The Housing Market – What’s Next?

The housing crisis in Ireland is something about which we have spoken at length in the past. Between the mortgage rules and rising cost of rent excluding many from the market and the increasing cost of buying in general, this area has become quite the minefield in recent terms for anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to secure their house before prices began to climb. This week, it was announced that house prices in certain areas had dropped slightly for the first time in an age. The fact that this led to a giant exhale of relief is quite telling of the current market, as such a small event sparks a small level of hope for those currently saving to meet the lending rules. It seems from recent reports that prospective buyers have grown tired of being excluded from the narrative.

It was reported this week following a Sunday Independent opinion poll that almost three quarters of people currently saving for a mortgage believe the Central Banks mortgage lending rules to be incredibly unfair. This is a marked rise of 19% from last year’s findings and shows an atmosphere of dissatisfaction with the status quo in the housing market. It was also found that as few as 5% of those saving feel that the lending rules are fair. The study also found that more people are now saving for a mortgage than last year. Almost half of those surveyed stated that they didn’t feel the banks are doing enough to assist people in gaining a mortgage.

There was also a fairly strong belief revealed through this study that the housing market may be headed for another crash in the coming years with over half of those currently saving believing that this will be the future for the Irish housing market. This believe naturally creates discord among savers about whether or not now is a good time to buy, with 43% believing that now is the right time to buy, and 39% believing that now is not the right time to purchase a house. As you can see there is not much between the two camps given their utterly opposing views. Perhaps this discord is the reason why there has been a slight drop off in house sales this year, with the CRO (Central Statistics Office) reporting that there has been a drop of almost 5% in the first half of this year outside of the Dublin area.

While nothing is certain, particularly during these uncertain times as Brexit continues to loom large above us, there are certainly signs of a downturn in the housing market in the next couple of years as many people struggle to get a foothold on the property ladder.

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Budget 2019

We constantly hear about how fast Christmas comes around each year and already selection boxes are appearing in our grocery stores and social media posts are being put up about how many weeks remain until Christmas. However, does anything really come around quicker than the Government’s yearly budget? It seems like only yesterday that we were giving you the main points on last year’s budget and now here we are again to break down the key points of this year’s budget. Indeed this year’s budget seems to have entirely crept up on us all, and slid into the world without much of a fanfare. So, what does Budget 2019 have in store for us all in the coming year?

SMEs

As you are aware, we are huge supporters of Irish Small and Medium Businesses so there was some welcome news announced in the budget.

A future Growth Loan Scheme for SMEs and those in the agriculture sector will be launched.

€110million in Brexit measures will be put in place.

Taxes and Wages:

  • There will be a reduction in the third rate of Universal Social Charge (USC) from 4.75 to 4.5%
  • The second rate band threshold for USC will increase from €19,372 to €19,874
  • An increase in the tax free threshold on transfers between parents of children will take the threshold from €310,000 to €320,000.
  • Weekly threshold for higher rate of employer’s PRSI will increase from €376 to €386.
  • Minimum wage to increase to €9.80 from January 1st.
  • VAT to increase from 9 to 13.5%.
  • Self-Employed individuals will receive a further €200 to their earned income tax credit.

Housing:

This has been a hot topic this year and something that has hit the headlines on numerous occasions. What action are the government implementing?

  • There will be €2.3billion allocated to the housing programme.
  • An additional €121million will be allocated to the Housing Assistance Payment.
  • €60million allocated to funding emergency accommodation and €30million allocated to homelessness services.
  • There will be funds allocated to a ‘Serviced Sites Fund’ which will aim to have local authorities begin to provide affordable housing.
  • Mortgage interest relied to be increased to 100% for landlords.

Social:

  • All weekly social welfare payments will increase by €5 from next March.
  • Christmas bonus to be fully restored this year.
  • From November 2019 a new parental leave scheme will offer 2 extra weeks leave to all parents in the first year of the child’s life. The aim will be to increase this to 7 weeks over time to bring Ireland more in line with other European countries.

The government have come under fire for this budget as it has been suggested that it doesn’t go far enough on crucial matters from climate change to tourism and national debt. This is however the first time that we have seen the national books balanced since 2007 so it is hopefully a step in the right direction.

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Cloud – How it can benefit your Business

Head in the Cloud

Today sadly brings us to the close of our mini-series of posts on digitising your business activities. We hope this series has been of benefit to you and we hope to be able to bring you more of these small segments in the future. This week our heads are well and truly still in the clouds… or THE CLOUD to be more specific, sure isn’t that where we are all looking to store our data at this point?

We have spoken recently about how a move to Cloud Computing and how this can be of benefit to your business. From ensuring higher security measures than storing files on your computer hard drive or in hard copy, to the general ease of access, there can be no doubting that Cloud Computing appears to be the way forward. Many people do pose the financial question however, will moving to The Cloud save money? The truth is that while it often does, this is not a guarantee but this should not dissuade you as the increased usability of your files will undoubtedly save you time, the second thing we often find ourselves short of.

To assist you with an easy transition to this new way of life, we have gathered the below list of considerations to take into account when creating your new Cloud Strategy:

  • Hardware investment decisions– when hardware is up for refresh it is an ideal time to look at whether you can save money/increase flexibility by moving to the cloud.
  • Connectivity – is there available bandwidth that is reliable and secure to facilitate access to cloud technologies?
  • Application suitability – are your core applications ready for a move to the cloud? Are some more suitable than others? What would your migration roadmap look like if you phase your move?
  • Public versus private cloud – the pace of technology change means that private clouds can easily become defunct or run into performance issues, it can often be as limiting as servers onsite as, you are tied to the decisions made at a moment in time. Public cloud investment from companies like Microsoft means not only migrating to the cloud, but an ongoing cycle of optimisation through advancements in the platform.
  • Core versus context – choosing to migrate to the cloud with a trusted partner means that you can have your internal staff focus on what is core to your business, rather than managing infrastructure, back-ups etc.
  • Risk management – a move to the cloud is an ideal time to review your business continuity arrangements, cloud can open up a degree of redundancy that would be impossible to achieve as a single small/medium organisation.
  • Staff productivity – desktop cloud tools afford staff a greater opportunity to collaborate, offer larger storage capacity and remove the need for inhouse management of servers.

 

We hope this has been of use to you and will assist you in creating the best digital strategy for your business. Thank you to our friends at INNOVATE for being a fountain of knowledge on this topic and for sharing this with us. Should you wish to engage their services for your own Cloud Strategy don’t hesitate to get in touch with them and as always for all other business and financial queries, our door is always open here at Ecovis DCA.

 

The Cloud – How it can benefit your Business

Up on Cloud Number 9

Following on from last week, we will this week be continuing our series on bringing your business into the digital age, taking you through the basics of Cloud Computing so that we can keep our clients informed. Last week we focused on the definition of Cloud Computing, as well as the ways to take those first hesitant steps into the digital world. This week, we have decided to focus on the ways in which Cloud Computing can ultimately benefit your business. According to digital professionals, the Cloud is not a place, but a business strategy.

As business in general moves into a more digital space, it is of course advisable to endeavour to be

moving with the times, as difficult as this may be for businesses who have not used the digital model in the past. As intimidating as it can be, there are a great many benefits inherent to cloud technology as a business model going forward, and though your board of director’s may not fully understand the concept at first, taking the first steps will lead to incredible rewards.

So how can you begin to convince an uncertain and perhaps slightly outdated board of directors that a move to the digital space is a step in the right direction? To begin with, it is advised to begin building a ‘Cloud Strategy’ as your first port of call, followed by a ‘Migration Plan’ which will enable you to ensure that you will be maximising the potential of the Cloud for your business, as well as identifying any inherent risks and implementing the appropriate security measures to protect your data. To begin the process, the following 4 steps are advised as your first stepping stones to full Cloud Computing.

  • Agree on a migration plan to manage risk and avoid business disruption
  • Identify the costs involved
  • Manage legacy applications
  • Implement appropriate security measures

It is also advised to hire a tried and trusted IT company to oversee these proceedings to ensure the safe transfer of any data and that your Company is utilising the capabilities of the Cloud to full effect.

We hope that this series on Cloud Computing is of benefit to you and your company and, as always, should you require any assistance or guideance on any business or financial matters, we here at EcovisDCA are always happy to help.

What is this Cloud they speak of?

There has been quite a lot of negativity making the headlines in recent months. At times the business world can seem filled with lists of what not to do with very little useable advice for anyone without immediate access to a time machine. Alongside this, constant changes to the day to day functioning of a business, with an emphasis on moving towards a more digital focus can create confusion when trying to merge with a standard business model. With this in mind, we have decided to bring you some vital information and advice on how to navigate the digital aspects of the business world.

One of the terms we hear over and over these days is “The Cloud”, everyone wanting to know what we have uploaded or backed up to “The Cloud” can often raise the wrong images for those not familiar with the terminology so over the next couple of weeks we will be going into detail about how “The Cloud” can benefit you and your business.

In simple terms, utilising the Cloud or ‘Cloud Computing’ essentially means the storing and accessing of date over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive. The Cloud itself is a network of servers, each one serving a different function. When looking to solve any problem, be it personal or business, we tend to reach out to our support network and in this way the Cloud is no different, acting as another support structure for you and your business.

According to professionals in the area, the below are some of the first stepping stones for getting your business onto the road of Cloud Computing. It could not be simpler to get your business moving into the digital age with ease:

  • Evaluate if a move to the cloud is right for your business
  • Learn how to build a cloud strategy plan that supports your business goals
  • Understand cloud investment models
  • How to optimise your existing cloud infrastructure
  • How to increase the reliability and flexibility of your IT infrastructure
  • Understand how cloud solutions can extend additional services to your customers and open new business opportunities
  • Which cloud-delivered security solutions offer the best protection against modern security threats
  • How cloud solutions can support your business continuity plans
  • Practical steps to moving to the cloud, how to avoid business disruption, migration plans and piloting workloads

Should you feel that this would be a step in the right direction for your business, we would advise holding a training event for your staff to ensure everyone is aware of this new approach being taken.

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

PCP – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Personal Contract Plan (PCP) – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Recently, we spoke about PCP (Personal Contract Plan) finance options which have recently become so widely available. With today’s increasing cost of living this may be an incredibly attractive option for the majority who cannot afford an upfront payment on such luxury options as cars. This week, we have decided to follow up on this, with a view from the other side of the coin.

Whilst PCP Finance may seem like the ideal option, with its low deposit, low but long term repayments and the possibility of starting all over again with a new model at the end of your payment term. As we have recently discussed, these financing plans have become increasingly popular and more widely available in recent months, but while they are an attractive option, they are also unregulated and as recent reports suggest, may be heading into dangerous territory.

New research conducted recently by the Central bank seems to suggest that the model of PCP Financing may begin to create a finance bubble due to the wildly increasing popularity of this model over other financing options and cash purchase. It is estimated that at present, one in three cars is purchased via a PCP and we have certainly seen a larger amount of new cars drive off the forecourt since this option came about.

The issue arises once we consider the level of loans outstanding via these financing plans. In Ireland, it has been estimated that there is currently €1.5billion outstanding debt in car finance alone, an eye watering figure that makes a car purchasing bubble loom ever closer. It has recently been suggested that this industry needs to be regulated in order to prevent issues going forward, as we are already seeing issues arise in the housing market which we do not want to see repeated across the board. At present, PCP is the biggest growth market in the country (not including mortgage credit) and this creates an atmosphere of nervousness for an unregulated industry, particularly as the industry is not covered under the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code.

These are of course just the concerns which arise from our little island having been in the position of economic crisis in the past. We will always have a level of wary concern for anything that seems too good to be true. As always our advice remains to do your research before agreeing to any financing options, and ensure that the deal you get is the best deal for you and one which you can afford long term to avoid any issues.

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

 

What is a PCP loan?

We Would Use a Car Pun – But we’re Exhausted

All the recent talk about Ireland’s continued economic recovery can be somewhat hard to swallow when the benefits are not being felt in the pockets of the average worker, and it can be draining to work consistently on a punishing schedule of balancing work and family life while feeling as though there is no boost to your pocket and no disposable income.

Whilst we may continually hear year on year about more new cars being sold, it is still only a vast minority who would have the disposable income to purchase such a luxury item outright. This is where the option of PCP may be applicable. PCP finance is of course not the optimal route for everyone to go down to purchase a new vehicle, as with everything in life there is no ‘one size fits all’ fix unfortunately.

PCP is a Personal Contract Plan, which roughly translates as an agreement between yourself and a financing company (not necessarily within the car dealership themselves) in which you agree to make monthly payments on the car of your choosing for a set period (usually 3-5 years). What makes PCP financing such an attractive prospect to most, is that there is generally quite a low deposit in comparison to other car purchasing options, and the longer term also offers lower repayments.

A PCP plan is a simple and relatively no-nonsense solution to your car needs as it is split into three stages: Deposit, Payment Term and Final Payment.

Deposit:

This stage is the beginning of your contract wherein you will either pay a deposit to begin the contract or occasionally trade in your old vehicle as deposit. The larger the deposit, the smaller the repayments.

Payment Term:

This will be the period of 3-5 years during which you will make your monthly repayments. As the car is still technically under contract it will be important to ensure the car is kept well and undamaged as this may affect the final stage of the contract.

Final Payment:

Generally, for this stage there will be choices made available to you to either make the full lump sum payment (this figure will have been decided at the time of the contract), return the car with no further payments to be made, or occasionally a dealership will allow you to trade in the vehicle as a deposit off a newer model, which would then begin your payment term all over again. Final Payment may be dependent on the term of your contract and the finance company you are dealing with as not all plans will have a lump sum payment at the end.

Many PCP plans may include mileage and damage conditions, so it is vital to be aware of all details of your own plan before signing on the dotted line. PCP is relatively straightforward and there is little to no small-print to be aware of once your payments are made on time, and its lower deposit and repayments may make it a more attractive proposition to most than a hire-purchase agreement or loan. As always we would suggest using caution and ensuring that you have all information to hand before making the commitment, even if it is the car of your dreams.

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

Cyber Security – Protecting Against Invisible Threats

As a business owner, your primary concern will be for the continued safety and prosperity of your business. Despite the fact that we live in an increasingly digital age of constant connection, one area of security that often falls flat for businesses is that of Cyber Security. We often rest on our laurels and forget just how connected we all are on a daily basis and how easy a data breech can occur, and snowball into a critical issue. In recent months, the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines have somewhat brought the issue of online and data security to the forefront of business issues. Today we have decided to talk about the issue of cyber security and how you can best ensure the continued safety of your business.

While it may appear impossible to fight against such an enormous beast as the World Wide Web, there are in fact a great many measures that can be taken to ensure the security of your data. In recent months it has become increasingly regular that business payments may be made into incorrect bank accounts due to fraud as email is one area that is often the most easily compromised. As a result, it is imperative to ensure that all employees are aware of the dangers associated with unsolicited or incorrect emails. This is particularly vital in the case of SMEs, for which a breach could be fatal. We would advise ensuring that all employees are trained and aware of the dangers. We have compiled a few tips to assist you in this endeavour.

  • Create company-wide awareness of the data which most needs protection and how/where this data is stored.
  • Ensure that your company has a strong password policy in place and that each worker abides by the password requirements. Changing passwords regularly is also advised.
  • Have a plan in place should a breach occur.
  • Encrypt important confidential information to protect it from unauthorised access.
  • In some cases a privacy screen for monitors may be helpful.
  • Always check the email address from which a suspect email has come from. Often the email itself will seem like a genuine invoice, but the email address may give it away as fraudulent.
  • Use extra caution when dealing with any emails requesting payment.
  • Verify payments and payment details directly with the person who has requested them, it is better to do this outside of the email system.
  • Never open any suspicious emails containing attachments or links.
  • Use a reliable security software solution.
  • Never leave your wireless systems unprotected.
  • Ensure that only the necessary employees have administrative access.
  • Should your business bank details be compromised in any way, notify the bank immediately and also ensure that other companies you have dealt with are notified of the breach in case their own details may have also been compromised.
  • Stay ahead: The internet is an ever changing world, it is vital to stay aware of updated risks. It should never be assumed that a threat has passed and the business is entirely safe.

We hope that this will be of assistance in ensuring the continued cyber safety of your business.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

The Companies (Statutory Audits) Act

Louder than the Lions

The Companies (Statutory Audits) Act was officially enacted on July 25th 2018 following a lengthy period of concern and a debate on July 10th. This Act mostly focuses on implementing updated to the EU Audit directive and on implementing appropriate auditing legislation in Ireland.

Unfortunately, as tends to happen in Irish Business Law, there were some poorly thought out amendments made to this act which have been major causes for concern over recent weeks. One example of an area which was in dire need of clarification and change was in Sections 9 and 10 of the bill which removes the option to apply for exemptions after falling late (S. 343), and requires smaller companies to apply to the High Court for any exemptions. Previously, the CRO (Companies Registration Office) had themselves stated that it would be cost prohibitive to involve the High Courts in these matters, so evidently these were clauses which may create more issues than they were worth. It was originally thought that these new clauses were created in order to prevent repeat offences, but it was ultimately felt by business owners that this may not be the best way to deal with this issue, as Revenue themselves clamp down more effectively on these issues.

There have been many lobbying against these changes and reports suggest that this kind of major immediate change could have negative consequences on the smaller businesses which form the backbone of Irish businesses. It seemed that there would be no movement on these decisions as the Ministers seemed entirely steadfast in their decisions. This, along with numerous letters issued to local TD’s eventually lead to the debate of July 10th.

Following on from this debate there was finally some good news recently for accountants in practice as their voices were finally heard and it was decided that the proposed amendments were utterly inappropriate and not feasible. Companies who find themselves falling late can still make an application under S.343 for an exemption or to extend their filing date to avoid fees mounting up.

Should you have any concerns or queries about these or any other business and financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we are always happy to be of service.

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

Is The Economy Overheating?

Too Much of a Good Thing

When emerging blinking from the darkness of an economic crisis, such as the one Ireland experienced in the not so distant past, it becomes important to latch on to the positive steps in the right direction many of which we have spoken about in the past with new funding options being made available as well as a general increase in consumer confidence. Amidst all this good news there have of course arisen some issues such as the exponential rise in house prices and the general cost of living leaving many to question whether or not Ireland’s recovery will ever be felt in the average wallet. It’s important not to get too cocky or confident in the midst of a recovery as we have seen in the past than anything can happen with no notice.

These fears were somewhat verified this week as the Central Bank warned Ireland not to become complacent about recovery. Mark Cassidy, the Central Bank’s director of economics and statistics has warned that despite all signs pointing to continued strong growth and plenty of jobs being created, that there are many factors at play in the background that could possibly leave Ireland at risk of seriously overheating. Overheating refers to when growth begins to overtake ability to meet demand, something that we are already seeing some evidence of in our housing markets. From the possibility of a hard Brexit which we have spoken at length about to the recently discussed changes in international tax practises, there are many reasons to be wary and plenty of issues which threaten to place Ireland in an economically vulnerable state.

The Central Bank have issued several warnings in recent months that the risk of an external crisis causing issues for the Irish economy was high, but recently have announced that the possibility of an internal crisis is on the rise as Ireland begins to overheat. Last week, Central Bank officials postulated that it may be necessary for taxes to be increase in order to cool down our rapidly overheating economy.

The risk remains that if Ireland continues to recover at the same speed and manages to reach its full capacity for growth, it is of course a positive, but unless demand in various sectors begins to increase in conjunction with this, the risk of overheating and creating some form of downturn remains high.

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