High Risk, High Reward

We have spoken at length in the past about the importance of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are to the Irish economy. SMEs alone currently comprise over half of all Irish businesses, and have come to form the backbone of the ongoing economic recovery. As such, it has become increasingly important to protect and encourage these kinds of businesses.

In recent months we have seen the beginnings of a welcome change in the availability and range of funding and assistance options for SMEs which has shown a real shift in focus towards taking note of the importance of our Small and Medium Enterprises as well as our entrepreneurs.

Something which is rarely focused on is support for the financial backers of these seemingly higher risk enterprises and companies. The Government have created a scheme to act as an incentive for such financial backers called the Enterprise Investment Scheme. This scheme allows qualifying companies access to investment from shareholders, and in turn offers these shareholders tax breaks as incentive.

The purpose of the scheme is to assist some small and higher risk SMEs to raise capital where this may ordinarily be difficult or almost impossible. This will help to reduce the amount of SMEs forced to wind down due to a lack of financial investment.

It is hoped that this scheme will encourage investors to back what may be perceived as higher risk companies, in order to act as a buffer for these companies and increase their chance of continued survival. As these would be a higher risk investment, there are of course a number of enterprises which do not qualify, these are as follows:

Land shares, goods (except normal retail etc.), financial, legal and accountancy, property development, hotels and nursing homes, agriculture and power, etc.

There is also a time limit of two years applied during which the invested capital must be utilised and the investor must never have been previously connected with the business prior to investment.

Companies wishing to avail of this scheme must be EII certified and must directly seek certification from the Revenue Commissioners.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Enterprise Ireland are endeavouring to ensure that Irish businesses are prepared for any eventuality during the Brexit transition. Their advice, and ours is to ensure that you are well prepared and have planned for these changes in advance. We all think we know our company and our business inside and out but with so much change on the horizon it is essential that you understand how your business will respond to any outcome.

Enterprise Ireland have created a free tool to ensure that you and your business are prepared and informed ahead of Brexit. The Enterprise Ireland SME Scorecard is a tool which will help any exporters from Ireland to the UK plan in advance and will give a detailed analysis of how prepared your business is for Brexit. Whilst you may know the ins and outs of your daily business well, this tool will allow you a glimpse into the future of how your business will respond to these coming changes.

The following six areas have been identified as the most important areas to prepare in advance of Brexit.

  • Business Strategy is essential in all areas of business, but in particular when change looms on the horizon it is essential to have a strategy in place and identify any areas of weakness in advance.
  • Operations relates to the day to day running of your business and it is vital to prepare for how this might change or if there are any existing issues that need to be modified.
  • Innovation is one of the main ways that Irish businesses can capitalise on the changes ahead with Brexit as improved services and innovative products can identify Ireland as a key player in the times ahead.
  • Sales and Marketing have always been a key aspect of business, and with Brexit these will become increasingly important in order to set your business apart to offset any downfall.
  • Finance is the backbone of any business so it is essential to assess your businesses financial strengths and weaknesses before Brexit comes into play to identify potential problems before they occur.
  • People Management has been identified as a key area to assess before Brexit as with such major changes ahead your team will be the ones at the battlefront.

As well as this free scorecard tool, Enterprise Ireland are allowing SMEs apply for a grant of up to €5000 to be used to prepare for Brexit and the changes it will bring. This will free up other cash flow to be used to otherwise further your business whilst the grant is used to buffer any weaker areas identified through the scorecard tool.

As always we are available for any advice or guidance you may require on business or finance matters.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Who’s going to Drive You Home?

