About the Ulster Society

Chartered Accountants Ulster Society is the oldest district society of the Institute and serves around 4,500 members throughout Northern Ireland. The Chairman is Niall Harkin.

The Ulster Society provides professional, educational and social services and events for its members (in practice, in business, in the public sector and charity/ voluntary sector) and is a strong voice for Northern Ireland's business sector. The Society also actively fosters relationships with other accountancy, professional organisations and government bodies.


Chartered Accountants cite political uncertainty and Brexit as key factors in year ahead A survey of 315 Chartered Accountants across all sectors of the Northern Ireland economy suggests slow growth for the local economy in the year ahead. The survey by Chartered Accountants Ulster Society found that its members regarded political uncertainty and Brexit instability as key issues likely to affect the economy over the next 12 months. Cuts in government spending, concerns around the increasing cost of doing business and rising inflation also featured as negative factors affecting the local economy. The Economy In general terms, while 72% said that they believed the economy was growing slowly or moderately, only 13% viewed prospects for the year ahead as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, significantly down from 32% of members in the previous year. 29% saw prospects for the coming year as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, a rise of 11% points since last year. The issues felt to have the most potential to negatively affect the economy in the year ahead were political instability (95% of respondents) and Brexit uncertainty (80% of respondents). On a more encouraging note, 37% of those surveyed identified an improving global outlook as a potential upside. Brexit 59% of respondents said it was ‘critical’ to protect the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland, while 95% were opposed to a hard border. 96% said they wanted free trade in goods, services and capital to be an important aspect of any deal negotiated with the EU. 4 out of 5 Chartered Accountants believed that Northern Ireland will be more negatively affected by Brexit compared to the rest of the UK. Corporation Tax A reduced rate of Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland was identified as potentially a major benefit for the local economy, with 63% saying a lower rate would have a positive effect on Northern Ireland’s economic performance. Jobs, Skills & Wages On the issue of jobs and skills, the survey showed that over half of respondents did not expect head count in their own organisations to change, with 27% expecting an increase in employment levels and 16% expecting a reduction. Two in every five of those surveyed said that their organisation was currently experiencing skills shortages. The survey did predict a squeeze on wages, with more than 7 in 10 expecting wage increases for the coming year to be below the current rate of inflation (2.9%, Office for National Statistics, June 2017). Comment Pamela McCreedy, Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society which represents over 4,000 Chartered Accountants in Northern Ireland, said: “Despite an improving global economy our members are predicting more modest prospects locally, with economic prospects slipping back from 2016 and 2015 levels. “The uncertainty created by Brexit stands out. Our members clearly feel that Northern Ireland may be more negatively impacted by Brexit than other UK regions and have sent a strong message that they see avoiding a hard border with the Republic of Ireland and free trade with the EU as vital components of any Brexit negotiations. “I believe that the business community will press forward despite the perceived challenges. We hope that the local political parties will be able to resolve outstanding issues so that a Budget and a new Programme for Government be put into place which can give direction and clarity for Northern Ireland.” Independent economist Maureen O’Reilly, who formulated and analysed the survey of Northern Ireland’s Chartered Accountants said: “The survey results suggest that the broad view of members is that Northern Ireland’s economic prospects are weakening. “Most Chartered Accountants in the survey believe that the economy is either growing slowly or indeed stagnant and do not feel a strong sense of positivity about prospects in the year ahead. Only 13% viewing prospects as good or better. Uncertainty and instability are certainly weighing down on views around the performance of the local economy in the near term at least.” Key findings in the survey include: 60% feel that the NI economy is growing slowly; 12% growing moderately; 21% feel the economy is stagnant. 58% Feel the outlook for the NI economy in the year ahead is ‘Fair’; 26% feel the outlook is ‘Poor’ and 3% ‘Very Poor’; 11% say ‘Good’; and 2% ‘Very Good’ Brexit was rated as ‘strongly negative’ for the local economy in the coming year by 51%; A further 29% viewed it as a ‘negative’ factor. Political uncertainty, Government spending cuts, increased business costs and rising inflation were all highlighted as impacting negatively on the local economy. A reduced Corporation Tax rate for NI and an improving global outlook were cited as the most positive factors for the local economy in the year ahead. 315 Chartered Accountants took part in the survey.     

Jun 19, 2017

Zara Duffy has been appointed as the first Head of Chartered Accountants Northern Ireland, representing and managing services for over 4,000 Chartered Accountants.   Mrs Duffy previously held the position of Director of Finance and Operations with Employers for Childcare and has significant experience at senior finance director and board level within the professional services, voluntary and charity sector, financial services, retail and construction markets.   Welcoming Mrs Duffy to the role, Pat Costello, Chief Executive of Chartered Accountants Ireland said: “I am delighted to welcome Zara to the role of Head of Chartered Accountants Northern Ireland.   “Her wealth of business experience and leadership skills will ensure that we continue to meet the changing needs of our membership and indeed, represent the needs of the local business community to the very highest standard.”   On taking the new role, Mrs Duffy said: “I’m proud to be leading the largest and most long-established professional body of accountants in Northern Ireland and I look forward to making a significant contribution in terms of supporting local Chartered Accountants and firms.   “I am keen that our profession makes its voice heard and brings its expertise to bear for the benefit of Northern Ireland. I want to encourage our membership to make a strong contribution to economic debate and to be a compelling advocate for the local business sector.”   Pamela McCreedy, Chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society said: “Zara is a key appointment for our Institute. She will have a vital role in terms of representing members’ views and in tapping into the experience and ability of our membership throughout Northern Ireland.   “Our members do have concerns about the challenges which we face in Northern Ireland such as the effects of uncertainty over Brexit and the difficulties posed by political instability, but we are keen to play our part in making Northern Ireland a great place to do business, and a great place to live.”    Mrs Duffy is a Masters Graduate from Queen’s University, Belfast and Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.  She began her career with Price Waterhouse, specialising in small business audit and advisory services.  

May 15, 2017
Public sector

Presentations from the 'Risk Management - A Fresh Perspective' event run jointly with the Institute of Risk Management are now available in pdf format below: Carolyn Williams Risk Agenda - Ireland March 2017 David Mills presentation Mar 17 Davy Elliott Business as Usual  

Apr 12, 2017