News

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
News

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 For more information Jill Farrelly PR & Communications Manager Chartered Accountants Ireland jill.farrelly@charteredaccountants.ie Tel: 087 738 6608 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
News

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
News

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
News

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 https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/professional-development/specialist-qualifications/certificate-in-customs-and-tradeTo express interest in the next upcoming iteration of the Certificate, please register your name and email address here. ENDS

Aug 24, 2020
News

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
Press release

Liquidity and cashflow are key concerns for one third of businesses in a post-Covid economy according to new data released today by Chartered Accountants Ireland from almost 2,000 members surveyed by the Institute on the island of Ireland. With 33 percent of respondents reporting a need to overhaul their business model post-pandemic, businesses, in particular SMEs, have highlighted specific measures that can help in the period ahead, including: One in four called for changes to company law to give businesses greater flexibility to navigate unprecedented circumstances like a pandemic Almost half of those working in practice called for greater leniency on filing deadlines, interest and penalties Digital transformation is a priority for 1 in 4 businesses post-Covid, with calls for accompanying digitalisation of government services Longer term business supports post-Covid and the use of VAT rate decreases as short-term stimulus were raised by 28 percent of members, rising to 39 percent of those in practice. The findings are released as the Institute publishes “The Next Financial Year: Making Irish Business More Competitive”, a new position paper which identifies pathways to a better business environment post-pandemic. Informed by extensive engagement with members working in practice, industry, SMEs and the public sector, the paper sets out proposals to create workable solutions and alternatives across a range of areas, including digitalisation, tax measures and business supports now open to Government / policymakers to consider. [Details below] Commenting, Dr Brian Keegan, Director of Public Policy, Chartered Accountants Ireland said “SMEs are fighting to stay afloat and post-pandemic, many will reimagine how they function or will pivot into new activities. Supports are currently based on the way that business has always been done, but with this changing, “The Next Financial Year” outlines a simplified, more flexible approach.  “Now is not the time to rely on dogged and uncommercial approaches. Government policy must be focussed on providing maximum support and flexibility to businesses.”  The proposals include an emphasis on digitalisation and ensuring government services and supports keep pace with changing business models post-pandemic, and the realities of operating as an SME at this time. These include: - Digitalisation Remote working has been one of the most visible signs of change since March. Many workers are now trusted to work productively from home where possible; and it is now acceptable to hold significant business meetings online. Chartered Accountants Ireland calls for the momentum to be maintained by increased support for the education and adoption of digital competencies across the business community through increased grant-funded programmes. Government must also play its part in supporting digitalisation, namely: full digitalisation of CRO services including the acceptance of electronic signatures and the electronic filing of documents to relieve the administrative burden and speed up processing, changes to the Companies Act to allow all companies to hold virtual AGMs, changes to the Companies Act to allow creditors meetings to be held by telephone and/or video conferencing, full automation of the professional services withholding tax system so that the record of the tax withheld is generated in electronic format and automatically issued to Revenue, pledge by Revenue to provide a MyEnquiries query response rate of five working days.  Other key proposals include extension of filing deadline for accounts due for 31 October to 31 December 2020 to 31 January 2021, increase of the examinership period to 150 days, simplification of existing support and funding schemes, especially those aimed at the SME sector, which are too onerous and complex to administer, push by Government for increased share of the €750 billion EU Recovery and Resilience Fund to deliver grant support to the hospitality, tourism, leisure and retail sectors. ENDS Read Next Financial Year

Jul 17, 2020
Press release

Today's decision by the General Court of the European Union in the already protracted Apple case recognises commercial realities and principles of fairness over legal technicalities. An initial reading of the decision suggests that the Court did not accept the Commission’s contention that the administrative decisions in the Apple Case were flawed. The Commission had not challenged Ireland's tax laws but rather how they were applied. The outcome vindicates Ireland’s adherence, not just to Irish but also to European rules when levying taxation. While the amounts of money involved are vast and the additional tax estimated at some €13bn would be welcome particularly now as we struggle to pay for the cost of the pandemic, it would have been wrong to claim money that is not rightfully ours, and  the Court has established that this is the case. The Apple case taken by the Commission is one of a number of cases opened in in recent years concerning the granting of State Aid using the tax system by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands as well as Ireland. The Commission has not been successful in every instance.   It is to be hoped that the Commission will accept the decision of the General Court of the European Union, and not seek to damage the country’s reputation further with protracted legal proceedings.  

