Talk the talk

Michael Mullins, partner with Cork-based accounting firm HLB Nathans, talks to David Clerkin.

Please tell us about the firm.

The firm was set up in 1970 by Vivian Nathan. There are now 100 employees and partners in Cork and Dublin. Our business is audit, taxation, corporate finance, wealth management and financial services.

What areas do you focus on? Who are your typical clients?

Client ranges from multinationals to family businesses to professional partnerships and sole traders. Our work includes dealing with international structures for the multinationals, management of all compliance matters, advising on the set-up and exit from Irish business and management and preservation of wealth.

You recently opened a new Dublin office. What future do you see for the office?

Twenty years ago we were the first Cork-based firm to do this. A presence in Dublin is required if a firm wishes to deal with multinationals.

I understand you are members of two international networks. Please tell us about these and how important they are for the firm.

We are members of HLB International and TTN. The HLB grouping has members in over 100 countries. We have found that enables us to have access to any information required by our clients in making business decisions worldwide.

TTN is a group of specialised tax firms. This group’s last meeting was in Stockholm. I learned Sweden has no gift or inheritance taxes - so perhaps I should advise my clients to retire there!

How has the firm grown in recent years? What’s driving this? Have the accounting and tax sides of the firm seen similar patterns?

The firm has thankfully grown rapidly in the last 10 years. We have a policy of growing our own managers, but we also recruit senior staff with diverse business backgrounds.

The biggest growth has been in the Corporate Finance/Taxation/Wealth Management unit and in acting as a specialised tax consultancy.

What’s your view on the Revenue investigation into single premium life policies? Will it provide another huge windfall to the State or is it much ado about nothing?

It was inevitable. It was signalled by Revenue as an area of concern during the Public Accounts Committee enquiry. I feel that the past must be cleared up, but Revenue being totally taken up in the enquiries are taking their eye off the ball on the international scene. Ireland is competitive because of its tax rates but other countries are fast catching up on us. We need Revenue to be up-to-date with the tax systems in other countries so they can prepare legislation for changes to keep Ireland competitive.

Hopefully all the investigations will be finished before the current Revenue chairman retires in two to three years.

What would you say to people who have no outstanding liabilities, but can’t provide records going back 20 years?

You have nothing to worry about.

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