The Links that make the Chain

Funding is something which is often at the forefront of every business owners mind. Whether yours is a large fully functioning company in need of some modernisation or upgrading or you are just starting out as an SME (Small or Medium Enterprise) and you require that extra financial push to get your fledgling business to leave the nest, finance is an essential part of business life. We would all like to think of ourselves as fully independent and to think of our business as being our baby, belonging only to us, but no company is an island and no company can exist and thrive in a vacuum, particularly during difficult financial times so seeking finance is often an ideal way to give your company an essential push to either get off the ground, or gain new ground for an existing company.

Recently, we have focused primarily on SMEs and we have discussed the newly widening availability of funding for these companies during Ireland’s continued recovery. Where in the past funding was a commodity in scarce supply, now there are more options available to choose from. This is welcome news for all business owners as gaining access to credit may be the ideal method to prevent your business from stagnating. Currently, many SMEs still struggle to gain finance and fail to realise the true potential of their business.

One new method of gaining funding comes from Linked Finance who pride themselves on connecting hard-working business owners with thousands of individual lenders, ordinary Irish people willing to lend to deserving companies who may otherwise not have the option of progressing. Linked Finance are happy to snip that tangle of red tape and reinvigorate P2P (Peer to Peer) lending to, in their own words

“Bring business lending back to basics; real people with savings lending to great local businesses at attractive interest rates.”

If bypassing the banks and gaining funding for your business through P2P lending sounds like something you could benefit then Linked Finance might be your first port of call. Providing approval for SME loans from €5000 to €250000 in just 8 hours, the process couldn’t be simpler. Your loan request will be auctioned to lenders and once approved by you, your funding can be processed within 48hours.

The requirements for Linked Finance are as follows:

  • Your business must be trading for 2 years
  • Have turnover in excess of €100,000
  • Positive cash flow
  • No history of missing payments
  • No outstanding judgements

Visit for more information.

Should you require any further guidance please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to assist you in starting 2018 on the right foot.

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PAYE Changes

Unfogging the Small Print

The new year period is a time of change each year and whilst so often many of our ‘New Year, New Me’ promises may not stick, there are certain changes in the financial field that are occurring this year that it would be easy to miss. As always, we want to keep you as fully informed as possible.

Until recently, some tax assessment was on what is known as the “earnings basis” and was calculated regardless of whether or not the income was paid to the individual during that assessment year. The PAYE system operates on what is known as the “receipts basis” as in the employer deducting tax from the income at the time of payment to employee. New changes to the Finance Act of 2017 will bring order to confusion and bring all in line with the PAYE system of operations, meaning that all assessments will be moved to the “receipts basis” of assessment.

Changes have been made to the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system from January 1st 2018 that not everyone may be aware of. As of the beginning of this year, the statutory basis of assessment for most employment income is the actual amount of income received, thus placing the basis of assessment for Schedule E income in line with the operation of PAYE.

Further changes will be in effect from January 1st 2019 including a further modernisation of the PAYE system. From next year, employers will be required to report relevant payroll data to Revenue no later than the date of payment to the employee. There will then be an automatic end of year review carried out on all PAYE customers for the year 2019 and subsequent years.

There are a number of exclusions to the receipts basis who will not see this change, proprietary directors will not be required to make this move, and where there is a PAYE exclusion order in place, no changes will occur. The changes will be required of all other employers and employees.

It is hoped that these moves will have a minimal or non-existent effect on employers, who will still be required to make the deductions when payments are made using the PAYE system. Similarly, this move should also not affect employee wages. As we have discussed in the past, Revenue are eager to clamp down on outstanding tax issues, and are now making the positive move to bring everything in line on a statutory basis and bring parity where there was confusion.

For further information, we advise reading through the recently published Tax and Duty Manual Part 05-01-08 found at the Revenue website at your leisure.

Should you require any further guidance please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to assist you in starting 2018 on the right foot.

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The Affordable Mortgage Scheme

The First Time Ever you saw your Own Home

We have spoken many times in the past about the ongoing increase in house prices and the ways that these rises combined with stricter mortgage rules have begun to effectively squeeze many first time buyers out of the market. Similarly, the rapid increase of rental costs has dampened many prospective buyers hopes as these costs make it increasingly difficult to get a deposit together. In recent years it has become very difficult to be a hopeful first time buyer, but it seems that there might be a blink of hope on the horizon for prospective buyers on lower incomes.

It was announced this week that the Government has set aside €200m to fund a new scheme entitled the Affordable Mortgage Scheme to offer relief to first time buyers on lower incomes. The scheme will see local councils offer mortgages at lower interest rates than the majority of lending banks and crucially, will be fixed for the duration of the loan. This is said to save buyers up to €10,000 over the duration of their mortgage. The scheme is set for a relatively immediate start, with a start date of February 1st and is sure to offer some hope for lower income buyers.

Interestingly, the scheme’s loan can be used for second –hand as well as new properties, and to build your own home. This is a departure from all other recent schemes which were available only to new homes, and did not apply to building your own home. Previously, there was a local authority mortgage scheme in place for those who had been previously turned down, but this was offered at a variable interest rate and did not offer the long term savings that the Affordable Mortgage Scheme promises.

Under this scheme first time buyers will have access to loans of up to €288,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2.25% for 30 years. This offers first time buyers the security of knowing their repayments for the duration of their mortgage. Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said of the scheme:

“What this means essentially is that a person or couple can purchase a home, while ensuring that they can still keep their monthly repayments to one-third of their net disposable income – with no risk of their mortgage rate rising and so no threat to their ability to afford repayments, giving them certainty and security.”

The loan will be subject to the same lending rules as the banks, in that buyers will require a 10% deposit on the property. Buyers will need to have evidence of being turned down by two lenders and there is also an income cap of €50,000 per year for single buyers and €75,000 per year for joint buyers. There will also be a limit on the overall price of the home as in the Greater Dublin, Cork and Galway areas the maximum market value of the property cannot exceed €320,000 whilst elsewhere in the country this limit will be €250,000.

Should you require any guidance on any financial or business matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to assist.

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Remembering the Importance of Saving

Don’t Break the (Piggy) Bank

As January gets into full swing and we all settle back into the daily grind of working life, some of our New Year resolutions may be left behind or pushed aside in favour of those resolutions promising more longevity or better return of investment. High on people’s lists of resolutions is often the vow to save more money in the coming year. Whilst the increasing cost of living might make this quite a difficult task, it is often one of the most rewarding resolutions as the results can be clear to see. We have spoken recently about some of our top tips for saving in the New Year, and it seems like you will not be alone in your savings endeavours.

The Bank of Ireland Savings and Investment Index, published on 15th January shows that over half of Irish consumers were regularly saving during the December period. December is of course a rather difficult time for savings, and this sentiment was also reflected in the findings. Tom McCabe, global investment strategist with Bank of Ireland Investment Markets was quoted as saying:

“”Irish sentiment towards savings and investments eased in December mainly as a result of a weaker outlook for the savings and investment environment. This may be temporary given recent trends in the index but could also be an early indication that savers are looking for better returns on their money and are willing to consider alternatives to their savings account.”

This shows that although Irish consumers are continuing to save, there is a lingering fear that savings are no longer generating enough of a return in their traditional savings methods. This may see a shift in the Irish market towards investments rather than traditional saving. The Index found that 34% of Irish consumers also invested regularly during the month of December, much like the savings findings this could be either temporary or indicative of a new trend in Irish savings.

Hinting towards this being a possible new Irish trend is the fact that investments were more prevalent in the younger generation with 39% of under 50s regularly investing whilst only 26% of over 50s were found to be investing during the same period. Perhaps unsurprisingly, investment numbers were higher in November than December, which is to be expected as December is often a month in which consumers have less disposable income.

These findings also found that the Irish population have a strong preference towards saving should they encounter any windfall gain, but also a new move towards considering investments with windfall amounts.

Should you require any help or guidance on any savings, investments, business or personal finance matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA.

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Bad Investment Makes no Cents.

We have spoken at length in the past about various forms of funding and investment in business and the importance of the availability of funding for all businesses in particular small and medium enterprises who may rely on outside funding. Something which is rarely touched upon is the importance of choosing the right investor for your business, and one which can go the distance alongside your company. Failure to choose a sustainable investor can cause serious problems for both your business and the investor.

This issue is especially important this week as it was revealed that many Irish investment firms have been found to have failed to meet the required standard of investors by the Central Bank of Ireland. The bank recently conducted a review of suitability requirements for investment firms and found many companies to be sorely lacking, which is not encouraging news for business owners wishing to secure funding. Michael Hodson, Director of Asset Management has been quoted as saying of the findings:

“The review highlighted that firms need to improve the quality of information collected and how this information is utilised in the suitability process. With the introduction of higher suitability standards, the quality of the information collected is all the more significant.  Boards are reminded that they are responsible for implementing an appropriate governance framework that meets the suitability regulatory requirements and embeds a client-centric culture across the firm.  Investor protection is at the core of the Central Bank’s mandate.” 

The review found that many firms were unable to demonstrate that the required suitability policies and procedures were implicated whilst also pointing out that many application forms were incomplete. Some firms were also found to be reliant on self-assessment alone and had little to no tools in place for assessing suitability for investment, relying heavily on technology. In perhaps the most worrying finding, many companies were found to have nothing in place for dealing with potentially vulnerable clients and companies.

Thankfully, the Central Bank assure companies that in any areas that the findings may be damaging to consumers formal supervisory requirements have been implemented which should reduce risk greatly for prospective clients.

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

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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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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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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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Granting your Switch Wish

It is obvious that the changing mortgage rules have made it more difficult for first time buyers to enter the property market in recent years. Despite recent changes allowing for a decrease in the necessary deposit required (abolishing the 225,000 cap on a 10% deposit) the continuing rise in house prices has all but ruled many first time buyers out of the market for the foreseeable future. An issue which affects many but has seen much less column inches is the issue of switching your mortgage to another bank. This is something which has been increasingly difficult to accomplish in recent years with the ever changing financial market, but there may be a distant light at the end of the tunnel for those wishing to switch their mortgage in the future to reduce their repayments.

The Central Bank has recently stated that it will be considering imposing new rules which will make it easier for people to switch their mortgage to another lender. This exciting development follows recent research by Behaviour and Attitudes which found that only 4% of mortgage holders had switched to a new lender. Switching your mortgage to another lender can often result in a reduction in your repayments and other benefits as your needs grow and change in your home.

The proposal by the Central Bank would ensure that banks must offer greater clarity to their borrowers to ensure that they have all the information available regarding switching, something which is sorely lacking in the current market. There is also a suggestion that the banks will be required to ensure that borrowers have all the information regarding switching mortgage product and the associated costs of this.

The fact that so many of those surveyed had never even considered changing their mortgage is surprising given that Ireland’s variable mortgage rates have been found to be among the highest in the Eurozone. Lenders do not currently offer enough accessible information about these issues and as such it is not something at the forefront of buyer minds. Acting Deputy Governor Bernard Sheridan has been quoted as saying:

“It is clear that lenders could be doing more to facilitate consumers who are thinking about switching.”

The Central Bank suggests these new changes will be beneficial as over 109,000 people could save money by switching mortgages and will reportedly publish a paper later in the year in which these proposals will be set out.

Should you require any help, guidance or advice on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Ecovis DCA where our dedicated advisors will be delighted to be of assistance.

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Taking the Fear out of Arrears

Following on from the economic crisis and the subsequent increase in the cost of living and decrease in available work, many thousands of Irish people have been left in mortgage arrears which is a very stressful and uncertain position to be in. As the country begins to regain its financial footing there are of course increases in finance options, but up until this point many Irish householders may have found it quite difficult to avail of advice on these matters during what is of course a difficult financial time.

Recently, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar announced an awareness campaign to promote Abhaile, a free mortgage arrears support service which many of those struggling were unaware of.

This news follows a survey which found that many struggling with mortgage arrears are too embarrassed to tell their family and friends about their ongoing issues. This in itself is incredibly problematic as the weight of these issues alone can cause isolation, depression and other mental health difficulties. As such, it is essential that all homeowners who find themselves in arrears should have someone to speak to. That is the service that Abhaile hope to provide. Tánaiste Fitzgerald has stated that despite falling numbers, there are still approximately 34,500 people in this country in long-term arrears. These are the people they hope to reach with this new campaign as it also emerged that over two thirds of people did not know that there were any services available to them to discuss these issues. Minister Varadkar was quoted as saying:

“It’s our firm hope we’ll bring forward thousands more people who are now in need of similar help. The key message is to come forward and seek the help that you need. Don’t be afraid, help is available at no cost and we’re on your side.”

Whilst the fact that the number of repossession cases has halved in recent years is indeed positive news, it is also essential that those still struggling be aware of all of the assistance at their disposal to ensure that these rates continue to fall in the coming years so that we can see a significant reduction in people feeling alone in these issues. It was also revealed that those in long-term arrears are those least likely to seek advice or assistance as they may feel that their situation is hopeless.

Angela Black of the Citizens Information Board has said:

“What we’re doing is asking members of the public to go out there and take a look around at their family and friends and people who might look ok on the surface but who are struggling behind closed doors with mortgage arrears. They might not realise they have access to this free expert financial and legal advice. Family and friends can play a vital role in encouraging people to look for help”

The Abhaile service has assisted 4,500 people since it became fully operational last October.

The Abhaile scheme is administered by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

Its helpline, which is open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm is 0761072000.


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