Crowe took part again this year in the annual Business Plus accountancy survey where managing partners from Ireland’s top accountancy firms discuss the factors driving growth and what services are in demand from clients. Below is an extended extract from this year’s report.
Naoise Cosgrove leads the corporate finance team and specialises in buying and selling private companies, and acting for purchasers, sellers and funders.
How was trading for the firm over the past year? What service lines have seen growing demand?
All areas of the business are performing strongly, and growth has been strongest in consulting, tax and advisory services. Crowe’s consulting team has been engaged to investigate and help resolve some of the most difficult problems affecting public administration in Ireland.
From a sectoral perspective, we are experiencing high levels of demand across professional services, hotel, tourism and leisure, property and construction, waste and renewables, and healthcare.
What issues are top of mind with your growth-focused clients at the moment, and how is the firm assisting them?
With a strong domestic economy, the outlook for M&A activity remains very positive. Many of our clients are looking to expand through acquisition and we are actively supporting them through what can be a transformative business decision. Our corporate finance team consists of over 20 professionals who deliver ongoing strategic and financial advice to business owners and shareholders, handling sales mandates and providing financing and transaction support such as valuations and due diligence. While much due diligence is concentrated on financial, legal and employment areas, we constantly remind clients that it is critical that there is a good cultural fit between the organisations, because this is where many deals fail to achieve the anticipated results
Many clients are looking to grow internationally. We are able to work with our Crowe colleagues globally to support this, advising on market entry strategies, acquisition opportunities, appropriate tax structures and tax and accounting compliance matters.
How concerned are you and your clients about possible taxation changes with the new government?
Ireland has prospered from having a stable tax regime. The new government will undoubtedly have a difficult task in balancing the need for additional spending in public services with how this will be financed from tax increases. Simply increasing taxes for high earners isn’t the answer.
Any tax changes that make Ireland an unattractive location for individuals would be a concern when the labour market is already at full employment and we are looking to attract inward migration to sustain the continued growth in our economy.
Similarly, any changes that make it more expensive to hire employees would severely damage the economy and limit the growth potential of indigenous businesses. This is a major concern for our clients.
As managing partner in the firm, what are the operational issues that are most challenging?
Attracting and retaining staff is critical for us at Crowe. The practice is built on the strength of our people and we are constantly looking at creating the environment that allows our staff to develop their full potential. In the past year we have refreshed our career framework platform to ensure that staff have a clear understanding of their career pathway, which is an important factor in attracting and retaining staff. We have also revisited our policies around agile working so that we can be more adaptable to staff needs.
We continue to invest in our IT platform to maximise efficiency and productivity and improve our employee and client experience. We have a continuous focus on digital business transformation – making services better, faster and less costly for clients. The digital environment has to support mobility, ensuring that all employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere.
How would you describe your firm’s market position currently? Where is the business growth opportunity for the firm?
The firm has achieved considerable growth in recent years. We are continuing to invest in our people, our services and our infrastructure to provide a platform for continued growth in the years ahead.
For almost 80 years we have provided strategic financial advice to business owners, enabling them to meet their personal and business goals. We have developed a unique leadership content hub to support business owners. This is a valuable resource which contains content on the many facets of successful leadership, with input from a range of distinguished business leaders.