News Archives - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

Ulster Bank appoints former Communicorp CEO Gervaise Slowey to its board

Ulster Bank has appointed former Communicorp CEO Gervaise Slowey to its board of directors.

Ms Slowey is an independent strategic consultant.

Previously she headed up Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp radio group for four years to the end of 2016, and before that was an executive with advertising giant Ogilvy Worldwide.

She is also currently an independent non-executive director of Eason PLC, and also regularly chairs senior level appointment and state board director appointment panels for the Public Appointments Service.

The appointment was announced by Ulster Bank chairman, Des O’Shea.

“I welcome the appointment of Gervaise to our Board of Directors. She brings a wealth of international experience across a number of industries to the table as well as an in-depth expertise in identifying and understanding customer needs which we will leverage as we pursue our ambition of becoming the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy,” he said.

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Irish Life Group set to acquire strategic shareholding in Invesco

Irish Life Group are set to acquire a strategic shareholding in Ireland’s largest Irish-owned independent financial consultancy, Invesco.

The terms of the transaction have not been disclosed but no job losses are expected on its completion, expected in the third quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals.

Invesco employs 125 people at its sites at Sandyford, Dublin and Lapp’s Quay, Cork, and has €4.8bn in assets under administration.

The independent consultancy firm will continue to operate under its existing brand and with the same senior leadership team following Irish Life’s investment.

“This new strategic investment means that Invesco will be backed by the strength of Great-West Lifeco as it continues to successfully execute its growth plans,” David Harney, Chief Executive of Irish Life Group said.

Des McGarry, Managing Director, Invesco said the firm had been “exploring options” as part of their growth ambitions.

“In Irish Life we will have a shareholder that understands the value of our independence, and that will support our growth through access to resources, technology and expertise on a global scale,” he said.
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KBC to verify IDs with fintech ‘selfie’

Lender KBC says it is embracing innovative technology and partnering with skilled fintechs in order to compete in the financial services landscape.

Head of Current Accounts Petrina Grady demonstrated their “game-changing” digital account opening experience on the TechX stage of the Dublin Tech Summit.

In the ‘Building digital services that transform customer experience’ presentation, with Innovation Delivery Manager Ryan Leitch, Ms Grady spoke about how there is a gap between a digital service that is easy to use and one that accomplishes little.

Part of the difficulty faced in ease of online account opening is adhering to money-laundering regulations but KBC aims to make it much simpler for the customer, she says.

“The customers take a picture of their drivers’ licence and they take a selfie. We’re using APIs (software) to do a check to make sure the licence is authentic – and then we use biometrics to check that the person in the selfie is you. So you don’t have to send us in your bill or anything, that’s all the boxes ticked,” she said.

“The bit that’s really different for us is that you then instantly get your digital debit card into your wallet, and can put it into your Google Pay or your Apple Pay straight away. We put a fiver into the account for you so it means you can actually make a purchase from your account immediately too.

“We’re in a very collaborative space. You have to partner with other fintechs out there. If you try to do it on your own it would take too long, you’d be left behind, you’d have missed the boat.”
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Irish-owned businesses account for one-third of €4.6bn R&D spending

Domestic firms spent 36pc of the €4.6bn invested into innovation here in 2016, with multinationals responsible for the balance.

Out of the €1.7bn spent by Irish businesses, just under half the spending, or €793m, went to in-house research and development (R&D), to according to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The tax system is structured to promote investment in R&D, seen as the driver of economic well-being by policymakers.

The data shows foreign -owned enterprises, which make up fewer than one in five of all relevant businesses, accounted for 64pc of innovation-related expenditure in 2016 in Ireland, including €1.4bn of expenditure on in-house R&D.

According to the CSO, this distribution of innovation expenditure between Irish and foreign-owned enterprises, all of which employ a minimum of 10 employees, has stayed broadly consistent over the six-year period between 2010 and 2016.

The total spend on innovation in Ireland in 2016 represented a 22pc increase on the 2014 figure of €3.8bn, with the CSO stating that just under two in five enterprises reported innovation expenditure in 2016.

The increase in innovation spend was driven by a 15.5pc increase in expenditure for in-house R&D, which in 2016 accounted for nearly half of all innovation expenditure for companies.

External R&D at €619m represented 13pc of total spend for the relevant businesses.

External R&D spend includes contracting-out R&D to research organisations or to other enterprises.

Meanwhile, acquisition of machinery, equipment and software at €1.4bn represented just under a third of total innovation spend in 2016 for businesses.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, two in three larger enterprises reported innovation expenditure between 2014 and 2016, while only 36pc of small and medium enterprises said that they had spent on innovation during the period.

Separating the data by sector, the industrial sector accounted for €2.7bn of the innovation spend compared to €1.9bn for the services sector.

The bulk of the spend by the industrial-sector businesses went on machinery, equipment and software, while in contrast, businesses in selected services spent €1.1bn on in-house R&D.

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Company owners’ PPSN needed in database

A new register of businesses is set to include details of owners’ Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN).

The Irish Independent has learned that officials want the new Register of Beneficial Ownership – which will detail precise ownership of corporate entities in Ireland – to require firms to supply shareholders’ Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN) in order to ensure its accuracy.

Initially, the Irish register will be accessible by so-called financial intelligence units. However, the EU has already introduced updated plans to allow such registers to be eventually accessible by journalists and members of the public.

The database must be set up under the EU’s fourth money-laundering directive, commonly known as MLD4. Registers are being established across the bloc. The directive came into force last June, but has not yet been implemented in Ireland.

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) has insisted that the provision of PPSN numbers is an “essential measure” to make the register accurate, but details have yet to be finalised.

The CRO will act as registrar, responsible for the database, once the required statutory instrument has been introduced to give effect to MLD4. That had been expected before now.

The Department of Finance said that work on the statutory instrument (SI) to establish the central register is “ongoing”.

“We expect that an SI will issue shortly,” said a spokeswoman. “The date that the register will go live for submission of information is currently under discussion with the CRO, but we expect it to be a number of weeks after the SI is introduced.”

She also said that no final decision has been made regarding whether or not PPSN numbers will be required.

So far, the mandatory information that will need to be supplied by owners includes their full name, date of birth, country of residence, nationality and nature of business. Other details that will be required include the date on which each person became, or ceased to be, a beneficial owner.

At a recent meeting of the CRO’s stakeholder group, the need for the provision of PPSN numbers to shore up the accuracy of the planned register was relayed by one of the office’s senior employees, assistant registrar Gerry Doyle.

Mr Doyle told the meeting that the use of PPSNs as a unique identifier for business owners was still under consideration. Minutes for the meeting show that Mr Doyle said the use of PPSN numbers for this purpose was an “essential measure”.

“The [EU] directive requires that the register is accurate and the PPSN number is seen as the best way to ensure this functionality,” noted the meeting’s minutes.

The meeting also noted that while access to the Beneficial Ownership Register will initially be limited to financial intelligence units, “this could later be extended to State competent authorities”.

However, the EU has already updated its plans to increase access to beneficial ownership registers under the so-called Money Laundering Directive 5. The legal text of that directive is due to be published in the middle of this year.

By 2020, details of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts will be publicly available.

Additionally, members of the public will be able to request information on the beneficial ownership of a trust that owns a company that is not incorporated within the European Union.

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Right on the money: Revolutionising business lending

For the last decade, a lot of Irish SMEs have struggled to access the funds they need to succeed. As the financial crisis took hold, sources of credit dried up. Many Irish businesses found it next to impossible to access affordable finance.

This had a devastating effect on companies across the country.

Even now, as the economy has turned around, access to credit is still a key concern for Irish SMEs. While traditional sources of finance took a hiatus and largely stopped lending, the world underwent dramatic change.

Technology completely transformed the way we live. The way we shop, the way we work, the way we chat, keep in touch, watch TV, listen to music have all evolved in ways we couldn’t have imagined just 10 years ago.

The digital revolution has made so many things faster, easier and more efficient, bringing click-and-scroll ease to most areas of our life. Unfortunately, the area of business lending still lags behind.

For the most part, business lending still hasn’t caught up. Accessing business loans from traditional sources often still involves reams of paper, long waits, overly-detailed business plans and complicated cash flow projections. Business owners need to move quickly, seize opportunities and keep pace with the changing world around them. They can’t wait weeks for an answer.

In an age of digital technology and hyper-connectivity, this type of clunky, time-consuming process should be consigned to the past.

One silver lining that appeared during the dark days of the recession was the emergence of new players. As the banks and other financial institutions become reluctant to lend, innovative new operators entered the fray.

Companies that would be more at home in Silicon Valley than on Wall Street started reshaping areas like payments, foreign exchange, underwriting, compliance and, indeed, lending. FinTech, or Financial Technology, is an area that is booming around the globe. It is disrupting old financial models, bringing digital age efficiency to an industry that hasn’t changed in decades.

One of the most successful stories of the global FinTech phenomenon has been the rapid rise of P2P (peer-to-peer) lending.

P2P lending is a method of lending that matches borrowers with lenders, allowing them to enter lending arrangements without an intermediary. Peer-to-peer loans usually take place through online lending platforms; using technology to make the process faster, easier and more efficient than traditional methods of accessing credit.

In Ireland, Linked Finance is the largest, longest-running platform and they are leading the charge to make P2P lending a mainstay of the SME lending landscape while catapulting business loans into the digital age.

“The peer-to-peer lending sector in Ireland is going from strength to strength, and companies are realising that there is a viable alternative to the traditional banking sector that can offer quick decisions and attractive funding solutions,” says Niall Dorrian, CEO of Linked Finance.

How Linked Finance works
Established in 2013, Linked Finance has already provided more than €50 million in funding to SMEs across Ireland. Every year, more and more business owners are recognising the benefits of P2P lending.

In the same way Just Eat changed the way we order out, Netflix transformed the way we watch TV and AirBnb reshaped accommodation, Linked Finance is revolutionising the way Irish business owners access loans.

As with many game-changers, the underlying idea is simple.

Linked Finance uses technology to connect creditworthy Irish businesses who need loans with online lenders who are looking to invest. Business owners get the funds they need quickly, with minimum hassle and at a competitive rate. Lenders make a fair return on their money.

For businesses, the application process is easy, credit decisions are provided quickly, and funds can be accessed in a matter of days; not the weeks or months that have become the norm with traditional providers.

For Lisa Quinlan of Dublin’s iconic donut business, The Rolling Donut, it was this streamlined approach that made the process so positive.

“The ease of application, quick credit approval, and personable approach made the entire process an enjoyable one. A week after I applied I had the funds in my account,” she says.

At last, there is a proven, straightforward way for hard-working Irish business owners to access loans quickly and with minimum hassle. An ultra-efficient option that allows them to focus on what they do best – building the type of businesses that are the backbone of our economy.

How Linked Finance could work for you
In a few short years, Linked Finance has established itself as a ‘go-to’ finance solution for business owners across Ireland. Their game-changing approach is making the platform a popular choice for SMEs in every sector of the economy.

So, whether you’re looking to hire new staff, upgrade equipment, ramp up for new contracts, source additional stock or simply increase working capital, Linked Finance can help.

If you’ve been trading for more than two years and have a turnover in excess of €100k, this is your ticket to straightforward, easy, reliable business loans. Linked Finance takes the fuss out of finance, so you can focus on what’s most important: growing your business.
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Take charge: Slash banking fees by moving your current account to another bank

In the first half of 2016, just 3,600 of us, or 0.06pc, switched our current account to another bank.

This is a far cry from the first half of 2014, when over 26,000 customers switched, although this was mainly due to the exit of Danske Bank and ACC Bank from the current account market.

“The main reason for inertia in switching current accounts is fear that something will go wrong,” said Simon Moynihan of price comparison site “Many consumers are concerned that their direct debits will be cancelled and that they will miss important payments on their mortgage or energy bills by switching current accounts.”

The existence of the Central Bank’s Switching Code (designed to make switching current accounts easier and quicker for consumers) and the banks’ own efforts to ease these fears, such as with new types of current account, appear to have had little influence, he says.

“Until the fear of something going wrong is properly tackled, those low switching figures are likely to remain stagnant.”

A few years ago, consumers could avail of genuinely free-fee banking thanks to strong competition among a greater number of banks for new customers, but things are a little different now, especially with only six players in the market.

AIB, KBC and Ulster Bank are offering fee-free banking to customers, but only when a number of strict criteria are met. With AIB, customers must keep €2,500 on deposit at all times and with Ulster Bank, that figure stands at €3,000. With KBC, customers can avail of fee-free banking by lodging €2,500 every month.

Bank of Ireland charges a €5 quarterly maintenance fee to all customers, but will waive transaction fees for customers who keep €3,000 on deposit at all times.

Permanent TSB is a little bit different, says Moynihan. “With the bank’s Explore Account, customers are charged €4 every month, but this can be offset by the fact that the bank will pay back 10c on every debit card transaction. However, this is capped at €5 a month.

“So, it is possible to actually make €12 over the course of a year by banking with Permanent TSB, but customers will have to transact a lot.”

Contactless payments remain free of charge with KBC, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB, while Bank of Ireland charges 2pc of the transaction value up to a maximum of 11.43 per transaction), while AIB is set to start charging 20c each from next month.

When it comes to credit cards, there are signs of increased competition among banks, with many now offering 0pc APR on transfers for a certain period of time, according to Moynihan.

The Bank of Ireland is offer 0pc interest on balance ­transfers for seven months on its Classic credit card, although it does have a rate of 22.1pc. KBC is offering 0pc APR on transfers for six months, with a rate of 18.25pc kicking in after that.

Permanent TSB are also offering six months of a 0pc APR on balance transfers, but with a rate of 20.7pc.

One of the best rates on the market is AIB’s CLICK Credit Card, which comes with 13.8pc APR, but this does not have any balance transfer option.

How to switch …Current account
Step 1

Pick a new provider and ask for a ‘Switching Pack’. Agree a ‘Switching Date’ – when there is least activity on your account, e.g. mid-month.

Step 2

Inform your employer of the new details.

Step 3

If you have an existing overdraft, you’ll need to negotiate its terms with your new bank. You are not automatically entitled to move it also. The new bank may carry out a credit check.

Step 4

Provide your new bank with proof of identity and confirm whether you need a cheque book, debit card, etc.

Step 5

Complete an ‘Account Transfer Form’. This tells your new bank about direct debits, standing orders, etc which they will liaise with your old bank to switch across. The balance of funds in your old account will also be moved.

Potential saving: €20+ a year

Total time: 120 mins

How to switch …Credit card
Step 1

The process ­involves completing an ­application form either online, or on paper – you will be asked for:

your current bank details;
existing credit cards and loans;
existing mortgage (if this is in arrears you may be refused);
existing savings ­accounts.
Step 2

You must be over 18, in receipt of an ­income (which may be ­restricted to over a ­certain level, e.g. €16,000 pa) and have a current account.

Step 3

Credit checks will be carried out with a credit bureau to see if you have outstanding loans or have ever missed payments on them.

Clearing €5,000 debt at 22.8pc at €300 per month takes one year, nine months.

Switching the balance to a 0pc card for six months takes one year, six months.

Potential saving: €900

Total time: 30 mins
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Driver (48) ‘gobsmacked and devastated’ at €19k insurance quote

A motorist was shocked when his annual motor insurance renewal quote rocketed to an incredible €19,000.

Meath publican Brian Kelly (48) rang Liberty Insurance to point out what he thought was an administrative error.

However, the company told him the policy price of €19,368.26 for his 2007 1.6-litre Toyota Avensis was correct.

The increase was more than €15,000 extra on his insurance costs for last year, and over €18,500 more than his 2016 insurance policy of €800.

Mr Kelly, who is a director of the suicide awareness voluntary group Save Our Sons and Daughters (SOSAD) was left scratching his head when Liberty told him that the huge premium was because of two outstanding claims against him.

“I’m in shock. Sure, who could afford to pay €19,000 for car insurance? You’d buy a new car for that,” he said.

“I’m with Liberty Insurance 17 years and had nine years of a no-claims bonus intact.


“I’ve had two tips since Christmas 2016 on two separate occasions in Navan and Slane.

“I wasn’t going at speed when I hit both from behind. I got out of the car and swapped insurance details. There seemed to be very little damage, if any, to the vehicles and the drivers got out and seemed fine. In one of the incidents, there was even a garda driving behind us who stopped for a few minutes but left us to sort everything out.

“When I heard there were two personal injuries claims against me pending, I was both gobsmacked and devastated.”

Mr Kelly now has a month to seek new insurance cover but does not think that anyone else will insure him because of the incidents.

“I can’t afford to pay €19,000, but I need my car,” he added.

“I’ve been a director of SOSAD since 2009 and do a lot of fundraising. What am I going to do now? To be quoted €19,000 is ludicrous in itself. I know after the first incident in 2016, the premium went from €800 to €4,000 and I paid it.

“But this jump is completely out of the ballpark.”

Mr Kelly has contacted the Financial Services Ombudsman to make a complaint.

“I hold up my hands to the accidents, but I just can’t understand how a quote of over €19,000 can be justified.

“I believe that the claim culture in this country will literally drive us all off the roads and has to be looked at,” he added.

Liberty Insurance did not respond to a request for comment.
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National Treasury Management Agency raises €4bn from bond investors

The National Treasury Management Agency has raised €4bn from bond investors this afternoon after encountering heavy demand for its latest syndicated bond issuance.

It is understood the notes will deliver a yield of over 1.3pc, although the deal has yet to be priced.

A spokesperson for the NTMA declined to comment on the yield but confirmed the agency received some €12.5bn worth of orders, which included €2.35bn worth of interest from the joint lead managers.

This latest deal takes the NTMA’s bond issuance to €10.25bn so far this year. It intends to raise between €14bn and €18bn in 2018.

Barclays, Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, NatWest Markets and SG BIC are mandated as joint lead managers to the syndicated bond auction.

Books on the deal will close later this afternoon.
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PTSB adds fuel to mortgage war by slashing fixed rates for new business

Permanent TSB has reduced its rates on a number of its fixed rate mortgage products for new business.

The changes, will apply to three-year and five-year fixed home loans, will come into effect on Monday, April 9.

Eight products in total will see the rate reductions, which range from 0.10pc up to 0.15pc.

Experts are predicting an explosion in the fixed-rate mortgage market in Ireland as the battle between lenders heats up.

Most recently, KBC slashed its rates, following Ulster Bank’s move, meaning potentially savings of hundreds of euro each month for home owners.

As a result, a number of mortgage holders are making the switch to a fixed-rate mortgage from standard variable rates.
Banks are offering a number of additional incentives to entice new customers in, but customers are advised to determine their annual repayments as a priority rather than a switching ‘carrot’.

PTSB Group Commercial Director Mark Coan said the new rates would offer real value to customers and peace of mind as speculation grows on possible interest rate rises later this year or early next year.
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