During the economic downturn, there was a significant period of time in which seeing a brand new car straight off the forecourt could have been seen as a novelty. Oftentimes people looked out for brand new cars on the roads, just to take a look and see what new treats loomed on the horizon of hope. In more recent times however amidst Ireland’s continuing recovery it is becoming more and more common to see brand new cars on the roads, particularly since the licence plates are now split into two halves of the year and it is easier to distinguish the latest models. This might lead us to believe that there is more disposable income available to workers, but the reality may be quite different.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance has fast become one of the most popular methods of car financing available in Ireland. PCP is an increasingly popular method of car finance due to the low repayments offered. Utilising a perceived expected residual value at the end of the term to reduce monthly payments, it seems a much cheaper and easier option for many car buyers. Many dealers also offer the option to upgrade to a new car at the end of the term using the expected value left on the previous, making this a popular option for anyone hoping to upgrade on a regular basis without having to empty their pockets on the spot.

Recently, The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has commissioned a report on PCP finance to be completed by Grant Thornton. In the US defaulting on these types of loans has spiked in recent years and there is a fear that falling into the same traps could have serious negative results for the Irish car market. This fear is expounded by the fact that PCP finance is done through car dealers and not through the usual financial avenues. There are no specific regulations for PCP finance in Ireland and this increases the worry around this product, and it is often left in the hands of either dealer or borrower to ensure that all parties are fully informed. Naturally, seeing a brand new car at a low monthly cost can often cloud judgement, sometimes leaving buyers in more debt than the car was worth. This lack of regulation is troubling for both buyers and dealers as Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath recently stated:

“As of now, nobody in the CCPC [the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission], Central Bank or Department of Finance knows how many PCPs exist and, crucially, how many customers are defaulting.”

As with all industries there is the fear that a lack of regulations may lead to a serious slip in standards. PCP is obviously an attractive option for those wishing to stay abreast of the latest models and stay loyal to one manufacturer, but with so much uncertainty plaguing the ideologies of this finance option there can be no guarantees. Our advice is to ensure that you have all of the information available and if in doubt get a second opinion on the deal you are being offered to ensure that the payments are feasible and you will not be left struggling.

Should you require any help, guidance or assistance on any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Dublin in the Blue Corner

The now infamous term ‘Brexit’ (meaning Britain’s exit from the European Union for anyone that may have been actively avoiding the news in recent months) is one that has long been met with apprehension and uncertainty from our shores. As a relatively small country we find ourselves somewhat reliant on our larger neighbour for certain amounts of trade and, as such we have been unsure of what this move would mean for Ireland’s continuing recovery as well as our own trade options.

There seems to be good news on the horizon this week however, as it was announced that according to research from Ernst & Young’s London office, Dublin is now the most preferred Brexit location for financial services companies. A move in this direction would be an incredibly positive one for Ireland, with Dublin already being somewhat of tech hub with companies like social media giant Facebook choosing to have their European head office here. This also places Dublin ahead of Europe’s current financial centre, Frankfurt which is a major boost to how Dublin is perceived in the financial sector.

Whilst Dublin may only be slightly ahead of Frankfurt, this is a significant indicator of positive movement following Brexit as the survey included 222 banks and other institutions, showing that Dublin is being considered as a real and viable option for European trading following Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union. It is reported that 19 companies mentioned Dublin as a potential destination they would consider moving operations to following Brexit.

In recent months, Ireland has already won out over our competitor Frankfurt in securing banking giants such as Barclays to our shores. There is of course no commitment attached to these findings, but it is encouraging to know that Ireland is one of the first options to come to mind for financial services companies in these uncertain times.

It is both a time of excitement and uncertainty for Ireland as Brexit approaches and should these companies put their contingency plan into action we may well see some positive changes for our country come as a result of this upheaval.

Should you require any help, guidance or assistance on any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, or pay a visit to our new office where we are now all settled in and ready to be of assistance.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Unemployment Rates: How Low Can We Go?

Over the past couple of years the signs of Ireland’s recovery following the economic crisis have been increasingly positive. One important cornerstone of recovery is of course employment. Previously, we saw a situation in which there was an increasing rate of unemployment and an increase in qualified people seeking employment on other shores or taking on unpaid work they were overqualified for on our own shores in a desperate attempt to seek stable employment. This is a situation that both employers and workers would be loath to recreate.

In recent months, the unemployment rate in Ireland has been dropping at a steady rate which shows positive movement for Ireland’s continuing recovery, even in the wake of the Brexit panic. In June, the unemployment rate continued its downward trend going from May’s figure of 6.4% to 6.3%, which is a significant positive movement over the course of one month. Over the twelve months between June 2016 and June 2017 however, this figure has dropped from 8.3% to 6.3% according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) report.

In terms of actual figures, the unemployment rate has dropped by 42,100 people over the course of one year which is of course a move in the right direction for all. EMEA economist for Indeed, Mariano Mamertino has been quoted as saying that the Irish unemployment rate is on track to fall below 6%:

“Ireland remains on a clear trajectory for unemployment to fall below 6pc in the coming months, which bodes well in terms of the likelihood of increased consumer spending and retails sales as more people take home a weekly pay cheque.”

This, of course is encouraging news for all businesses particularly those in the retail sector who are expected to see an increase in business in the coming months. The unemployment rate in Ireland remains lower than some EU countries, but is moving in the right direction for recovery.

Naturally, the swift and continuing downward movement of the unemployment rate causes some minor concerns as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has stated his concern over the possibility of more jobs being available than there are workers to fill them in the future. In his opinion, the unemployment rate looks likely to fall below 5.5% which would be both an “extraordinary achievement” and a cause for concern as it would be possible Ireland would “experience capacity constraints.” It has however been stated that this is merely a potential situation and not one that is envisioned to come to pass, so we can carry on celebrating the continuing recovery of our economy

Should you require any help, guidance or information on these or any other financial and business matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Business, Size Matters

We are constantly reiterating the importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the Irish economy, and with good reason. SMEs make up over half of all Irish business and have begun to form the backbone of our economy in recent years. Unfortunately SMEs are also often the most difficult businesses to get off the ground and keep running in the current changing economic climate. This is why our recent newsletter focus has been largely targeted to providing information on newly available funding and assistance for these vital businesses. Today we will be discussing the new Companies (Accounting) Act of 2017 and what this means for SMEs.

The Companies (Accounting) Act 2017 was brought into effect as of Friday, June 9th 2017. According to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation this new act may free up some much needed time for SMEs as it should reduce their financial reporting obligations allowing this time to be used to further the business in other ways.

Importantly and interestingly for owners of small businesses, this Act is due to create significant changes to the creation of what is known as a ‘Micro Company’. In order to be classified as a Micro Company, a business must not have a turnover exceeding €700,000, a balance sheet exceeding €350,000 or average employee numbers exceeding 10. In return, being classified as a Micro Company offers the company a number of benefits including there being no obligation to file a director’s report and exemptions from disclosing director’s remuneration.

Some companies previously defined as Medium may under this act be redefined as Small whilst some companies previously defined as small may be redefined as Micro due to a change in the thresholds for qualification for these categories. In addition, any companies which are redefined as Small Businesses will need only file abridged financial statements, provided their turnover does not exceed €12million, their balance sheet does not exceed €6million and their average number of employees does not exceed 50.

It is possible that conversely, some Medium and Large companies may find themselves with a greater level of financial reporting than previous under these new thresholds so we would heavily advise studying the changes this act poses in detail and knowing the new status of your business thoroughly as well as the new financial reporting requirements associated with this definition.

Should you require any further information, guidance or assistance on these or any other business or financial issues please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to be of assistance.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Supernanny Tax

Recently, the Revenue Commissioners have collected approximately €61million in taxes, penalties and interest during their ongoing investigation of over 800 medical consultants. It is believed that there was a significant underpayment of taxes by 276 consultants who had incorporated their private medical practices and other companies. These investigations are currently ongoing and to date, 36 consultants have been published on the Revenue’s list of tax defaulters. The findings include so-called “future uplift” or the estimation of future taxes collected.

Chairman of the Revenue, Niall Cody has been recently quoted as saying of the investigation:

“These are high-wealth individuals. These are people with significant incomes and there has been significant underpayment of taxes.”

This investigation has been underway since 2010, when Revenue suspected that a wrongful tax planning strategy was being marketed towards medical consultants. The incorporation of medical practices can be a legal form of tax avoidance, however many of the practices registered have been found to have no commercial reality, positioning these particular practices in the realm of illegal tax avoidance.

The chairman was also quoted as saying that these individuals had seemingly forgotten the “legitimate boundaries” in relation to tax matters and had wrongfully claimed expenses that were either non-existent or not relevant to the business they were claimed against. Nanny costs and private home expenses were among the expenses wrongfully claimed in some cases. Other issues identified are wages paid to underage family members. Mr Cody explained that in one case expenses were claimed for the services of a child working on a website “because the child was proficient in IT and the consultant wasn’t.”

825 cases have been opened in this investigation, with 552 cases now closed. In all cases closed to date it has been found that the consultants were not in fact acting in goodwill and were evading taxes wilfully and under full knowledge.

Wages were paid to underage family members by some consultants. Mr Cody described one case in which the expenses were claimed for the services of a child for work on a website, “because the child was proficient in IT and the consultant wasn’t.”

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association and tax advisers have asked Revenue to publish guidance on goodwill for medical practices.

Mr Cody was also quoted as explaining that if it seems too good to be true it is probably unethical which is a good rule for your tax matters. If you require any further guidance or advice on your own tax or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

PAYE UP

In recent years life and business have been taking a turn for the seemingly more convenient with it becoming increasingly easy to complete important tasks and meet deadlines remotely or via phone. Banking too became more convenient with online banking beginning to take over and allowing customers to complete many banking transactions online. Similarly, issues like tax submission etc. have become more convenient with the advent of online systems and the availability of important submission forms to download.

The Revenue website is one area which has been making a marked move towards online services with many day-to-day checks and queries being able to be answered via the ‘myAccount’ area of the Revenue website. This week, Revenue have announced that development of the myAccount system is ongoing and that there would be changes imminent in the coming weeks, which we felt might be relevant to you.

Revenue have announced that from the middle of June, their PAYE anytime service would no longer be available. This is due to the ongoing works on the website and the findings that the service is not easily accessible on mobile devices. This shows a very marked belief in progress as the need to have all services easily accessed via a tablet or smartphone showcases our current and continued reliance on these devices. The PAYE anytime service was released in 2005 and has certainly served its time and purpose well but it is time to move on.

PAYE business will now be completed via myAccount through newly enhanced PAYE Services, easily accessed on all mobile devices. Interestingly, this will also be available through the very modern RevApp allowing you to have your tax issues and queries resolved at the push of a button.

Through these new services you will be able to:

  • Manage your tax 2017.
  • Review your tax 2013 – 2016.
  • Request an End of Year Statement (P21).
  • Add a Job or Pension.
  • View your Tax Credit Certificates and End of Year Statements (P21).

The new Revenue website will be available to view from early June on all mobile devices and PCs, we are never ones to complain about convenience.

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on your own tax or other business and financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Score One for SMEs

For the past few months, the term Brexit has acted as somewhat of a Bogeyman figure looming over many Irish business as the haze of uncertainty for what a British exit from the European Union would mean for Irish borders and trade with the UK, on which many companies rely. Perhaps the most concerning idea for Irish businesses would be what this would mean for Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We have spoken at length in the past about how important the SME sector is in Irish business, forming the backbone of our economy, and how vital it is to protect these types of businesses in changing times. Many Irish SMEs rely on business with the United Kingdom and so a cloud of uncertainty and insecurity has plagued the sector in recent months.

 

Recently, we have spoken about new funding opportunities coming to light for SMEs and this week it appears that the future may be beginning to look even brighter for these vital enterprises. The Minister for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen has urged SMEs and micro businesses to turn to their Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) for information about a range of supports now available to them. A newly announces suite of Brexit supports is now available to SMEs and microbusinesses through their Local Enterprise Offices which include

  • Access to the ‘Brexit SME Scorecard’ online tool where micro and smaller businesses can self-diagnose their readiness for Brexit – A vital planning tool which may assist many small businesses.
  • A ‘Technical Assistance for Micro-enterprises’ grant to help LEO clients to find new markets and exports.
  • Rollout of ‘Lean for Micro’ nationwide which will make small businesses more efficient and competitive.
  • A ‘LEO Innovation and Investment Fund’ pilot programme to support innovation in micro-enterprises and get them investor ready to scale their businesses.
  • Tailored mentoring to address Brexit related business challenges.
  • Training on specific Brexit challenges, including financial aspects.

As you can see from this list, these supports are specifically aimed at providing information and a framework of support and guidance for these businesses to utilise when navigating the uncertain times ahead. Minister Breen was quoted as saying of the support:

“I am delighted to announce this suite of important Brexit supports which will be available for small and medium enterprises. It is imperative that micro and small businesses have the tools and supports needed to navigate through what is uncharted territory. This is part of the Government’s Brexit planning and I am very pleased that my Department through Enterprise Ireland has been able to accelerate the rollout of these new LEO offerings worth up to €3.4 million, and I urge small and micro business owners to get in touch with their LEO to see how they can help.” 

These supports focus heavily on planning ahead which will be vital in the coming months for all businesses. Should you require further information, guidance or assistance please give us a call.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Are you Talkin’ to SME?

We have spoken in the past about the dearth of financing options for Small and Medium Enterprises in Ireland following the recession. Recently, there seems to be a push towards recognising the importance of SMEs as the backbone of our economy and as such, the need for available funding to ensure their continued success.

One such form of funding of which Ireland has seen very little in recent years is ‘Peer to Peer’ (P2P) lending. The term might bring flashbacks of desperately attempting to download your favourite songs on a dial-up connection but rest assured this is a far more functional process. Peer to Peer lending is now one of the most popular methods of funding a business or idea (think Kickstarter, IndieGoGo etc. these options are also known as ‘crowdfunding’). The process allows ordinary individuals with cash to invest be ‘matched’ with a business seeking finance. The entire process is done online which reduces overhead costs and generally makes for a smoother and cheaper lending process for both parties.

One such Irish Peer-to-Peer lender, Linked Finance has recently received full authorisation by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to allow the company to enter into the UK Market. Linked Finance’s CEO Niall Dorrian was quoted as saying the following about the authorisation:

“I am very pleased that we have secured full FCA approval. It puts us ahead of the curve in terms of preparing for any regulation of the sector in Ireland. It also demonstrates to lenders and borrowers here at home that Linked Finance operates to the highest standards.”

The authorisation is well timed for Linked Finance as our own Department of Finance has initiated a public consultation process with the view of imposing some regulations on Peer-to-Peer lending in Ireland, aiming to make this a safer process for all parties. The UK already has a comprehensive regulatory procedure with regard to P2P lending, and it is thought that Irish practises will begin to follow suit as P2P lending grows in popularity here. The UK also already has many options in place for funding SMEs which Ireland may eventually follow suit on given that these enterprises make up such a large chunk of our business.

Linked Finance have already facilitated more than €25m in loans to Irish SMEs and it is hoped that in the future there will be a marked increase in lending options for SMEs as they continue to be the backbone of our economy. Linked Finance in particular hope that any kind of regulation will be a help to the sector rather than a hindrance as CEO Dorrian has said:

“Any regulation of the sector in Ireland should seek to encourage, rather than inhibit, further diversification within the financial landscape.”

For now, at least, times seem to be changing positively for Irish SMEs and long may this last.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY