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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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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

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

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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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

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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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Offshore Disclosure Notification

It can often be difficult to remain abreast of changes to procedures in the financial sector if your business is not operating within this sector. Unfortunately it is essential to be aware of any changes which may affect your business operations.

The Finance Bill 2016 introduced a number of changes relating to Qualifying Disclosures made to the Revenue Commissioners regarding existing offshore assets as well as offshore income and gains. In recent days the Revenue Commissioners have been issuing correspondence regarding these changes in order to keep businesses informed ahead of the changes being put into place, so it is important to read all information carefully to ensure you understand these changes.

These new changes will be in effect from May 1st 2017 and will relate to disclosure which includes any of the below outside of the Republic of Ireland.

  • Income or gains arising or accruing outside of the Republic of Ireland.
  • Relevant accounts – applies to both bank accounts and share accounts.
  • Relevant property.

These changes mean that any disclosures made to the Revenue Commissioners from May 1st 2017 onwards relating to offshore assets, income or gains will not be afforded any mitigation of penalties, meaning that the penalty will be 100% of the underpaid tax. Disclosures made before this date will benefit from the usual mitigation of penalties imposed by Revenue. This can often significantly reduce the amount payable. As such, waiting until after this date can result in a significantly higher payment being due and we would advise against waiting in order to reduce this risk.

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

Kick Bills before Buckets

With Irish people now beginning to get a foothold on the property ladder later in life, we are also beginning to start families slightly later and as such, thoughts often turn to what provisions can be made for your family in the unfortunate event of your death. Whether sudden or prolonged the death of a loved one has devastating emotional consequences so it is advisable to think ahead and do all that you can to avoid there also being devastating financial consequences. It’s a fairly morbid thought to begin the year with but we are big believers in thinking ahead and there are dangers to be found in ignoring the inevitable.

 

It is advisable to think ahead and to have your affairs in order in so far as possible at all times and at the very least to know what would happen to your existing finances or your current payments in the event of your passing. We might all have hated those conversations our parents would begin about the event of their death, but they are wise to open these discourses to avoid burying our heads in the sand. Having your affairs in order could prevent causing additional pain to your loved ones at an already emotionally painful time.

 

Something which is often overlooked are bank accounts. Whilst many of your debts will pass away with you, bank accounts are not among these. Your bank account will continue to issue payments etc. as usual until informed of the death, so it is advisable to ensure that someone is aware of all of your accounts as they may then be liable to take over a debt they were unaware of, or the account could be left running into difficulty. By contrast, the advantage of a joint account means that all funds can pass directly to the named survivor on the account.

 

Credit Union accounts are another issue which surviving loved ones are often unaware of as your loved ones might be able to avail of a pay out from your credit union savings following your death due to a little known life insurance scheme which accompanies your credit union account as well as being able to avail of any savings you have made. Credit Union loans differ from most as they will typically be cleared upon the death of the account holder.

 

The most crucial manner in which people fail to keep their loved ones up to date on their financial matters is their debts and loans. Many debts or unpaid loans will simply pass to your estate and interest will continue to accumulate on these until paid in full, causing a further headache for your family in what is already a difficult time, debts can even be recovered from existing accounts leaving loved ones without access to these previously available funds, whilst your estate can be liable for any remaining balance.

Mortgages can be problematic, some banks allow a moratorium following a borrower’s death although interest may continue to accumulate so it is wise to check your options in advance so all parties are aware of the situation, and to ensure your mortgage protection is full and up to date.

Having a current up-to-date list of your accounts and investments and ensuring that someone has the information or access to this information to avoid further heartache at a difficult time. Though these issues may feel morbid to bring up, they are vital to ensure that your loved ones can live on as comfortably as possible.

