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Brexit, the first signs of its impact?

Stall the Ball

As we head into the Autumn months, Britain’s planned exit from the European Union in October looms ever larger, and the expected repercussions for Ireland and Irish trade with the United Kingdom remain in question. As we have discussed previously, preparation is key for this massive change as we are sure to see some impact on our shores.

It was suggested this week that we might already be seeing signs of Brexit fears creeping in. This is unsurprising as thus far we have had no definite answers and many time extensions. With a set time now on the table, the situation becomes instantly more real and as a result, we will begin to see fears seep into the world of trade in Ireland.

Despite the fact that latest employment figures show that employment increased by 2% in the 12 months to the end of June. On the surface this might seem like further good news for our continued economic recovery as growth in any area is undoubtedly positive. However, this is the slowest growth in employment we have seen since the beginning of 2013, hinting at the first true sign of Brexit fears among employers. Growth is naturally always a good thing, but here we see a serious slowdown of growth alongside a very small fall in employment figures (a 1% drop) showing that the looming ghost of Brexit is starting to solidify in the minds of Irish employers as a real threat.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue has dismissed any notion that Brexit and this slowdown may be connected but interestingly pointed out other areas of the economy which are being affected by Brexit concerns, stating:

“If you look at the half overall in the numbers they show annual employment growth overall of over 40,000 jobs in our country […] They show more people at work than we’ve ever had and indeed they show more people moving to Ireland to work in our economy. So, for all those reasons the trend in quarter two I don’t see reflecting Brexit points for now. […] But I would acknowledge that there is a growing reserve in consumer sentiment and investment point of view regarding the effect that Brexit might have on the economy both now and in the future,”

There are conflicting reports over whether the two can truly be connected as there are currently so many outside forces at play that can affect the Irish economy, but the general consensus is that it is as always something to be wary of and take into account moving forward into an uncertain future.

Should you have any queries or concerns on any business or financial matters please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to be of service.

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The EORI – In Advance of Brexit

What’s Your Number?

As you will all know, we have spoken many times over the past year about Britain’s exit from the European Union, the term ‘Brexit’ has been utilised so often by so many people over the past few months that it has almost lost all meaning, with various extensions making the exit seem more like a myth than an impending reality. With so much uncertainty surrounding our position in this puzzle it has been quite difficult to predict where we will stand, with a ‘Hard Brexit’ with Irish borders becoming more and more likely as the months go on. There are a couple of things that we do know for certain, by virtue of the rules surrounding the European Union, today we will be focusing on one such change which will directly affect all companies with trade dealings with the United Kingdom.

Following the eventual Brexit, there will be a new requirement for all Irish companies trading with the UK. From October, any company trading with the UK will need an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) Number in order to trade. This number is a requirement for all traders who import or export goods into or out of the European Union, the number is valid throughout the EU and is used as a reference number for customs authorities within any EU member state. As the United Kingdom will soon exist outside of the boundaries of the European Union, this number will now be a requirement for all Irish companies trading with the UK.

You can obtain your EORI number online via the Revenue website, and there is also an eLearning tool available regarding the EORI numbers on the European Commission website. If you are not already familiar with this system prior to Brexit, we would suggest making full use of these resources in advance so that you understand the requirement and are prepared well in advance of any changes due to Brexit coming into effect.

In order to utilise the Revenue service to set up your new EORI number you will need the following:

  • Revenue Online log in details.
  • A valid Revenue Online Services (ROS) digital certificate.
  • A registration for customs and excise in ROS (if you do not have this, you will need to register for customs and excise before beginning the EORI process.).

The Revenue Online System will then take you through the rest of the process. Should you have any concerns or queries about any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to be of service.

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When Planning Ahead, Never Forget the Danger of Recession…

As the summer season enters full swing and we begin to see the summer sale signs crop up in all the high street stores, it would be easy to fall into the trap of believing that Irish businesses are fully safe from the dangers of recession and financial instability for the foreseeable future. As we see consumer spending continue to remain strong, it is easy to overlook the many stores and businesses closing and falling victim to financial difficulty.

Although it has now been many years since the height of the recession and we often find ourselves thinking of it as a long distant memory, it has recently been suggested that the woes of recession may not be as far in the rear view mirror for us as we may like to believe. The CEO of the National Treasury Management Agency Conor O’Kelly has suggested that the chances of Ireland being hit by another recession are 100%. He has suggested that a combination of Brexit concerns, changes to taxation and other thus far unforeseen issues are likely to plunge our small Ireland into another recession in the future.

In terms of having country wide safeguards in place for Brexit, Mr. O’Kelly concluded that Ireland may not be sufficiently protected from the negative impact of worldwide trade around us in the shadow of so much uncertainty. He also suggested that a contingency plan needs to be put in place going forward to better assist us in navigating these issues.

“I suppose whether Brexit, Italy, corporate tax or some other challenge that we have Ireland is a small, open economy, highly indebted, relies on international investors for 90pc of its borrowings. […] People talk about whether the bond market is predicting recession or who’s predicting a recession. I’ll give you a prediction of recession. The chance of a recession in Ireland is 100pc. So, we can’t afford not to have a contingency in place. We have to remain vigilant to that and we do that by having significant cash buffers at all times, smoothing out the profile of the debt to make sure we minimise the refinancing risks in the future.”

It has been suggested while there are some safeguards and rainy-day funds in place, more will need to be done to ensure that we do not leave ourselves entirely vulnerable to threat and that although this prediction seems bleak, that it is not a certainty regarding Brexit etc. Rather it is a suggestion for some point in the future that a recession in Ireland is once again a future inevitability. The possibility of a Hard Brexit however does place us in a precarious position and ensure that as a country we are unfortunately more vulnerable than we would otherwise have been to financial instability.

As always, our advice is to safeguard your own business and finances in any way possible going forward and to remain vigilant of any possible threats.

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

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Funding Reluctance from SMEs

As you will no doubt know by now, we are massive supporters of Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These small and often unsung heroes of the Irish business world form the backbone of Irish business and make up more than half of all Irish businesses. As such, we have long been supporters of these businesses and championed their successes. In recent months we have spoken about funding opportunities available to these forms of business as well as the ways in which they can be protected and encouraged to grow.

The term Brexit is one which has been utilised so much in recent months that it has almost lost all meaning entirely. Terms like “hard Brexit” strike fear into the hearts of many Irish businesses who have dealings with the UK, and the constant shifting of deadlines and back and forth makes it difficult for businesses to implement sufficient safeguards for their businesses.

Reports this week suggest that Irish SMEs are becoming somewhat reluctant to borrow at present which may show a level of wariness in the looming shadow of uncertainty that is Brexit at present. The Strategic Banking Corporation (SCBI) was started in 2014 in others to allow access to credit for SMEs and functioned by channelling credit through other avenues. This has often been a popular choice for SMEs seeking to fund their business activities, but in the last year we have seen a major slump in uptake on this funding which even an additional Brexit loan to the scheme couldn’t fix. Figures show that 2018 saw only approximately a third of the funding taken up as was accessed in 2017. This shows that in the current climate, Irish SMEs are becoming increasingly reluctant to take their chances on accessing funding.

The SCBI themselves have said of the issues:

“The modest deployment in the nine months to end-December 2018 is a clear reflection of SMEs remaining reluctant to invest in an environment of increased uncertainty and risk as Brexit approaches.”

As things stand we remain almost none the wiser on how the Brexit issue will play out and as always, we advise having a plan in place and safeguarding your business as much as possible in advance. The current advice remains that old Irish refrain that fell from the lips of all parents at one point or another: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” In this way, your business will be protected against all eventualities and in the best position possible to flourish in the face of challenge and adversity in the current uncertain climate.

Should you have any concerns or queries on any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to help in any way possible.

 

 

In light of Brexit, is there an opportunity for more trade with China?

Trade and Trade Alike

As Brexit conversations continue to get increasingly unclear and Ireland’s standing remains uncertain it is important that focus shift onto Ireland’s business and trade strengths rather than solely where we may have difficulties following Brexit, particularly in the event of a ‘Hard Brexit’. In the past, year we have spoken about Irish optimism ahead of Brexit and the ways in which Irish businesses could ensure their continued strength and prosperity going forward onto uncertain terrain.

As China’s leader Xi Jinping continues his European Tour, one might expect that Ireland would not crop up in conversation or be worth much note at this time. It may seem like an odd comparison to discuss Irish trade and business in relation to Italy and China, with our small island seeming to pale in comparison to such trade giants and global superpowers, but you may be surprised to learn that Ireland in fact currently supplies more food to China than Italy, proving again the vitality and strength of our independent trade.

Whilst Italy has recently slipped into somewhat of a recession, and Ireland continues to grow following our own economic crisis, we are on more even footing than we may even realise. Discussions within this European Tour will hope to encourage more openly reciprocated trade routes between the European Union and China, into which Ireland is certain to factor. The attempt to create something of a modern day ‘silk road’ has been met with equal parts scepticism and fear as Italy sign on.

It seems that European leaders are now intent on creating a new bond with global giants such as China, and on securing the global status of the EU especially as talks continue for Brexit. The EU’s labelling of China as a “systemic rival” was met with displeasure as the EU begin to clamp down on any issues or threats, following the messy divorce that Brexit continues to be. It has been stated that the EU will no longer naively go along with any deals that do not benefit the greater good of the EU and will no longer allow access to the EU market when access is not reciprocated. This could open trade routes going forward and ensure the continued power of the EU globally.

Whilst Brexit continues to drag on and loom large, and we do not have a crystal ball into the future, it is good to know that Ireland is safe in the hands of its big sibling, the European Union.

As always here at EcovisDCA we are happy to reciprocate and welcome any questions or concerns you may have that we can assist with, we are grateful for your continued support and friendship.

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The Rescue & Restructuring Scheme

Financial Aid To Restructure & Survive

As you are all aware, we here at EcovisDCA are massive supporters of Irish SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). We understand the importance of these types of companies, underpinning and creating a foundation for all Irish business. In general, we like to keep our clients and friends up to date on any issues that may negatively or positively affect these vital businesses. You may or may not have heard of the Rescue and Restructuring Scheme in Ireland. The scheme provides financial aid and State support to companies experiencing acute liquidity. The intention was that the scheme would offer assistance to those struggling companies who have the possibility of restructuring and continued survival in the business world.

The scheme was first introduced in November 2017, offering a fund of €10million to struggling Irish SMEs. In 2018, an extension to the scheme was approved and announced, with an additional €10million being made available to these businesses. The scheme was scheduled to run until 2020 and would offer support in form of loans repayable over a period of 18 months. The only exemptions to the scheme were those companies in the financial, coal and steel sectors.

The introduction of this scheme in 2017 and 2018’s subsequent extension and funds increase was already a massive boon to the Irish SME sector, offering some form of safety net in times of trouble. As we are all aware, financially speaking anything can happen in the economy and smaller businesses are usually the first to feel the negative effects, so this offer of €20million to survive Brexit woes for struggling SMEs was welcome news.

Further good news arrived on the horizon this month, with the announcement that the scheme would once again be extended with further funds being made available. Perhaps the whispers of terms like “hard Brexit” and “borders” may have had something to do with it, but on this occasion we see a massive increase as it was recently announced that The European Commission has agreed to increase the budget of the scheme by a whopping €180million to €200million.

We are delighted that the Government are taking the appropriate steps to assist in the safeguarding of these vital companies and their future in the eye of the Brexit hurricane, as it has long been known that Irish SMEs could be the most vulnerable in the event of Brexit causing trade and financial issues in Ireland. These additional funds show a willingness to create and support vulnerable businesses and create an ongoing contingency plan for these uncertain weeks and months ahead.

Should you have any queries on any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

Safeguarding your Business against the Brexit Blizzard

It seems that we have been talking about the looming shadow of Brexit for many years at this point. Now that there is finally a set date, it may seem that there is still very little information available for Irish companies with ties to the UK, so today we will focus on some possible implications of Britain’s upcoming exit from the European Union for Irish companies to enable you to best prepare and secure your company.

The United Kingdom (UK) is now set to leave the European Union (EU) on March 29th 2019 and there are many ways in which this could have implications for many Irish companies with ties to the UK. The main implication from the outset will be that the UK will no longer be part of the European Economic Area which may cause a number of shifts for Irish companies.

EEA Resident Director:

Under the Companies Act 2014, all Irish companies are required to have at least one director who is resident in the European Economic Area. Any companies who have directors ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom will be required to appoint a director who is resident within the EEA, or to take out a Section 137 Insurance Bond against non-compliance until they are fully compliant with this rule. It is suggested that this be done immediately to avoid issues.

There may be a loophole available should the director have a “real and continuous link to the State of Ireland”. These specifications must already be met and will not be satisfied on the basis of future intent.

Exemptions for Irish Subsidiaries:

In certain cases, Irish subsidiary companies may not need to file ‘Individual Entry Financial Statements’ with their annual return. This applies only to Irish subsidiaries held by holding companies under the laws of an EEA country, and in no other circumstance. If the subsidiary is held by a UK holding company, this will not apply.

Changes to Year End:

Under current Irish law, a company can change their financial year end date once every 5 years. Currently, if the aforementioned company is part of an EEA multi company structure, the financial year end dates of all companies can be aligned. This will no longer be applicable to company structures which include a UK company.

Irish Branches:

Many UK companies have registered an ‘Irish Branch’, which would naturally be a branch of an EEA company. Following Brexit, this will no longer be applicable and the Irish branch will find itself subject to stricter filing rules.

Imports and Exports:

This is arguably the most crucial item for Irish companies with links to the UK. It will be required post-Brexit for all companies importing or exporting goods into or out of the European Union to have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number (EORI). This will be essential for customs purposes and it is advised that all companies with trade links to the UK ensure that they have this ready.

As we have stated in the past, the future post-Brexit is uncertain but does not need to be clouded in doubt and negativity. The above issues are important to be aware of so that you can safeguard your business in these uncertain times, but many businesses can continue to thrive in this new environment without the assistance of our closest neighbours.

As always, we here at EcovisDCA are ready and waiting to assist you with any issues you may have on any business or financial matters and we look forward to continuing our relationships with all our clients and friends.

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SMEs Come In To 2019 Fighting

As we cruise in to the middle of January, and we finally stop writing the incorrect year on all of our notes, we begin to look towards what 2019 may have in store and what we can bring forward into this New Year that was learned in 2018. It is natural to be caught somewhere between cautious and optimistic for the year ahead even on a personal level, and reports this week suggest that the feeling amongst the Small Business Community is no different.

The latest report from the Small Firms Association (SFA) this month suggest that the mood within the Small Business Community at present is very cautious yet somewhat optimistic with just under 60% of members (all small businesses with 50 employees or less) stating that they feel that the business environment is improving and continuing to do so. This is a drop of just 2% from last year which emphasises the level of uncertainty within the year ahead as the idea of a Hard Brexit and border issues for Irish businesses continues to loom large.

Brexit was naturally highlighted as one of the larger areas of concern, which is unlikely to change for a number of weeks as talks in Britain ramp up and the situation becomes more tense, fraught and confusing for those of us that could be impacted. We have often discussed the increasing cost of living in Ireland, but we have not highlighted another cause of concern with small businesses and SMEs which is the increasing cost of running a business which rises in conjunction with the cost of living. With unemployment decreasing steadily, attracting talented staff has also become a tripping point for some small businesses.

Director of the SFA Sven Spollen-Behrens has stated that;

“2018 has been a challenging year for small business […] The confident mood of a year ago has eased a little on account of Brexit and the tightening labour market. Nevertheless, the Irish economy remains in a strong position and this is confirmed on our member’s feedback.”

Despite these concerns, over two thirds of the businesses surveyed outlined their plans to recruit and expand their business over the course of 2019, whilst half of those surveyed had reported continuing growth. This shows that even when the environment is clouded by uncertainty and difficulties, Irish SMEs will always come out fighting.

Whether 2018 was your businesses most successful year to date, or fell somewhat short of business expectations, there is a full year of opportunity to embrace ahead. While we may be wary of the changes Brexit may bring to our shores, we must also be prepared and safeguard our businesses against any coming storm. We hope 2019 will be an incredibly successful year for all and as always we here at Ecovis DCA are ready and available to assist with any queries or concerns you may have with regards to any business or financial matters. Please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

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Where to now for Brexit?

The Swings and Roundabouts

After a period of relative silence on the topic, Brexit has quickly become a hot conversation topic once more in recent weeks as Brexit talks begin to ramp up. Despite the constant chatter, however, there have been no official announcements or updates on what we can expect from a final Brexit decision. Naturally, this has caused an atmosphere of concern and uncertainty, particularly for our own minute island as questions about border issues, and difficulties in trade swarm around us and we remain uncertain about our place in all of this. As we have discussed recently however, many Irish companies appear to be thriving in this uncertainty and beginning the process of protecting their business against any potential fallout. Something we have learned from this continued confusion is that Irish companies show great resilience in the face of adversity and have attempted to learn the lessons enforced by the economic downturn.

Recently, there have been growing concerns about the impact Brexit could have on our already troubled housing sector. We have spoken at length in the past about the housing sector as rents continue to rise and many are being elbowed out of any attempts at gaining a foothold on the property ladder. It was announced this week that the Economic, Social and Research Institute (ESRI) believe that the country should make itself ready for Brexit to have an effect on housing, as they expect private sector construction to drop, encouraging the Government to invest more in social housing. It is also believed that rent increases will continue to spiral, leaving many more families in need of support. As well as the ESRI, the Nevin Economic Research Institute feels that housing issues will fluctuate massively following Brexit and that demand will reach an all-time high. It was reported this week that both bodies will present TDs with their findings on November 20th.

Head of Economics with the ESRI, Kieran McQuinn has stated that the Housing Assistance Payment may become the main income support for private renters in the wake of Brexit:

“If income and employment growth are slower than anticipated due to Brexit, the numbers of families that qualify for HAP over the coming years will likely be higher than currently expected,”

Mr McQuinn also believes that demand may decrease but that this may not have the expected positive implications. Meanwhile, the ERSI have highlighted that mortgage arrears remain an issue in Ireland, and that following Brexit, these arrears may continue to increase.

There is some mild good news on the horizon for prospective buyers, however as Mr McQuinn of ERSI has stated that Brexit may have the effect of slowing the increase of mortgage interests rates, which would in turn finally see some levels of affordability return to the Irish housing market.

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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Brexit – Still No Clearer

Hope for the Brexit Best

It goes without saying that even those hiding under a rock with no Wi-Fi signal will by now have heard the word ‘Brexit’ by this point, meaning Britain’s highly controversial exit from the European Union. Brexit has proven to be a much more complex issue than it seemed was earlier anticipated and is now an issue fraught with tension and uncertainty for both Britain and our own little island which is often hidden under the safe shadow of its nearest neighbour.

In reports this week it seems that at this point the very notion of Brexit has become a rather messy one, with no parties having a clear understanding of what the final result will actually be. In this environment of uncertainty and as we rely on the UK so heavily for trade routes and business, it has been a cause for much concern in terms of Irish businesses. Terms like ‘Hard Brexit’ and ‘Soft Brexit’ have been thrown around a lot in recent weeks, but what is becoming apparent is that those who voted for Brexit may not be as in control of their destiny as they anticipated and may not have as much power to decide the terms of the departure. The British government continues to attempt to come to an agreement and create a plan which will be beneficial to the majority. As talks continue to fall apart it becomes increasingly clear that Brexit will not affect Britain in isolation, rather it will have a ripple effect across Europe. Even knowing this, it is easy to become tangled in terminology and speculation.

With this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty it came as somewhat of a surprise to hear our own Taoiseach’s assurances that Ireland needn’t be overly concerned as Brexit looms large over Europe. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has made an attempt to quash any lingering Irish fears, stating that Ireland is making contingency plans “in the unlikely event of a no-deal hard Brexit”. This may seem like a very relaxed attitude given the uncertainty surrounding Ireland’s position in this but also points to a new level of prosperity in Irish business and a certainty that we can hold our own in the European Union. There are even some whispers that this could be a very positive move for Irish trade and open us up to more opportunities than were available previously. It has however been suggested that it would be unwise for our Taoiseach to say too much in advance as there is no way of knowing the end result at this time.

This statement also shows a level of commitment to ensuring that no hard borders will spring up between the UK and Ireland which could damage Irish trade. This will be a crucial point of contention in the months ahead. As UK politicians battle to seek an alignment of ideals there is very little we can do on our side rather than take the traditional Irish standpoint of ‘prepare for the worst, hope for the best’.

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