Jul 15, 2020
Press release

The group representing Irish accountancy bodies has called on the government to introduce emergency measures for the SME sector in Budget 2021 to help them withstand the impact of Covid-19 in the coming months. The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies -Ireland (CCAB-I) launched its 2021 Pre-Budget Submission to Government today.  Concessions in terms of how the Government will tax Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme payments and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment are urgently required. For example, if an employee receives €350 per week under the TWSS, this amounts to €7,700 over 22 weeks and is a substantial amount of untaxed income for a worker to deal with at the end of the year. Tax due on these payments should be spread over four years or more to avoid a significant drop in the worker’s take home pay.  The Submission acknowledges the unprecedented supports provided to date, however, warns that in the absence of further extraordinary supports, many SMEs in Ireland cannot survive. Measures proposed in the Submission cover tax supports for self-employed individuals, measures to support SME recovery and tax rule reforms to reflect modern work practices.  Anticipating that many self-employed individuals will not be in a position to pay their income tax liability due in November this year, the Submission proposes the write-down of the first €10,000 of the balance of the 2019 tax liability of self-employed individuals on a targeted basis for those in financial difficulty as a highly effective means of support.  With an eye to supporting entrepreneurship and incentivising investment, among the measures the Submission also proposes are the implementation of the recommendations of the Indecon Report on the Revised Entrepreneur Relief; the tailoring of R&D tax credits to facilitate the economic recovery of the SME sector; the introduction of a digital tax credit for SMEs; and the refining of the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme (EIIS) rules to generate much needed equity funding for SMEs operating in difficult economic circumstances. Commenting Norah Collender, Professional Tax Lead, Chartered Accountants Ireland said, “When we talk about small businesses, we mean local retailers, manufacturers, hospitality, and service providers. They are reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19and face liquidity pressures which could result in business closures without Government support. The tax system is a powerful means of getting supports to SMEs, which in turn always respond positively with increased economic activity. “The Programme for Government talks about many tax initiatives to help small business which it must follow through on as soon as possible along with extending emergency tax measures introduced by Revenue.  Small businesses need to know where they stand so a practical way of doing this is for Revenue to confirm that its emergency tax measures will remain in place for the rest of 2020.    “It’s natural for any Government faced with a deficit to consider cutting back tax supports but such a move will mean the end for many businesses.  SMEs account for over 1 million employees, or 68.4% of total employment in the Irish business economy and economic recovery is simply impossible if these businesses don’t get the tax supports they need.” 

Jul 13, 2020
Press release

Today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a set of new measures to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK economy. Alan Gourley, Chair of NI Tax Committee, Chartered Accountants Ireland gave his initial reaction, commenting “The key measures announced in the Summer Statement today are designed to encourage consumers to get back out spending and to have the confidence to enjoy a meal out, buy a home and return workers to regular employment. “Today’s announcements will have a positive impact on the economy in Northern Ireland.  We have the same Stamp Duty Land Tax system as England so Northern Ireland will benefit from the increase from £125,000 to £500,0000 of the zero-rate threshold, a saving of £2,500 on a home costing £250,000. “This zero-rate threshold in addition to measures like the reduced 5% VAT rate for hospitality services, the innovative “eat out to help out scheme” and the jobs retention bonus are all time bound incentives due to expire early next year at the latest. This will hopefully encourage consumers to have the confidence and the money to resume spending in 2020. This can only be a good thing as local businesses in Northern Ireland really need consumer support to get back on track.  “These incentives, combined with a sensible approach to social distancing will help as the economy tries to navigate the post-COVID-19 recovery.” Highlights include:  Jobs retention bonus will be paid to employers from 1/11/2020 to 31/1/21 - £1k bonus per furloughed employee who is returned to work - employee must be paid at least £520 per month on average between Nov 2020 and Jan 2021.  Payments will be made from February 2021. Stamp duty land tax on residential properties – 0% threshold will be raised to £500,000 (currently £125,000) until 31/3/2020 – effective from today for England and NI. VAT on hospitality – food (eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs),  accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites) and attractions (cinemas, theme parks and zoos) cut from 20% to 5% from next Wednesday until 12 January 2021. For month of August – “eat out to help out” discount - meals eaten at any participating business, from Monday to Wednesday, will be 50% off, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children. Businesses will need to register, and can do so through a website, open next Monday. Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within 5 working days.  

Jul 08, 2020

Paul Henry, Director of Osborne King and President of Chartered Accountants Ireland has been named as Chair of CCAB for 2020/22. CCAB (The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies) is an umbrella group of the accountancy profession in the UK and has a combined membership worldwide of 408,000. Its core purpose is to promote sustainable growth in the economy through the accountancy profession. Paul Henry takes over as Chair from Mike McKeon CA, President of ICAS (the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland). During his two year tenure, Paul will lead the CCAB’s work in identifying and capitalising on the opportunities that the rapid pace of change in the business and accountancy world brings in 2020. Equally he will lead the CCAB’s response to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 for its members and the wider business community.  Commenting on his appointment, Paul said: “I look forward to engaging with as many members and stakeholders as possible in the coming months to help our profession to adapt to all the changes that affect us, from rapid technological advancements to increased regulatory requirements. This of course all takes place in the context of a business community worldwide that is facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on the way we all live and conduct business.  “Another area of focus for me in the coming 2 years will be strengthening the reputation of our industry to ensure that we can attract the best and brightest individuals. The lifeblood of any profession is the young talent that chooses to join its ranks.” Paul Henry is a Director with Belfast based property consultancy Osborne King and has extensive experience of real estate, insolvency and corporate finance. A resident of Belfast, he qualified with Pricewaterhouse in 1989. Prior to his current role, he held positions with the Industrial Development Board, Enterprise Equity, PricewaterhouseCoopers and ASM Chartered Accountants.  He also served as Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society in 2014.  The CCAB was established in 1988 to coordinate the representation functions of the participant professional bodies in areas of common interest to the profession. It has a number of committees which respond to Government and regulatory initiatives in their respective areas.

Jul 07, 2020
Press release

Tuesday's announcement that Revenue is to query claims made by 55,000 Irish businesses for temporary wage subsidies is very unhelpful to Irish industry which already has so much to deal with.  While claims for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme should of course be policed, the announcement that Revenue is to correspond with so many Irish businesses runs counter to their previous indication that vetting would only take place at the end of the scheme.  Claiming the Temporary Wage Subsidy depended on eligibility, and businesses were asked to self-assess their entitlement. The blanket enquiry approach suggests that no attempt is being made to identify risky claims by the authorities.  All claimants of the scheme are to have their names published, and all employees are clear from their payslips that their employer is claiming money through the scheme.  These very public checks should go a significant way towards satisfying the authorities that the process is transparent.    Commenting, Norah Collender, Professional Tax Leader at Chartered Accountants Ireland said       “Carrying out blanket enquiries of this nature the very week that so many businesses are trying to reopen signals an indifference to the plight of many businesses. We are calling on Revenue to defer any compliance interventions until the Autumn. This will help businesses to focus on getting back to work rather than having to deal with Revenue correspondence following their enforced shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”  The Revenue Commissioners have to date been exemplary in their response to dealing with the pandemic, and in particular, their operation of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has been deservedly praised.  Unfortunately, this blanket and unselective compliance measure, launched at this critical juncture, could undermine much of the good work and a lot of goodwill established in recent weeks.    Ends   

Jun 24, 2020
News

For most, figuring out parenting and your career is difficult. It can be even more so if you are an LGBT parent. Peter Keenan-Gavaghan explains how the support from his organisation enabled him and his husband to make the leap into parenthood while growing his career. Balancing a career and a family is always a juggling act. However, when your family does not fit the traditional model, it can also prove to be a minefield for all concerned, especially at work. Societal expectations of parental roles, parental names and second glances are only a few of the factors that need to be thought about before LGBT people become parents. Despite having made the decision to have children early in our relationship, it took my husband and I eight years before our son arrived into the world. With both of us being working professionals, the process of family planning started in the traditional way: how do we balance parenthood, careers and our relationship? We quickly realised that we also needed to consider society. In the end, some of it came down to practicalities, and some came down to our own values, preferences and external supports.  Parental leave One area we had to consider was managing early childcare. My firm gives enhanced paid parental leave regardless of gender and this played a big part in our decision that I would be the stay at home dad for the first seven months of our son's life, with my husband returning to work on a reduced work week. Without the seven-month paid parental leave from my firm, our family would be much different position starting out – and certainly disadvantaged compared to mums going on leave. It’s important that not only the people in an organisation are supportive to LGBT families, but that the support is reflected in the HR policies and procedures. Creating a network We always knew we would need to navigate the potential assumptions from colleagues and clients that there is a ‘mum’ at home. We quickly realised that if social assumptions were to change, we needed to be proud of our family, and not place each other back in the closet. Having same-sex parents is nothing new in Barclays. Indeed, when we were investigating how we would become parents, one of the first ports of call was Barclays LGBT network, Spectrum. There we got a greater understanding of fostering, adoption and surrogacy. The network also holds regular talks on ‘non-traditional' parenting to educate colleagues on how they can become parents and continue to build their career. While nothing would have stopped my husband and me from having our son, the information and support gained from the LGBT network in my organisation eased the process for us (as much as to-be parents can be eased when planning for their first) and normalises families like ours to colleagues and clients. Before going on paternity leave, my team did the traditional baby gift presentation and I was invited to expectant parents’ events. This not only showed support but also demonstrated inclusivity. Talent retention What I have found since going back to work is that I have become more focused and flexible. Because Barclays gave me the information on parental leave, the precious first months with my son, and the flexibility to alter my working hours to the typical parent’s life without judgements or assumptions, they have retained a committed employee and have helped create a happy family. Peter Keenan-Gavaghan is Vice President of Barclays Internal Audit – RFT & Functions Technology.

Jun 22, 2020

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