Aiden Murphy, a partner in our Corporate Recovery department and an industry specialist with our Hotel, Tourism and Leisure sector team, celebrates 25 years with the firm this month.
To mark this milestone, Aiden reflects on his career to-date, the importance he places on adding value to his clients’ businesses and the different challenges his clients have faced over the last 25 years. He discusses his work within the hotel sector and how that sector has changed since joining Crowe in 1994. Aiden also outlines the central role relationships – with clients and colleagues – have to his work style and about the importance of giving back to the community.
“I understood early on that people were more interested in what was going to happen tomorrow that what happened yesterday.
Today’s business people are more familiar than ever with figures, so accountants need to go beyond just the books to find where they can add value as advisors and advocates who have a deep understanding of how a business ticks.
The impact of technology is the next revolution we face. It is changing the face of business leading to consolidation and a disruption of the distribution model across a wide range of sectors. The best advisors need to be knowledgeable of what is evolving in this space.
Building a successful advisory business is not about scale. It is about offering a level of expertise and a range of specialisms to meet clients’ complex requirements. Crowe has these attributes in abundance and it is a key reason why I have spent my career with one firm.
In Crowe I have been able to build a deep expertise and alignment with a specific sector and service line, which has been very important to me. I am probably best known for my work in the hotel sector in Ireland. For the last 20 years, I have overseen the publication of the annual Crowe Ireland Hotel Survey, which has been providing benchmark and trend information on financial, operational and demand drivers since 1996.
The work I do with the Irish hotel sector sees me consulting with and advising numerous owners, managers, investors and funders on what is a very dynamic industry. Sales and marketing, financial reporting, production and procurement, employment, sustainability and efficient methodologies are constantly having to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace, so it makes for a very engaging sector to work in.
When I first started working with hoteliers in the mid-nineties, the sector was in expansionary mode. New hotel developments were often part of larger property schemes or portfolios with retail, car-parking and residential in various guises (owner occupiers, multi-lets, student accommodation or holiday apartments, etc.), so my role as financial advisor and arranger of funding solutions for these different projects gave me a wide and varied experience. It has enabled me to develop a level of expertise in the property sector and a deep understanding of how property and business ventures align and is an area I enjoy working in the most.
Over the last 25 years working with Crowe I have seen pre-boom, boom, bust and what is now an exciting time of growth for Ireland. It has enabled me to develop my experience in accountancy, commercial advisory, negotiation, fund raising, deal structuring, supporting the acquisition and disposal of companies and restructuring and recovery to include asset management and disposal.
The 2008 banking and financial crash highlighted the over reliance in the noughties on bank debt and uncovered what were over-inflated company valuations across all sectors after a period of rapid expansion. Work quickly switched to re-sizing company debt and bringing in new equity to take projects forward on a more viable basis.
The lessons learnt from the economic crash included the importance of business ventures being properly capitalised and funded, and that scale and sharing equity is often better than having smaller owner-managed operations. There is greater recognition that good corporate governance is key to stability and growth prospects for any business. Business owners also recognise now more than ever that there is never a bad time to take a profit and that hanging on too long can lead to lower returns and a possible regret that an opportunity was not capitalised on earlier.
I believe that becoming director of a company should be akin to attaining a driving licence. Directors should have an awareness of their responsibility to suppliers, funders, employees and that company assets cannot be treated as personal assets. Directors should also have an awareness of their obligations to the community around them. They should know their entity’s solvency at all times and if facing difficulties look for appropriate remedies in a timely fashion.
I greatly admire entrepreneurs and their capacity to recognise and evaluate business opportunities, their ability to gather and utilise the necessary resources and adopt the appropriate actions to ensure success. I am always on the lookout to work alongside such people.
In supporting and encouraging business leadership and growth, Crowe recognises that crucial lessons can be learned from the experience of others. Over the past 18 months, the firm has hosted a series of business briefings where prominent business leaders have shared their personal journeys to success. Key insights from each of these can be found on our website’s Leadership Hub.
Crowe is also delighted to launch our Leadership Insights magazine, a special publication where we have collaborated with eight of Ireland’s best-known business owners. Each reveals their personal experience and unique perspective on the factors required to maximise the potential of a business. Leadership Insights also contains a wide range of practical advice and guidance from some of Crowe’s practice leaders. Download your copy here.
After 25 years in my career, the key thing I have learned is to seek out happiness. While it might seem strange for an accountant to say that it is not about making more and more money, to me happiness is about how good your family relationships are, the friends you have around you, how much you care about the community, your social responsibility and what value you are bringing to whatever exercise you are carrying out.
I am therefore very proud of the Crowe staff CSR programme. Each year Crowe staff pick a cause and work with a charity to raise funding, awareness and volunteer to give back to those who can benefit from a little effort on our part.
I am also proud of the relationships I have developed with clients and colleagues over the years. For the past five years I have organised the annual Crowe alumni gathering. This event allows us to stay connected with former colleagues and come together, at least once a year, to celebrate old friendships with a glass of wine, a laugh and some shared memories.
These events are always fun and fit with my philosophy that while work needs to be undertaken with diligence, professionalism and care, we also need to make room for fun and a pleasant and friendly work environment. I enjoy the success that former colleagues attain in their careers and I believe mentoring, in all its various guises, is important and should be encouraged more. It can not only be positive in setting goals and boosting confidence but it can also provide clarity and greater understanding to deal with challenges and opportunities that life presents to us all.”