Should you require any assistance or guidance on these or any other financial or business matters please do not hesitate to get in touch or arrange a meeting with us.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

January is often a time of financial uncertainty for many people as the spending sprees of December leave somewhat of a hole in the pockets and we begin to add to our savings once more. The January sales offers a slight boost to the retail sector during this slump, while for the rest of us they tend to have the opposite pocket-emptying effect. Business lending, however seems to be in full swing in 2017 already. As we discussed towards the end of last year, there was to be somewhat of a new focus on lending in the SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) sector, a sector that found itself sorely left behind and without many financing options available to them whether starting up their business or expanding into bigger and better things.

As predicted, lending to the SME sector has been steadily increasing in recent months, rising by over 5% when comparing the 2016 summer months to the same period in 2015. When comparing the summer months of 2015 with those of 2016, lending to SMEs in the manufacturing sector had increased by approx. 37% and the hotel and restaurant sector by approx. 25%. It has also been found that the rate of loan defaults in particular in the SME sector has dropped from 41% in 2013 to 24% in 2016.

As always it is wise to take these positive findings with a pinch of salt for anyone in the SME sector as there currently tends to always be a down side. In the case of the new availability of lending and the increase in same within the SME sector, the double edged sword of lending has also come with a higher cost of credit than most European countries, possibly due in part to the previous lack of availability. Similarly, with the new availability of lending options, rejection rates are also on the increase with the latest Central Bank loan data showing an increase in the rejection rate from 11% to 16%. Interest rates are also showing to be higher on smaller loans so it is advisable to take into account all of your available financing options before making a commitment to one to ensure that you are getting the best deal for your business and also signing up for a financing option which is sustainable for you.

Rachel McGovern of PIBA financial brokers has been quoted as stating that these findings point to an existing lack of competition in Ireland stating that

“More needs to be done to support Irish SME growth, and the state needs an urgent analysis of what is keeping competitive forces out of the Irish lending market.”

As always, we are big supporters of the SME sector and welcome any changes which will assist this sector to grow and flourish. Should you require any help, guidance or advice for your own newfound or burgeoning SME, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be delighted to be of assistance.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

FUNDING THE WAY IN THE DARK

Following the economic downturn, one of the largest business groups to suffer were Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). A key component of these types of businesses is often their reliance on funding options and flexible payment terms in order to gain and keep a decent foothold in their area of business. Following the Irish economic crisis, many SMEs were unable to continue their operations due to a reduced availability of finance options. This lack of financing availability also meant that many start-ups were unable to get off the ground during this time.

 

 

Now that the Irish financial situation is apparently on the up, there has been an increased focus by funders and the government on entrepreneurship and SMEs. This is a fantastic starting point and is largely due to the fact that these types of businesses make up for over half of all Irish businesses, and have become somewhat of a backbone for Irish businesses. Recently, it has been reported that more funding options will soon be returning to the Irish market targeting SMEs in particular.

The welcome news recently for Irish SMEs is that one such form of financing which disappeared is set to make a comeback to the Irish market. Supplier Finance is now once again an available option in Ireland, offering financially secure Irish SMEs this method of paying key suppliers whilst accessing previously unavailable cash flow. Supplier Finance is said to be an ideal additional top-up for companies who have hit their banking limit as it will not interfere with any already existing funding plans.

Also known as supply chain finance optimises cash flow by allowing businesses to extend payment terms to suppliers whilst ensuring that suppliers are paid in full. This creates an optimal environment for both buyer and supplier. The additional benefit of this form of finance which lead to its popularity during boom times was that it allows the supplier access to additional cash flow that would otherwise be tied up elsewhere and minimises the risk of financial issues elsewhere in the payment chain.

 

 

Supplier finance is different to other finance options in that it is not a loan, but rather an extension of the accounts and is not considered to be a debt, suppliers receive full payment for their products. This makes supplier financing a very attractive option for a great many financially stable Irish SMEs.

Financially secure companies who have not been suitable for options such as Invoice Finance will be able to avail of this funding option which will be a welcome change for those in difficult to fund sectors.

Should you require any more information, advice or guidance on these or any other business or financial issues, please do not hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants where we will be happy to be of service.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY