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The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme

We have discussed Covid-19 business supports at length since the onset of this global emergency, while also discussing the vital nature of the SME area in Ireland. SMEs make up a huge portion of Irish businesses, and whilst last years looming Brexit panic may have seemed like an enormous threat to their business activities, this year has proven the ultimate challenge. With this in mind today we will be discussing another area of assistance for these types of businesses both in the wake of Covid and in the realm of whatever the new normal will look like.

The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme is intended to encourage additional lending to SMEs, something we can all agree is absolutely essential. This scheme offers a partial Government guarantee of 80% to banks against losses, essentially placing the Government as guarantor against the SME’s loan. The scheme is aimed at SMEs facing difficulty in accessing traditional lending and is operated on behalf of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SCBI) and is accessible from lenders such as AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. These loans are available to fund working capital, refinancing current Covid19 funding and also in order to invest in your business so it can adapt to the current emergency.

Loans range from €10,000 to €1million and can have a term of up to 7 years. A guarantee premium will apply to be paid directly to the Government. The scheme is available until December 2020. We recommend checking in with your local banking branch for further information and eligibility requirements.

As always, we here at EcovisDCA are available should you have any concerns or queries on any business or financial matters.

The Help to Buy (HTB) Incentive

The Help to Buy (HTB) incentive is a scheme introduced in 2014 aimed at assisting first time buyers in getting a foothold on the property ladder and helping them to navigate the newer and stricter mortgage rules for prospective homeowners. The scheme is intended to help first time buyers with the deposit needed to build or purchase a new home. The scheme will give you a refund of the Income Tax and DIRT paid over the previous four years which is then used as the partial or full deposit.

 

The scheme has undoubtedly already helped many first-time buyers purchase their homes, but it has also come under fire in recent months as it has been suggested that the scheme has driven up house prices, thereby excluding more prospective buyers from the market. It has also been suggested that the scheme has aided many who were not in fact relying on it, and who already have the means to purchase their home.

 

This scheme was not only extended to the end of 2021 but enhanced in the July Stimulus plan and now allows for first time buyers to claim back the lower of either 10% of a property’s value or €30,000. For homes purchased after January 1st, 2017, the refund will be paid directly to the contractor.

 

Applications for the scheme must be made online via the myAccount or Revenue Online services.

 

We advise checking the Revenue website for information on contractors and developers taking part in the scheme as a first port of call. Should you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Restart Grant Plus Scheme

Here at EcovisDCA, we are as always aiming to help Irish SMEs flourish. The current emergency has been a troubling time for all business owners, with SMEs being some of the most vulnerable by nature. We are committed to providing you with all the information available which could assist your business in flourishing in the face of this new adversity.

The Restart Grant Plus scheme offers a grant to businesses in order to help them to reopen their premises and return to work following the Covid-19 crisis. The grants available range is from €4,000 to a maximum of €25,000. The scheme has been increased from a previous minimum of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000.

The Restart Grant scheme will be based on the rates assessment for the business for the 2019 year and is primarily available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as independent hotels. The scheme is now also available to sectors such as sports businesses, charity shops, restaurants, pubs, activity centres, and tourist attractions.

If your company has utilised this scheme previously, you may still be eligible to apply for a second payment, this second payment will only reach a total combined value of the new maximum value. In the event that your company was unable to access funding from the scheme but now qualifies, you will be entitled to make a new application.

The requirements for accessing this grant are that the company must have:

  • Between 0 – 250 employees.
  • Eligible firms now include medium-sized firms and independent hotels with up to 250 employees, as well as small firms (increased from 50 employees).
  • A turnover of less than €100,000 per employee up to a maximum of €25million.
  • Operating from a premises that is commercially rateable by a local authority.
  • A reduced level of turnover of 25% as a result of the Covid-19.
  • Committed to a reopening plan and remain committed to sustaining employment levels.
  • Intention to retain employees that are on the temporary wage subsidy scheme.
  • B&Bs in non-rated premises will be eligible to apply for the minimum €4,000 grant from Fáilte Ireland.
  • A franchisee which is a financially independent company and is completely separate to the franchisor is eligible to apply.
  • Multinationals are not eligible. Small Irish based subsidiaries with overseas parent companies are not eligible.

The aim is that applications will be processed, and an answer received within two weeks of application. Applications can be made through your local authority website.

As always, we here at EcovisDCA are here for you. Should you require any assistance or guidance on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Alternative Lending

Flender

Flender Ireland  is a Peer to Peer Lender for small and medium sized business. It is authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. Flender offer the  following products:

 

Term Loans

Flender offers businesses access to fast funding up to €300,000. Get a credit decision within 6 hours and receive funds within 24 hours. Terms range from 6 to 36 months, with rates starting as low as 6.45%.

In order to apply for a term loan companies / sole traders need:

  • Completed Application form
  • Last 2 years Filed Accounts – Unabridged version with P & L and Balance Sheet
  • Last 2 years Revenue Filed Form 11s (if sole trader)
  • Up to date Management accounts if available
  • Last 6 months bank statements
  • Up to date tax cert – (Tax Ref Number & Access Number ID)

Applications are made on line at : https://www.flender.ie/users/registration/borrower

 

Merchant Cash Advance

Online merchants and other businesses that conduct a majority of their sales online are prime candidates for our MCA product. Since businesses of this nature receive payment primarily via credit card purchases, the monthly payment amount is less when a business is making less revenue and increases when the business makes more revenue. If you earn revenue via check or cash, an MCA probably isn’t right for you.

 

  • Works with natural trade cycles – ideal for retail, hospitality and service businesses
  • Repayments made daily as a small percentage of card terminal revenues
  • Lump sum funding from €10,000 to €250,000
  • Terms from 3 to 12 months
  • Repayments made directly through merchant card processors

 

For further information please contact:

Ecovis DCA

Stephen Connolly – Stephen.connolly@ecovis.ie

Dennis Duffy  – dennis.duffy@ecovis.ie

 

Flender

Colin Canny  – colin.canny@flender.ie

 

Linked Finance

Covid 19 Emergency Loan Product

Linked Finance has launched a Deferred Start Loan for businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It means businesses can get access to working capital now, with the reassurance of no repayments for the first 3 months.

After the first 3 months payment-free, the loan is then repaid over a 12 month period.

Loans are available up to €100,000 to businesses that are trading for at least 2 years and have a (pre-crisis) annual turnover in excess of €100,000. As with their standard loans, the application process is very simple, just three standard documents, no projections and a credit decision will be given in 24 hours

Any established and creditworthy business, whether it is a limited company, sole trader or business partnership, can apply for a loan on Linked Finance.

In order to apply for this facility companies / sole traders will need:

  • Last 6 full calendar months bank statements i.e. Sept 1st to Feb 29th.
  • Proof of overdraft (IF ANY) Even online screen-print is fine
  • Latest full set of accounts to include Admin Expenses breakdown

Some conditions apply. These include:

  • If you are a sole trader, you must be a permanent resident of Ireland.
  • If your business is a partnership, it must have a permanent place of business in Ireland and at least half of its partners must be permanent residents of Ireland.
  • If your business is a limited company, it must be registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).
  • It must have filed accounts with the CRO (if required to do so) at least once and at least half of its directors must be Irish residents.
  • Your business must have been actively trading for at least the past two years.
  • Your business must meet our minimum credit risk and fraud criteria.
  • Your business must not have any outstanding judgements for more than €250.
  • In special circumstances, we can support younger companies who have demonstrated strong growth potential over a shorter trading history but this is at Linked Finance’s sole discretion.

For further information please contact

Ecovis DCA

Stephen Connolly – Stephen.connolly@ecovis.ie

Dennis Duffy  – dennis.duffy@ecovis.ie

Linked Finance

Mark Lindsey – mark@linkedfinance.com

How to Release Cash Flow from your Business

Here at EcovisDCA we are constantly striving to ensure that our clients and friends have the most successful business and financial lives possible. We are not just a faceless company who talk the talk, we walk the walk. We know that your business is a labour of love and we endeavour to ensure the one-to-one advice and care you and your business deserve. With that in mind, we have decided to focus this week on ways in which you can release cash flow from your business. As you know, we are great supporters of Irish SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and these businesses are often the first to suffer any ill-effects of a downturn and as such it is vital that they are protected. Cash doesn’t often flow readily in February after the excesses of the festive season and the January sales, so we are here to discuss the ways you can manage and release business cash flow.

Projections:

When projecting cash flow, the impulse is to assume regular income, however, the peaks and valleys of business life are often first seen through cashflow, so it is important to take this into account when projecting the year ahead regardless of the size or avenue of your business. Being armed with the knowledge of potential financial issues ahead and projecting a realistic cashflow cycle for the year ahead may allow you to avoid a cash shortage during tighter times.

Enforce Payment Terms:

The payment terms for your business should never be a casual affair, it is essential to create and enforce your payment terms. Create incentives for suppliers to meet your payment terms, and penalties for non-payment. It is worryingly becoming normal for payment terms and dates to be exceeded, if this becomes a problem, we advise strengthening these terms and consistently following up. Having suppliers be consistently late on payments can push you into debt. Enforcing terms will free up cash flow.

Marketing:

Marketing isn’t just a sales pitch; it is the creation of your brand and creates an image of your business in the minds of potential customers. It may seem counter intuitive to spew the adage “You have to spend money to make money” but in this case it is entirely true. Good or bad marketing can make or break your business, so it is worth investing time, money and resources in.

Keep it Simple:

Simplicity is often the key and we regularly find our cashflow tied up in long term projects which are offering no short-term return. Evaluate what are the essential projects your company is budgeted to work on and go from there. The same can be said for many business processes, are there ways your business can be more efficient, are you expending employee time in valuable or invaluable tasks?

Pay Debts:

Again, it seems counter-intuitive to insist on debt payment to release cash flow but once all company debt is paid, that cash becomes available and can be saved or re-invested into the business.

External Income:

Occasionally there will be times when it is not possible to finance your business internally. In these cases, applying to schemes, applying for grants or loans etc. can be the reason for the extended lifespan and rejuvenation of your company.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can better manage the cashflow of your business, should you have any concerns or questions about these or any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Importance of a Personal Pension

Back to the Future

We have been constantly told since childhood that it is important to cast an eye to the future and never to “spend it all in the one shop” and to “save for a rainy day”. These are refrains Irish ears are so used to hearing that we could likely finish these sentences from one word. There are ideologies that we have been raised on and yet it seems that very few Irish people take this on board.

A recent survey by Standard Life found that the majority of Irish workers (88%) believe that it is a good idea to hold a private pension as well as the state pension, however it has been revealed that just over half (51%) of Irish adults don’t own a pension at all, with male pension ownership being significantly higher than female ownership across both the public and private sectors. In the private sector, this discrepancy is a lot higher with 50% of men and only 30% of women owning a pension.

It is worth noting that pension ownership has increased in recent years from 46% to 49% from quarter to quarter, with private sector pension ownership increasing from 37% to 40%. As we have spoken about many times in the past, the cost of living in Ireland has been increasing each year and as a result this survey found that the most common reason for not owning a pension was being unable to afford to do so. Sinead McEvoy, Head of Technical Solutions with Standard Life has suggested that she does not think it is that simple as standard weekly number crunching and believes that it is a case of not looking to the future, stating that:

“We don’t believe it is the real reason for some. We think a combination of people wanting to start paying into a pension but not getting around to it, not understanding pensions, not knowing how to start one and being uncomfortable making retirement related decisions are all blockers. […] Once people understand how important it is to have their own pension, how beneficial the tax breaks are and how relatively easy it is to start a pension – they will take action. We think 2020 is a year to take pensions action and we encourage everyone to start talking and learning about how pensions work.”

With this in mind, we here at EcovisDCA would also encourage all Irish workers to look deeper into the pensions process and to ensure that they are paving the way for their futures.

Should you have any concerns or queries about any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

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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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Irish Economy’s Debt Situation

As we have previously discussed, there is still an atmosphere of fear surrounding the possibility of another financial crisis or recession in Ireland. With the news that financial experts predict that it is almost a certainty that another financial crisis will hit Ireland in the future based on current figures, it is difficult to avoid the reality that despite major improvements in recent years, financially speaking Ireland is not out of the woods just yet.

As we are all aware, the debt on Ireland’s shoulders still remains, but recent reports have queried who is truly to blame for the level of debt we find ourselves in? It has been reported that at the peak of the financial crisis, spending was approximately €23billion more per year than what was taken in. The Irish economic debt situation of €205billion has long been blamed on the elusive villain known only as “The Bankers” in that the bailing out of bank debt was the sole cause of the financial crisis, which is not the case in actuality as only just over a quarter of this debt can be attributed to the bailing out of the banks, a figure which stands at €60billion.

In reality we are all aware of the heyday of the Celtic Tiger and its series of mishaps that lead us to the point of no return. Far from the bailing out of the banks being the only cause of the financial collapse, it is estimated that a little over €100billion of the Irish debt relates to governmental mismanagement of public funds, budget deficits and a desperate attempt by the then government to cover for lavish spending and plug a hole in the debt before it inevitably began to spiral. In order to stem the haemorrhage of funds, the government had used windfall tax revenues from the property sector.

Naturally, these funds were by no means bottomless and so when they were no longer available we began to see our budget deficits grow exponentially. It has been reported that at the height of the crisis in 2009, the State was spending approximately €23billion more than it was taking in each year before they began borrowing in earnest which found us in the midst of massive debt.

As we discussed recently, there is always the danger of finding ourselves in this position again, and as such safeguards need to be put in place, in the same way we would suggest safeguarding your business, it is vital that we safeguard our country’s finances. With this in mine, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has begun to criticise the government over their spending and has suggested that current spending and debt has “worrying echoes” of the past. It is hoped that change will be implemented and safeguards put in place to ensure that we do not snowball into harms way once more but as always we recomment being vigilant with your own finances and business and ensuring that you are as protected as possible.

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

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

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.

 

 

Revenue Commissioners New Debt Management System (DMS)

Onward, to the Future

The past number of months have been a time of increasing change for Irish businesses. From large scale changes to payroll systems to the clamping down of Revenue on all forms of tax evasion and tax fraud. These have been major changes to the ways in which Irish companies do business day-to-day and are hoped to be a solution to some long-term issues facing Irish business life, as it is hoped it will all lead to smoother business operations and less issues facing the Irish tax system.

The season of change continues onwards as it was recently announced that The Revenue Commissioners were set to release a new system for debt management, one which will be more technologically advanced than previous iterations and which will assist them in chasing down more unpaid tax, particularly in the sector of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

Revenue’s new system entitled DMS (Debt Management Services) was launched just recently and promises to utilise high-tech means to target and deal with a wider range of tax payer. Whilst this may seem like a frightening prospect for SMEs, it is in fact a positive step towards ensuring that all Irish businesses are compliant, and that smaller business need not suffer the consequences of the failures of their larger brethren. The system will be able to target businesses and individuals who may previously have been too expensive to identify and pursue.

A spokesperson for Revenue has stated of the new DMS system that it will:

“Deliver significant increased capacity to manage and support compliance and tackle non-compliance” and will “enable Revenue to review customers with lower turnarounds on a more regular basis”.

So, whilst this means that SME’s will of course naturally fall under the Revenue microscope more often than previous, it is a step in the right direction for the future of business in Ireland, as it is set to join the Payroll Modernisation system in making it easier and more transparent for businesses to submit documentation and queries as the spokes person went on to say:

“The new system is fully online, allowing documentation to be uploaded electronically. It gives customers greater flexibility to manage their payment schedule and make certain alterations to suit their circumstances.

We as always advise to ensure that all your documentation and tax files are in order well ahead of time to ensure that you do not face further issues going forward. Should you have any queries or concerns, our doors are always open here at EcovisDCA.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY