021
Careers Development

The annual “Chartered Star” prize has been jointly awarded to two entrants from Co. Donegal and Co. Down by Chartered Accountants Ireland. The decision reflected the high calibre of entrants this year, and both winners will now go on to represent the Irish chartered accountancy profession at the ‘One Young World’ conference in Munich next July. The winners are Aisling McCaffrey, Associate Director with Grant Thornton and Dr Caroline McGroary, Assistant Professor of Accounting in Dublin City University (DCU).  The ‘Chartered Star’ award recognises exceptional achievement amongst young and trainee accountants around the island of Ireland. Each year, it is awarded to someone who will lead, motivate, and inspire as they build their career. In 2020, entrants were challenged to demonstrate to the judging panel the ways in which they are making a difference and working towards, or supporting, the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Paul Henry, President, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “My heartiest congratulations to both winners. It is in all our hands to create a strong and sustainable accountancy profession into the future and Aisling and Caroline’s achievements at a still relatively early stage in their careers are to be commended. I look forward to following their achievements in the coming years, and on behalf of the Institute I wish them success in their engagements in Munich in July. We are fortunate as a profession to be so ably represented on a global stage.” Aisling McCaffrey, Associate Director with Grant Thornton is originally from Holywood, Co. Down and works in Dublin. A member of the FinBiz2030 Irish taskforce, she is also a NextGen committee member for 100 Women in Finance, a global network of professionals in finance working together to empower women at every stage of their career. Sport also plays a huge role in her life. A tag rugby player, she has represented Ireland in two World Cups and is a World Cup silver medal winner.  Her work to support the Sustainable Development Goals is focused on achieving gender equality (SDG 5) and empowering women and girls, as well as climate action (SDG 13). She currently acts as project manager for the team responsible for the creation of the Green Team Network – a forum for connection and empowering change towards a sustainable environment within the Irish Funds Industry. In Grant Thornton, she sits on an internal ESG working group through which she promotes sustainable activity across the firm. Aisling commented “I feel really proud and humbled to have been awarded Chartered Star for 2020/21 by Chartered Accountants Ireland. My qualification has provided me with technical knowledge and skills that I have been able to utilise in all aspects of my life and I am delighted to be representing the profession on an international stage at the One Young World Summit. I am really excited to collaborate with other young leaders at the summit who are passionate about making a social impact and finding effective solutions to global issues.” Fellow winner, Caroline McGroary, originally from Donegal, is an Assistant Professor of Accounting with DCU. Before joining DCU she trained as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte. Over the last seven years she has worked between Ireland and Saudi Arabia through a partnership between DCU and Princess Norah University (PNU), the largest female only university in the world. Caroline particularly impressed the judging panel with an initiative she developed to help women at risk of financial exclusion in Saudi Arabia. The initiative, which was supported at governmental level, had a social media campaign which reached over 1 million users, was nominated for a number of awards and was presented at international conferences. Her work to support the UN SDGs is focused on SDG 4 Quality Education and SDG 5 Gender Equality by improving the financial literacy levels of students; educating students about the UN SDGs; empowering them to help achieve the goals through community engagement; while her PhD research is centered around professional education. In addition, Caroline promotes the UN SDGs in the business community in Saudi Arabia and Ireland, and was a founding member of the Irish Business Network - Saudi Arabia. Caroline commented “This is an award that I am immensely proud to hold and I look forward to representing the profession at the One Young World Summit in Munich, in 2021. I hope to use this summit as a platform to meet with leaders and activists from all over the world, and to identify ways in which we can work together to achieve impact. I'm also looking forward to working with the FinBiz2030 taskforce, whose aim is to mobilise the finance and business community globally to help achieve the UN SDGs.” ENDS  About Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Accountants Ireland is Ireland’s leading professional accountancy body, representing 28,500 influential members around the world and educating 7,000 students. The Institute aims to create opportunities for members and students, and ethical, sustainable prosperity for society. An all-island body, Chartered Accountants Ireland was established by Royal Charter in 1888 and now has members in more than 90 countries. It is a founding member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, the international network of over one million chartered accountants. It also plays key roles in the Global Accounting Alliance, Accountancy Europe and the International Federation of Accountants.  About One Young World: One Young World is an international conference that brings together inspiring young people from 190+ countries that are committed to making a difference. The summit will take place in Munich in July 2021. One Young World provides a platform for young leaders to speak alongside Presidents, Nobel Prize Winners, Global business leaders and other inspiring global leaders. Delegates are an international cohort, sharing their impactful work, personal experiences, views and opinions with around 1,300 Summit attendees and an audience watching around the world.

Dec 22, 2020
Tax UK

Chartered Accountants Ireland recently wrote to Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, TD, highlighting the need to simplify tax compliance on current and future wage supports.  The Institute noted the continued importance to businesses of wage supports in 2021 but called for the associated compliance on the supports to be simplified given the fact that rigorous eligibility criteria and checks are already in place.  The Institute’s letter sets out that tax compliance attaching to wage supports requires a substantial amount of time and management by businesses and their accountants. This is in addition to all other tax compliance obligations of a business operating in difficult circumstances due to the disruption caused by COVID-19.   The recent changes to the eligibility test for the EWSS will be challenging for businesses and the Institute called for a transitional measure to be put in place to help businesses with a legitimate expectation that they qualified for the support up to March 2021. 

Dec 21, 2020

Commenting Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “While it is positive to see the EU-UK Joint Committee reach an agreement in principle, the promise of the adoption and implementation of this agreement before the end of the Brexit transition period could be a “red herring” for businesses. The absence of an implementation mechanism does not give businesses adequate time to understand and prepare for the changes before they come into effect on 1 January 2021.    “This will make matters more complicated for traders and businesses, particularly those depending on the finer technical details of the agreement, and their practical application.    “These technical details need to be made available as soon as possible. We are still facing the prospect of a no deal Brexit, but technical detail on today’s agreement would go a long way to providing some reassurance to businesses.”  ENDS For more information Jill Farrelly MPRII Tel: 087 738 6608 PR and Communications Manager

Dec 09, 2020

We were delighted to catch up with Marie-Claire McDonnell, who is now based in Toronto with her family. As you will read, it wasn’t a smooth start but she has some really good, practical advice for new arrivals or those thinking of making the move. In 2019, we launched a Chapter Network Group for members in Toronto, which Marie-Claire heads up, so anyone in the area should certainly reach out!  Tell us about your journey as a Chartered Accountant and how you ended up settling in Toronto?  I trained in EY Dublin in the ICT department (Industrial, Commercial and Technology) and qualified in 2008.  Similar to many in my intake, I took a year out to travel mostly Asia, Australia and New Zealand. I came back to Ireland in the latter part of 2009 worked for three years as Associate Director, Finance in Depfa Bank. It was at Depfa I met my now husband, Cormac, and we decided to move to Canada. At the time it was easy to get a one year working holiday visa, and we chose to live in Toronto as we both had financial services experience and Toronto is a Financial Services hub.  I found it hard to settle in Toronto if I am completely honest, it did take me about a year. We came in September 2012, when the bad weather starts. We knew no one here and I really had to put myself out there to make friends. It takes a few months to get work here also, so I took on temp admin roles to keep myself occupied at the start. I remember asking myself a few times as I was doing data entry for eight hours a day: “did we make a huge mistake?” But we hung tight and both secured great roles by December 2012. I took a maternity cover contract in a pension fund called OMERS ($109 billion in net investment assets in 2019), where I was Senior Financial Analyst in Finance for Venture and Strategic investments. Once I was there four months, they made me permanent and I stayed for three and a half years before I made the move to recruitment. I now recruit qualified accountants in non-financial services industries with Robert Walters Canada, and have a special soft spot for helping the Irish ACAs who have just arrived in Toronto.  What have been the advantages of being an ACA in Toronto? The Irish ACA designation is very well respected in Toronto, and Irish ACAs have a reputation for being extremely hard workers. Employers like the training Irish ACAs get in Ireland. A lot of the time the ACAs from practice have had exposure to audit of large multinationals and are technically strong as a result.  The ACA designation opens so many doors here. Another huge benefit of the ACA designation is that it is a profession which you are almost guaranteed to secure permanent residency with. What advice would you give to members going to Toronto today? Be prepared to have to wait to get a good role and have savings to keep you going for three to four months. Toronto is an expensive city and sometimes it can take a while to get a good role. As you have no credit history in Canada, you might need to pay a few months rent up front. It is important to be prepared for this. I would also encourage people to be open. Contract work is your friend in Toronto, it is a foot in the door of a good company, or it is Canadian experience to secure your next role. Look at contract work with an open mind: what experience will I have after this role to open doors for me? Be confident and put yourself out there. Toronto is a city built on networks. Be prepared to cold message people (maybe Irish ACAs here) and ask them for a chat/coffee/Zoom call. I know so many people here who have secured work by networking. Irish people do try to help each other in Toronto as much as possible which is fantastic. How has lockdown been in Toronto for you? I am sure like everyone, I can say it has been very challenging. We had a difficult few months in that we welcomed our second daughter, Isla, in May in the middle of lockdown. Isla unfortunately was born critically ill with meningitis. Our family were all in Ireland and they were so worried about us over here. Managing their worry on top of our own was difficult. My husband and I did not see Isla together until she was discharged from hospital a month later as only one caregiver could be in the hospital at a time. Daycare was closed so we had to find care for our two-year-old daughter Aoibhinn. COVID just made a terrible situation 10 times worse if that was possible! However, in the midst of the difficulty, the kindness and selflessness of our friends was unbelievable. Our close circle of friends here rallied around, staying overnight with us, minding our eldest daughter, taking our dog, cooking for us, driving us to the hospital and back, cleaning and just being here for a shoulder to cry on when you technically cannot touch people outside your family.  They put themselves at risk being with us as we were in hospital every day.  Lockdown was probably one of the worst times of my life but we really learned how amazing and supportive our friends are here. Thankfully little Isla is a trooper and has made a full recovery.   What will Christmas mean for you this year?   We are actually travelling to Ireland for Christmas for five weeks. We are very lucky to have a house to quarantine in Killarney. My brother is getting married at the end of December and we wanted to take our little miracle baby Isla home to meet her family in Ireland. It will not be the same as years before, but we are content to just be at home with our families. I am also very excited for some grandparent babysitting so I can hopefully squeeze in a few shopping trips! Marie-Claire McDonnell is a Finance and Recruiting Specialist with Robert Walters and also is a point of contact for the Toronto Chapter and would love to hear from any members in the Toronto area. Similarly, members looking to reach out can contact Gillian Duffy - District and Global Member Manager.

Dec 02, 2020

With international tax reform progressing at unprecedented speed, Susan Kilty explains why Irish businesses must continue to participate actively in the discussion. With all the global uncertainty that Ireland is facing due to COVID-19 and Brexit, there is a risk that the OECD global tax reforms – the other major threat to Irish business and the economy – will be pushed further down the corporate agenda. But to do so would be very risky. Ireland must engage with this process now, at both the political and corporate level. The world of international tax is in a state of extreme flux as governments grapple with changes in the way multinationals do business. It is worth reiterating that Ireland has attracted healthy levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) over the past 30 years, and the multinational community has contributed significantly to our economic success. According to the OECD, Ireland received more foreign direct investment in the first half of this year than any other country. Along with Ireland’s near-iconic 12.5% tax rate, a crucial element in our continuing ability to attract international investment is the stability and transparency of the corporate tax regime here. Investors from abroad who establish activities in Ireland tend to be quite sensitive to changes in the taxation system. They like certainty and stability in a tax code, which is why Ireland presents such an attractive proposition. Ireland cannot afford to lose FDI as a result of turbulence in the global tax landscape at this time. As corporation tax accounts for almost 18% of Ireland’s total tax take, any change to the regime threatens to seriously undermine the attractiveness of our FDI model and negatively impact our revenue-raising ability. The crux of the matter is that we, and many other countries, apply 20th century tax systems to 21st century e-commerce business models. Businesses have an increasingly digital presence, and many no longer trade out of brick and mortar locations. This is not limited to so-called technology companies, but can be seen across industries and in businesses of all sizes. Businesses sell freely across borders without ever needing to set up operations abroad. This new digital way of trading is not always captured in our analogue tax rules, and the rules must be realigned with the reality of modern e-commerce. However, to tax a multinational business, you need a multinational set of rules. This is where the OECD comes in, but the uncertain shape that the new rules might take brings more uncertainty for businesses at a time when it is least needed. Many clients cite the changing international tax environment as one of the top threats to potential revenue growth. And although countries now face enormous bills for COVID-19, one sure thing is that BEPS, OECD and tax reform will not go away. International corporate tax reform is happening, and it will impact many businesses and our economy. Companies need to stay on top of these changes and prioritise the issues that will affect them. OECD proposals The OECD proposals offer a two-pillar solution: one pillar to re-allocate taxing rights and ensure that profits are recorded where sales take place, and a second pillar to ensure that a minimum tax rate is paid. At the time of writing, a public consultation is open for stakeholders to share their views with the OECD on the proposals that were recently summarised by way of two “blueprint” documents, one for each pillar. Pillar One seeks to give market jurisdictions increased taxing rights (and, therefore, increased taxable income and revenues). It aims to attribute a portion of the profits of certain multinational groups to the jurisdictions in which their customers are based. It does this by introducing a new formulaic allocation mechanism for profits while ensuring that limited risk distributors take a fair share of profits. Several questions remain as to how the Pillar One proposals, which constitute a significant change from the current rules, will be applied. Pillar Two, on the other hand, seeks to impose a floor for minimum tax rates across the globe. This proposal is very complicated. It is much more than a case of setting a minimum rate of tax. It is made up partially of a system that requires shareholders of companies that pay low or no tax to “tax back” the profits to ensure that they are subject to a minimum rate. At the same time, rules will apply to ensure that payments made to related parties in low-tax-paying or no-tax-paying countries are subject to a withholding tax. Finally, it can alter the application of double tax treaty relief for companies in low-tax-paying or no-tax-paying countries. Agreeing on the application and implementation of this pillar will be incredibly difficult from a global consensus point of view. Several supposed “safety nets” in Pillar Two are also likely to be of limited application. For example, assuming that the minimum tax rate is set at 12.5%, this does not mean that businesses subject to tax in Ireland will escape further tax. Similarly, assuming that the US GILTI (global intangible low-taxed income) rules are grandfathered in the OECD’s proposal, this does not mean that the US GILTI tax applies as a tax-in-kind tax for Pillar Two purposes. Pillar Two poses a significant threat to Ireland, as it reduces the competitiveness of our 12.5% rate to attract FDI and, coupled with the Pillar One profit re-allocations, could reduce our corporate tax take. The OECD estimates that once one or both of the pillars are introduced, companies will pay more tax overall at a global level, but where this tax falls is up for negotiation – and this is why early engagement by all stakeholders is critical. While the new proposals will undoubtedly have an impact, it is not certain that Ireland’s corporation tax receipts will fall off a cliff. Ireland has already gained significantly in terms of investment from the first phase of OECD tax reform, and this has helped to drive a significant increase in corporate tax revenue. But the risks must nevertheless be addressed. There is, of course, the risk that the redistribution of tax under the rules directly under Pillar One and indirectly via Pillar Two will impact our corporate tax take. But even if the rules have no impact on a company’s tax bill, they could still impose a considerable burden from an administrative perspective, and the complexity of the rules cannot be overestimated. At a time when businesses are grappling with other tax changes, led by the EU and domestic policy changes, this would be a substantial additional burden on the business community. The OECD is progressing the rules at unprecedented speed in terms of international tax reform. The momentum behind the process comes from a political desire for a fair tax system that works for modern business. However, does this rapidity risk the international political process marching ahead of the technical tax work? This is where Ireland, both government and corporate, needs to play a vital role. While the consultation period on both pillars is open, the focus for stakeholders should be on consulting with the OECD on the technical elements of its plan. Considering the OECD’s stated objective to have a political consensus by mid-2021, this could be one of the last opportunities for stakeholders to have a say in writing the rules. The interplay between the OECD and the US Treasury cannot be ignored when considering the OECD’s ability to get the proposals over the line. The US Treasury decided to step away from the consultation process with the OECD for a period in mid-2020. This, of course, raised questions around whether the OECD proposals could generate a solution that countries would be willing to implement. Added to this, the OECD has always positioned Pillar One and Pillar Two as an overall package of measures and has stressed that one pillar would not be able to move forward without the other. The “nothing is decided until everything is decided” basis of moving forward is a risky move, but the OECD recently rowed back on this stance. If the OECD fails to reach a political consensus by 2021, we could very well see the EU act ‘en bloc’ to introduce a tax on companies with “digital” activities. This could result in differing rules within, and outside of, the EU. It would also increase global trade tensions, all of which would not be good for our competitiveness. As a small open economy, Ireland will always be susceptible to any barriers to global trade. A multilateral deal brokered by the OECD therefore remains the best option – the last thing we want to see is the EU accelerating its own tax reform or, worse still, countries taking unilateral action. For the Irish Government, providing certainty where possible about the future direction of tax is critical. Where we have a lead is in how we provide that stability and guidance where we can. The upcoming Corporate Tax Roadmap from the Department of Finance will be an opportunity to give assurances in these uncertain times. Next steps for business The public consultation will be critical for businesses to have their say in shaping the rules. Ireland Inc. must continue to engage constructively with the OECD to try to shape the outcome so that we maintain a corporate tax system that is fit for purpose, is at the forefront of global standards, and works for businesses located here. Doing so would ensure that we articulate the position of small open economies like our own. Each impacted business must take the opportunity to comment on the proposals, as this may be the last chance to have a say. Indeed, what comes out of the consultation period may be the architecture of the rules for the future. We know that difficult decisions must be made at home and abroad in terms of the new tax landscape, and made with additional pressures we could not have foreseen 12 months ago. Although it may seem that much is out of our control, Irish businesses must continue to participate actively in the discussions and ensure that their concerns are heard. The game may be in the final quarter, but the ball is in our hands. Susan Kilty is a Partner at PwC Ireland and leads the firm’s tax practice. Point of view: Fergal O'Brien Since the start of the BEPS process in 2013, Irish business has recognised the importance of the work to our business model and the country’s future prosperity. At its core, BEPS has seen a further alignment of business substance and tax structures at a global level. This has resulted in an often under-appreciated surge in business investment, quality job creation and, ultimately, higher tax revenue for the Irish State. With its strong history as a successful location for foreign direct investment, and substance in world-class manufacturing and international services, Ireland was well-placed to benefit from the new global order. The boom in business investment, which last year reached over €3 billion every week, and increase in the corporate tax yield from €4 billion in 2013 to €11 billion in 2019, are evidence of the further embedding of business substance in the Irish economy. The current round of BEPS negotiations will have further significant implications for the Irish economy, and particularly for the rapidly growing digital economy. Ibec is working directly with the OECD to ensure that any further changes to corporation tax recognise the central role of business substance and locations of real value creation. Fergal O’Brien is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Ibec.  Point of view: Norah Collender The OECD’s proposals to address the challenges of the digitalised economy will have a disproportionate negative impact on small, open exporter economies like Ireland. Earlier consultation papers issued by the OECD on taxing the digitalised economy suggested that smaller economies could benefit from international tax reform emanating from the OECD. However, the OECD now openly admits that bigger countries stand to benefit from its proposals more than smaller countries, and the carrot has turned into the stick in terms of what will happen if smaller countries do not support the OECD. Ireland is acutely aware of the dangers ahead if countries take unilateral action to achieve their vision of international tax reform. But that does not mean that countries like Ireland should be rushed into accepting international tax rules that fundamentally hamstring Irish taxing rights. Genuine consensus must be reached to ensure that international tax reform is sustainable in the long-term. Likewise, the new tax rules must be manageable from the multinational’s perspective and from the perspective of the tax authority tasked with administrating the rules. A rushed outcome to the important work of the OECD will make for tax laws that participating countries, tax authorities, and the all-important taxpayer may not be able to withstand in the long-term. Norah Collender is Professional Tax Leader at Chartered Accountants Ireland. Point of view: Seamus Coffey How Pillar One and Pillar Two of the OECD BEPS Project will ultimately impact Ireland is uncertain. One sure thing, however, is that there will be changes to tax payments. This will be a combination of a change in the location of where taxes are paid and perhaps also an increase in tax payments in some instances. But there will likely be both winners and losers. From an Irish perspective, there might have been some comfort in that the loser could have been the residual claimant – the country at the end of the chain that gets to claim taxing rights on the profits left after other countries have made their claim. As US companies are the largest source of Irish corporation tax revenue, it might have been felt that most of the losses would fall on the US. However, significant amounts of intellectual property have been on-shored here. Ireland, therefore, has become a residual claimant for the taxing rights to some of the profits of these companies. At present, Ireland is not collecting significant taxes from these profits as capital allowances are claimed. If BEPS results in a significant reallocation of these profits, we might never collect much tax on them. Seamus Coffey is a lecturer in the Department of Economics in University College Cork and former Chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Dec 01, 2020

The government has recently announced details of a new support scheme for businesses, but it has limitations that need to be addressed. Paul Dillon outlines the role Chartered Accountants must play to raise awareness of these limitations. Details of the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), announced as part of Budget 2021, were recently published by Revenue and registration for the scheme has officially opened. By offering a support of up to €5,000 per week, the scheme will be very valuable to businesses impacted by Government health and safety restrictions. However, the biggest hurdle for businesses will be meeting the many terms and conditions necessary to qualify. To begin with, the guidance issued by Revenue is over 45 pages long. While detailed guidance is always helpful, the length of the guidance speaks volumes about the complexity of the scheme. Further, it piles more paperwork on businesses already struggling to stay on top of the demands of operating under lockdown conditions. These same businesses continue to grapple with paperwork for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) by having to respond to compliance check letters and reconciliations for Revenue, which all 66,000 employers who benefited from the scheme must prepare. The CRSS is only available to businesses operating from premises that restricts customers from access due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means that the scheme benefits retailers, restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues, but it cannot be accessed by the many suppliers of these businesses, even though these suppliers are equally impacted by the negative effects of the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions. For example, wholesalers supplying to restaurants, pubs and hotels do not qualify for the CRSS under the current terms of the scheme. Sound engineers who supply their services to the live entertainment sector do not qualify for this subsidy, and all the businesses who provide services to theatres and shows are also excluded from CRSS. Mobile businesses not tied to a fixed premise are also precluded from accessing the scheme. This includes taxis and businesses operated from stalls, such as markets or trade fairs. It is puzzling why the Government has chosen to exclude these businesses from qualifying for the CRSS, especially given the fact that on Budget Day, Minister Donohoe said, “The scheme is designed to assist those businesses whose trade has been significantly impacted or temporarily closed as a result of the restrictions as set out in the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ Plan.” This messaging gave hope to many businesses; however, those hopes were dashed when further details revealed the condition that only businesses operating from a fixed premises with restricted customer access could benefit from the scheme. As Government restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 are likely to be a feature of life in Ireland in 2021, it is essential that proper supports are in place to help all businesses impacted by the restrictions, like the wholesalers and businesses supplying services to restaurants and hotels. The CRSS will be a lifeline to many businesses and its only fair that the scheme should apply to all businesses impacted. While Government has demonstrated a willingness to revise and refine supports, like the TWSS, it is only when the issues are brought into the public domain by informed commentary. That is why, as Chartered Accountants, we have a role to play in raising awareness of the limitations of the CRSS and lobbying for change. Paul Dillon is Deputy Chair of the Tax Committee South of the CCAB-I and Taxation Partner in Duignan Carthy O'Neill.

Nov 20, 2020

How can we make sense of a seemingly random event like the COVID-19 pandemic? Tom Armstrong talks about coping and the critical role of human support and interaction in helping us navigate the road to recovery. We are now close to one year on from the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Asia, and the negative impact of this random event is more evident than ever. People feel less safe, less in control, more vulnerable, less confident, and more anxious than before. Those suffering most may be asking why now, and why me? A recent read of Ronnie Janoff-Bulman’s book, Shattered Assumptions, compelled me to fully consider the impact of random events like COVID-19, where so much of the immediate impact is negative. It is difficult to say where this pandemic lies on the trauma scale. Many people have had little impact on physical health, work, and mental wellbeing. However, many others have been affected through the loss of loved ones, loss of livelihood, having to put life progression on hold, and general anxiety about the state of the world. How can those who have suffered cope? I think we can divide coping into some broad areas. Self-help Create a routine, eat well, take regular exercise, maintain a journal, spend time in nature, spend less time looking at mobile devices, watch a good movie, meditate, sing, start a new hobby or make a simple daily plan. These things are within our control and are good for our wellbeing, regardless of the degree to which COVID-19 has impacted us. Interpretation of events Our interpretation of life events is shaped by our life experience and tends to be the result of unconscious processes. However, over time and through reflection, we can work on the meaning of events. While not deluding ourselves, we can reframe events. This work enables us to incorporate, and make meaning of, what has happened in our world. For example, maybe this crisis has given us time to spend more time with family, really listen to the opinions of those we differ with, hear the birds sing, or appreciate the flowers in full bloom. Maybe, because of this pandemic, we’re learning to be more considerate, appreciate the simple things in life, and be grateful for what we have. Take action Taking our own actions is important to give ourselves a sense of control and the feeling of agency over our lives. While our ability to take specific actions may be restricted right now, there are still many areas of our lives where we can make our own choices – calling a friend, getting up early, going for a walk/run and so on. In time, our feeling of freedom to take more action will return. Support This is a two-way street where we can both receive and give support. It is a dynamic process. What does this support look like? It can be material support, such as money or services, or it can be information support – tools and advice about resources that are available to help a person in need. Equally, it can simply take the form of listening, empathising, accepting, and valuing another person. Because we are fundamentally social beings, social support is critical for our sense of self-worth. Social support is positively associated with psychological wellbeing and mental health. We all can offer support and a supportive environment to those who need it. The road ahead There will be a return to more ‘normal’ times when social restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, we all have the choice to support and help each other as we navigate the current challenges and seek to reach the other side safely. We may get bruised along the way, but when it’s over, we will have survived and through our actions and experience, we can be wiser, stronger and more human. Tom Armstrong is an Executive Coach, Facilitator, Mentor and Chartered Accountant.

Nov 13, 2020
Press release

80 per cent of accountants do not feel fully equipped yet to deal with sustainability as a business case  74 per cent of accountants feel a responsibility in relation to sustainability Sustainability “Hub” launched alongside practical guide at Climate Finance Week event Friday 6 November 2020 – Chartered Accountants Ireland has today launched a guide to help accountants upskill to deal with sustainability as a business case. 80 per cent of accountants surveyed by the Institute report that they are not yet fully equipped with the skills to drive sustainability in their own organisation or to advise clients as to their requirements. Encouragingly, however, 60 per cent say that sustainability forms a key part of their organisation's business strategy. The Institute’s new guide, “Sustainability for Accountants” is accompanied by a dedicated sustainability “Hub” on its website, with resources to equip accountants. These resources were launched at an event today as part of Climate Finance Week. Commenting, Susan Rossney, sustainability expert at Chartered Accountants Ireland said “Sustainability has transformed from “nice to have” to become a key pillar of the business case for companies. Businesses can no longer avoid adopting a long-term sustainable strategy, particularly as government and policymakers have started a pioneering legislative push towards a more sustainable economy. Colleagues working in other areas of business, such as HR have long embraced sustainability in all its forms, and this laser focus is now also required in finance and accounting functions. “Accountants are uniquely placed to drive sustainability from within organisations as advisers. They make critical financial decisions daily about purchasing, procurement and many other things and the information they provide is vital to wider decision-making. From this position of influence comes opportunity and responsibility. The guide, “Sustainability for Accountants” details the risks and opportunities presented by sustainability, and details steps that need to be taken to address the challenges. It also shares best practice examples of success and describes how organisations can transition to operating sustainably, successfully and cost-effectively. The Sustainability Hub provides practical information, guidance and supports to help members. The Institute has previously used this ‘hub’ approach to gathering resources to support members to significant effect in relation to both Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. Rossney continued “Our objective today in the publication of this guide and the launch of our Sustainability Hub is to empower accountants in all sectors of industry to lead change, by giving them practical, easily accessible resources. It is evident from engaging with accountants that there is concern about the risks presented by ESG issues for their business and the businesses they advise, and our objective is to help them to meet this challenge. “Sustainability is already in the DNA of our student body, as it is part of our education syllabus, but for those who have already moved further along their career path, these resources and those that will follow in due course represent an opportunity to upskill.” To download the guide, click here Sustainability for Accountants ENDS  About Chartered Accountants Ireland Chartered Accountants Ireland is Ireland’s leading professional accountancy body, representing 28,500 influential members around the world and educating 7,000 students. The Institute aims to create opportunities for members and students, and ethical, sustainable prosperity for society. An all-island body, Chartered Accountants Ireland was established by Royal Charter in 1888 and now has members in more than 90 countries. It is a founding member of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, the international network of over one million chartered accountants. It also plays key roles in the Global Accounting Alliance, Accountancy Europe and the International Federation of Accountants.

Nov 06, 2020

With cybersecurity an increasing concern for companies, how can organisations keep on top of cyber controls? By investing in three things – people, processes, and technology – companies can develop robust cyber resilience, says Colm McDonnell. Cybersecurity has been a priority for boards for several years. It has come into sharper focus recently, however, as COVID-19 forced a digital transformation whereby teams – and often entire organisations – now work remotely. According to the Deloitte Future of Cyber Survey, 49% of C-level executives say that cybersecurity is on the board agenda at least once a quarter. And so, companies are turning their focus to cyber risk management at an organisational and national level. You can see how the focus has developed over the years in how industry regulators have approached cyber risk management – the introduction of GDPR and the Network Information Security (NIS) Directive, which focuses on cybersecurity controls and resilience, are just two examples. Recent global events have accelerated many companies’ digital transformation journeys to facilitate increased remote working and online transactions. Digital transformation can be extremely effective for businesses, but it comes with its own risks. Organisations may struggle to prioritise risk if they have not settled on a specific framework and governance model, or if different areas of the business use different frameworks to assess and report cyber risk. Several cyber risk frameworks have been developed over the years, and it is common to see organisations utilise elements of one or more frameworks to support their cyber risk objectives. The following common areas of focus are key to successfully managing cyber risk: Obtain buy-in from the top for the cyber programme. Irrespective of the framework(s) chosen, develop a common risk taxonomy that facilitates open and transparent reporting. Understand what matters most by identifying the organisation’s crown jewels (i.e. its systems and processes). This can help you focus on what is truly important and needs to be protected. Understand the threat landscape and how it might disrupt the confidentiality, integrity or availability of these assets. Identify your stakeholders. Is there an external compliance element that needs to be addressed? Cyberattacks can result in direct revenue loss, loss of customer trust, regulatory fines, and a fall in a company’s share price. Develop and deploy preventative and detective controls to support the management of cyber risks. Test the effectiveness of these controls and periodically review the threat landscape. Develop and frequently test your response plans to ensure your organisation can recover critical assets in the event of an attack. It is impossible to provide 100% assurance on cyber controls, but preparing your organisational response (people, process and technology) to an adverse cyber event and focusing on your core services are crucial steps to developing cyber resilience. Colm McDonnell is Head of Risk Advisory in Deloitte.

Nov 06, 2020
Press release

DCC has been named the Overall Winner of the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society Published Accounts Awards 2020. It was also awarded winner in the ‘Company listed on a foreign market’ category.  The Published Accounts Awards celebrate the best in Irish corporate reporting in companies, state bodies and charitable organisations, large and small throughout Ireland. Now in their 43rd year, the awards, sponsored by Euronext, takes place virtually for the first time today with guest MC Síle Seoige.  The judging panel noted that reports using clear language, that was precise and explained complex accounting and reporting issues without jargon, scored highly. The judges also urged that changes in regulation and accounting standards should not result in longer reports and were happy to see that there had been a reduction in the average number of pages in the Annual Report amongst entrants.  Chairman of Chartered Accountants Leinster Society, Áine Crotty said: “It is extremely encouraging to see the calibre of reporting right across the board among this year’s winners. Our entrants this year faced a number of challenges brought on by the onset of Covid-19. Nonetheless this did not impact on the quality of the Annual Reports produced and this just showcases the resilience of our members and their organisations and teams. Well done to all those shortlisted and awarded today.”  Head of Equity Listing Ireland at Euronext, Orla O’Gorman, said: “The annual report continues to be one of the most powerful communication tools that a company has when engaging with stakeholders, particularly in this new digital world. It enables them to showcase their business in both financial and non-financial terms, in order to speak to the diverse range of interests of their stakeholders. Euronext is a strong advocate of excellence in stakeholder reporting and congratulates all those shortlisted and receiving awards at this event.” ESB maintained its track record in 2020, winning the ‘Statutory Unquoted Large Entities’ Award for the tenth year in a row.   The full list of award winners is as follows: Category Winner   Overall winner  DCC  Highly Commended  NI Water  Large not-for-profit  Concern  Small/Medium not-for-profit  Barretstown  Company listed on a foreign market  DCC  Statutory Unquoted Large Entity (IFRS)  ESB  Statutory Unquoted Large Entity (Non-IFRS)  DAA  Euronext Growth Award  Total Produce  Small/Medium Quoted Company  Kenmare Resources  Large Quoted Company  CRH plc  CSR and Sustainability Award (Listed)   Kenmare Resources  CSR and Sustainability Award (Unlisted)  NI Water  Diversity & Inclusion Award  An Post  Highly Commended Diversity & Inclusion Award  Barnardos  Best Digital Reporting Award  Origin Enterprises  Best Branding Communication & Marketing Award  Barnardos  

Nov 05, 2020
Public Policy

The effectiveness of Budget 2021 will be measured by the billions of euro the government is willing to borrow to invest in the Irish economy. The bigger this investment, the more assured Ireland’s economic future will be post-COVID-19, according to Chartered Accountants Ireland. Commenting, Brian Keegan, Director of Public Affairs with Chartered Accountants Ireland said“Since March, the government has invested huge sums by way of wage supports for business, social welfare supports and retraining and reskilling for those whose jobs have disappeared permanently. It is very positive to see that support continue in today’s Budget, both for those still in employment and those who have lost their jobs, at the expense of regressive tax measures. “Clearly a key consideration in the Budget is the price of money that the government will pay to borrow in the markets, but what we have done so far this year is working.” Extending supports in Budget ‘21Measures announced which extend wage supports, reduce the VAT rate from 13.5% to 9% for the hospitality sector, give regular compensation payments to businesses restricted by COVID-19 safety measures and extend the debt warehousing scheme to help the self-employed manage their tax debt give Irish businesses something tangible to rely on and build upon. This certainty is key in a time of turmoil brought on by COVID-19 restrictions and an unknown post-Brexit trading landscape.  Keegan continued“The funds committed for retraining and upskilling the Irish workforce as announced in today’s Budget means that Ireland will be work-ready as soon as the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. “Key to the success of these supports will be ensuring that recipients do not become entangled and impeded by red tape and excessive bureaucracy. If the bar to entry is too high in terms of time or expertise required, we run the risk of businesses being unable to avail of much needed supports. We saw evidence of this in the operation of the TWSS and we must avoid going down the same route; it's the last thing that businesses on the brink need.” Corporation Tax The Government’s plans to relaunch Ireland’s Corporation Tax Roadmap sends out a clear message to Foreign Direct Investment that Ireland is a committed and active participant in the OECD’s tax reform work.  Keegan commented“Corporation tax receipts have proven to be a stalwart revenue source to the Irish exchequer during one of the most sudden economic shocks we have seen. In the face of questions as to the sustainability of this revenue source, in Budget ’21 today, the government is saying that Ireland can continue to reliably depend on these receipts in 2021.  “Notwithstanding our commitment to the OECD programme of reform, Ireland is also committed to a national policy of being the best location in the world for multinationals to do fair business.” Missed opportunities to nurture entrepreneurship With Ireland’s rate of Capital Gains Tax among the highest in the EU, the decision once again this year to not reduce the rate from 33% to a more palatable 25% is a missed opportunity.  A temporary reduced CGT rate would have brought in much needed tax revenue from a pent-up appetite for transactions which must go unsatisfied for now.  The tax system can be used to encourage private risk-based investment in start-ups. Private investors have cash doing nothing on deposit and all they need is a government initiative to channel much needed investment into start-ups.  Plans for another review of the Employment Investment Incentive Scheme need to deliver real change to drive private investment to support start-ups. ENDS

Oct 13, 2020

Rebuilding your business can seem daunting, but with a well-equipped business plan, you can be sure to bounce back stronger than ever before, says Siobhan McCreesh.In business, it is often said that the comeback is stronger than the setback.While the last six months have been difficult, lockdown has shown what businesses can achieve when they take control of a situation. Already, the world around us is adapting to the ‘new normal’. Health, wellbeing, physical, emotional and mental fitness have all come to the fore in the fight against COVID-19 and more people than ever are working remotely.Many of the changes forced on us are here to stay. Many of us are looking at further restrictions of our movements and businesses. As businesses plan their road to recovery, none will be too big or too small to respond smarter, rebound stronger and reflect clearer in the months ahead.Focus on the positiveWhile overcoming road-blocks on the path to recovery will test emotional and mental fitness, it is important to prepare for this and avoid being consumed by the challenges that arise. As each challenge emerges, try to ‘flip’ it by switching your focus from what you have lost to what you need to do to survive. Focus on identifying and planning how you can:diversify and rebuild; deploy staff into new, exciting roles; and source new opportunities for customers, suppliers and markets.Stay true to your ‘why’When plotting your road ahead, it is crucial to remain true to your business’s reason for being – your ‘why’. Keeping this why at the core of the business recovery plan will help established businesses refocus on their original purpose and give younger businesses a clear path to follow. Communication is also important. If you allow your ‘why’ to be miscommunicated, this can isolate loyal staff, customers and suppliers which, in turn, can have a damaging ripple effect across your business.Be realisticYour recovery plan needs to be achievable, focusing both on your personal goals and your business aspirations. It also needs to be flexible so that it can adapt quickly to the rapidly changing environment we are in. Bill Gates famously said most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. Make sure that your projections are realistic and that your recovery plan is split out into measurable phases. Short-term goals are important but mid- and long-term goals also need to be accommodated.Remember to ensure that you have the correct staff mix, systems, processes and financial resources in place to drive your business forward. Currently, various supports are available to help businesses recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.As lockdown restrictions come and go, and businesses adapt to the reality of trading with COVID-19, this is the time to make the connections you need to help your business, recover, survive and thrive. Siobhan McCreesh is an Associate Director at PKF FPM.

Sep 25, 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

Innovation is high on the government’s agenda. But how can companies invest in R&D given the current economic conditions? Establishing an innovative culture in your organisation is the key to success, says Barrie Dowsett.When it comes to innovative research and development, it is easy to picture a lab – one in which a large technology company is working on something amazing, like a robotic arm. You’re likely to think of pharmaceuticals as well, especially given that Ireland is renowned for its thriving medicine industry.But, actually, innovation is happening all around us.Research and development (R&D) is simply about seeking a scientific or technological advancement or overcoming a challenge that could not easily be solved by a professional in the field. From developing new products, services, or processes from scratch, to improving those which already exist, R&D is likely to occur in your business more often than you think.The state of R&D in IrelandThere has been a significant rise in the amount of investment in R&D from Irish businesses in recent years and that has coupled nicely with the fact that innovation is high on the government’s agenda.Recent data released by the Central Statistics Office show that the total expenditure on innovation projects in Ireland totalled almost €5.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 18.2% just two years prior. The main reason behind this leap is the 39.4% increase in expenditure for in-house R&D, totalling €3 billion in 2018 up from €2.2 billion in 2016.This information from CSO goes deeper too and shows that in 2018 the acquisition of machinery, software, and equipment represented 20.7% of the total spend at €1.1 billion. Embracing an innovative cultureAll businesses will approach R&D differently. Some have an innovative culture in place from the start. Others, however, take time to instil it. There are other variants to consider as well, like company structure, size, and ability to claim.Take size as an example. Businesses looking to create brand new products and services tend to be larger, more established, and better able to meet the demands of extensive market research and production. However, small- and medium-sized enterprises are more likely to work on improving existing products rather than creating new ones, as a development from scratch can be prohibitively expensive. Some companies will be able to set up their own R&D department, while others will outsource their efforts to gain the skills and knowledge required. Furthermore, with the effects of COVID-19 being acutely felt across the Irish economy, many companies simply feel unable to give R&D priority at the moment, with statistics showing that 85% of Irish businesses have scaled their operations back or even shut their doors entirely.R&D and the Irish economyHaving a well-defined and funded R&D strategy isn’t just about showing off amazing products, it’s also about staying ahead of the game. Marketplaces are becoming more competitive and companies are in direct competition with each other to offer something bigger and better to retain their customer base. Although investing in R&D often requires some generous financial outlay, the rewards can also be significant.Another big benefit of investment in R&D lies in the ability to claim R&D tax credits, with the government recognising the benefits it brings to the wider economy through job creation and growth. The incentive is lucrative too, covering up to 25% of R&D expenditure over and above the standard rate of 12.5%, meaning Irish companies can obtain as much as 37.5% of R&D costs back, either as a corporation tax reduction or as a cash lump sum. Creating or developing products and services, both for commercial purposes and within a company, can lead to great pay-offs. But innovation can’t happen without some element of risk, and for many companies meeting the costs involved can be daunting.However, there is a range of national and EU schemes available to help mitigate the costs in addition to R&D tax credits, like Enterprise Ireland funding supports, Horizon 2020, EUREKA Eurostars, and more. Whatever size and sector the company is in, a well-executed and funded R&D strategy is essential to survive and thrive.Barrie Dowsett is the CEO and owner of Myriad Associates.

Sep 04, 2020
Public Policy

Chartered Accountants Ireland has launched a Certificate in Customs and Trade to equip advisors and those working in business with the information and tools needed to navigate the new customs regime that Brexit will introduce in 2021. Negotiations between the EU and the UK on a future relationship will conclude as the transitional period ends on 31 December. Regardless of whether a trade agreement is reached, customs administration will be imposed on exporters and importers north and south and beyond these shores.  Engagement with members by Chartered Accountants Ireland has revealed a significant deficit in general awareness among its members and the wider business community of the skills and knowledge required to meet the legal and regulatory requirements of international trade, specifically trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland/Great Britain post-Brexit. In addition, half of businesses surveyed by the Institute reported significant concern about dealing with customs administration in the coming months.Commenting, Programme Lead Tony Buckley said, “We are critically short of expertise on the island of Ireland to manage this unprecedented change. Long-established trading relationships will need to be renegotiated, the costs of trade will inevitably rise, and supply chains will have to be critically re-appraised.  In practice, there are few businesses whose supply chains will not be affected, directly or indirectly, and all will need advice from professionals familiar with the complex new rules and procedures.”  The Certificate has been designed in line with the EU Customs Competency Framework and successful participants will reach Proficiency Level 2 (Trained) in the areas relevant to post-Brexit trading. This will enable them to offer customs advice, to support applicants for customs authorisations and permissions, and to develop plans and strategies for businesses facing Brexit-related challenges. The Level 9 qualification is awarded under the statutory authority of Chartered Accountants Ireland.  The initial programme commencing in October 2020 is fully subscribed and we are taking interest now for the next iteration, the dates of which will be confirmed.The syllabus will cover: New challenges resulting from BrexitTrading across borders – structure and operation of international tradeCustoms law, regulation and processesFulfilling regulatory requirements – documents, processes and permissionsManaging the supply chain – terms of trade, ensuring delivery, reducing riskCase studies of sectoral challenges and possible solutions. Commenting, Cróna Clohisey, Public Policy Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “We are delighted to launch this much needed qualification. It has been in planning for some time now, and the process of syllabus design in partnership with stakeholders has been a comprehensive one.  It comes at a time when businesses right across the island of Ireland need access to expertise and reassurance on customs and trade issues that many have never had to even consider in their business lives to date. It is a qualification for a changing landscape and through it, Chartered Accountants Ireland wants to empower businesses to recover and succeed despite considerable challenge in the wider operating environment.” The programme will be delivered through four modules over eight weeks, with the first iteration commencing on 7 October 2020.  Each module is centred on one day of interactive live delivery via video-conferencing (face-to-face workshops may be added/substituted if circumstances permit).  Assessment will include multiple-choice assignments on each module and a final summative written assignment. For more information, see express interest in the next upcoming iteration of the Certificate, please register your name and email address here. ENDS

Aug 24, 2020

In March, organisations had to act quickly to create a remote working culture in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, they need to consider what the next phase of work will look like, and how and where work will be done into the future. Kevin Empey explains. COVID-19 has prompted a lot of discussion about the next phase of work and working life. For many, the pandemic has provided an unwelcome but informative and possibly pivotal experiment in how and where we work. It has also accelerated trends and practices in world of work that were already happening, bringing them firmly into the mainstream. Most agree that we will not return to pre-COVID ways of working, nor will we see continue with this pandemic model of work we have experienced in recent months. The next phase of working life will be some form of a blended approach that historically carries a variety of labels such as remote working, flexible working and smart working. Whatever label we choose for it, employers (and employees) now have an opportunity to create a broader working culture – beyond the provision of ad-hoc flexible, technology-enabled, remote working practices which, on their own, may miss a much bigger message and opportunity. Levels of flexible working There is a clear spectrum of strategies or ‘levels’ that employers have taken in relation to flexible working. While health and well-being concerns are clearly dictating short-term return-to-work approaches, these different levels of flexible working are now informing more deliberate, ambitious and strategic workforce options that employers are considering for the longer-term. The choice of strategy comes down to whatever best suits the future business model, culture, and talent strategy for each organisation. The choice of approach should also complement other transformation objectives and not just be a stand-alone, isolated initiative.   Tactical levels – focused mainly on employees only Level 0 – Little or no flexible working offered or actively promoted. Level 1 – No formal guidelines but some ad-hoc, isolated and unstructured practices have evolved over time and are allowed. Mainly based on informal agreements and accommodating some work-life balance arrangements. Level 2 – Formal guidelines do exist but limited based on certain clear parameters e.g. Fridays optional for remote working or 80% expected in the office etc. Specific arrangements that are role specific and not universal across all job types. Strategic levels – focused jointly on the business and the employee Level 3 – Formal guidelines and principles exists as part of a wider workforce strategy. More freedom and discretion allowed at local business, team, and individual level. Parameters exist based on business and customer needs, but they are kept to a minimum. Remote working seen as part of a deliberate and wider agile working culture and integrated with other programmes and people priorities, e.g. diversity and inclusion, talent and skills strategy, recruitment etc.  Level 4 – Maximum level of freedom and choice provided. Clear business rationale (e.g. talent, efficiency, dispersed workforce, property benefits etc.) for optimal remote working offering and formally expressed as part of the organisation strategy.  Working remotely accepted as the normal practice with variances based on business need to be in the office for certain activities. These COVID times are presenting a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ‘reset’ a vision for how work will be designed in the future. This will help not only to increase organisational agility and future-fitness, but it will also distinguish employers in the battle for top talent who will be watching your next move with huge interest. Talent that will have higher expectations regarding how and where they work than they have ever had before. Kevin Empey is the Managing Director of WorkMatters Consulting.

Jul 17, 2020

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