PwC Cork has moved to One Albert Quay!
Launching PwC Cork's new office at One Albert Quay are (l-r) Anthony Reidy, Partner and Assurance Leader, PwC Cork; Ger O'Mahoney, Senior Partner and Advisory Leader, PwC Cork and Feargal O'Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC Ireland.
Commenting on the move, Feargal O’Rourke, Managing Partner, PwC Ireland, said: “Cork is a strategically important part of our business, serving many local and international clients and we will continue to invest in Cork and in all our regional offices in the future. The move in Cork significantly enhances our growth capacity in the region.
“Following strong growth over the last few years in Cork, we have ambitious growth plans to 2020 and beyond. And as Cork’s market leading firm, we look forward to helping our clients further expand their businesses right here in Cork and internationally.
“In a world that is demanding greater collaboration, our new facilities will be a superb environment for our clients to do business and for our people to work.
“Our expansion plans for assurance are directly linked to successes in the marketplace as well as companies looking for a broader range of comfort.
“The changing tax landscape is increasing demands for specialist services from both international and domestic companies.
“And with digital disruption everywhere, our strongest growth is in advisory as companies seek to leverage technology in everything they do as well as protect themselves from cyber attacks.
“One Albert Quay provides the perfect expansion platform for PwC Cork and we are delighted to serve this important market.”
Members of the PwC Cork team
Providing distinctive client service
Ger O’Mahoney, Senior Partner and Advisory Leader, PwC Cork
“The move to One Albert Quay is important to PwC Cork for a number of reasons, not least in that we were the first firm to sign up to the project even before the first block was laid.
“While it is, of course, great for us to be associated with this fantastic new development in the city, we would like to think that our belief in the project contributed in some way to the initial push that every great undertaking needs to get it going.
“Beyond the obvious advantages accruing in moving to the state-of-the-art building, PwC had long outgrown its space on the South Mall and needed a more expansive environment to reflect the firm’s continued growth.
“We had more than doubled our people numbers to 145, and were very much in need of the right kind of space to accommodate that growth. Also, it is very gratifying to be in a building that is consistent with our brand - excellent facilities for great clients and for top class talent.
“One Albert Quay is particularly strong in its offering for client hospitality.
“It has a very strong offering for meeting clients and was designed specifically to that end. Having a quality building and a quality offering is what the market demands in this new digital era.
“PwC has just won the 2016 GradirelandEmployer of the Year Award validating its excellent graduate recruitment programme. And noted for attracting the best and brightest to its team, PwC Cork recently underlined that strong firm ethos with the academic success of Emma Barry, who achieved joint first place in the 2015 Final Admitting Exam of Chartered Accountants Ireland.
“Emma is really the icing on the cake for us together with our 100% exam pass rate. We take in over 20 graduates every year in Cork, and one of our jobs is to nurture them, give them fantastic work experience and help get them through their exams, ready to explore the opportunities that exist for them out there. Our students have consistently bucked the trend of the national pass rate and for Emma to come first, two years in a row, is a magnificent achievement."
With plans already in train to recruit over 30 people, including qualified professionals, by December of this year, Ger does not rule out an increase in this figure as a result of the growing business sentiment in the region.
“Given the scope of developments already underway in Cork, which encompass the Capitol Cinema site, the South Mall, the Brewery Quarter and the plans for further expansion of the Docklands area, the hope is that we will have a pipeline of good quality office buildings coming on stream to meet the demands of Ireland’s very successful second city. For the first time in a number of years, there is the possibility of seeing multiple cranes across the city skyline, which gives hope that the opportunity to be realised will be capitalised.”
Looking to the future, Ger O’Mahoney sees PwC Cork continuing to grow its established client list of multinationals, indigenous local firms and emerging start-ups, as well as matching the firm’s talent base to the opportunities presented by emerging new businesses of the 21st century.
“While we have a core audit and assurance business, we are also focused on growing our tax and advisory offering which encompasses new ideas like data analytics, the digital space, cybersecurity and a host of new areas that did not exist five years ago. Having grown dramatically in these areas over the past five years, we will continue to hire in that area to meet demand. PwC Cork is a full service office, similar to Dublin or any international location, backed with deep expertise available from our global network. We are great believers in ‘provide your clients with what they want to buy, and not what you want to sell.’ And that’s very much how we see the future for PwC in Cork.”
Developing and retaining key talent for continued success in the region
Anthony Reidy, Partner and Assurance Leader, PwC Cork
Anthony Reidy leads the PwC Cork Assurance practice. He has seen this develop over the years with clients now needing a greater deal of comfort in all areas of business including giving stakeholders comfort that things are run the way they should be. While traditionally the firm’s bread and butter, it remains a very important part of the business requiring a multidisciplinary team and great industry knowledge and experience.
“One of the unique selling points of Ireland Inc, particularly for multinationals, up to now has primarily been tax, talent and technology. I see this reversing over the next number of years with talent taking over as the number one reason for companies to locate to Ireland. Cork is uniquely placed to capitalise on that given the strong third level offering here, in tandem with superior quality of life considerations that will encourage more graduates to root in the region.
“The well developed university system has responded and collaborated over the years with the commercial requirements of the region. This has ensured a continuous flow of sector directed graduates to meet the ever-changing talent demands of business in the region. The collaboration of the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and EMC to create the world’s first cloud computing degree is a prime example of this.
“Partnering with businesses to develop courses that are relevant has been a major success story for Cork, and people like UCC’s Dr Michael Murphy have been key to unlocking this advantage. The IDA consistently cites the biggest challenge to getting Foreign Direct Investment as having the right talent and skills in place, a fact underlined repeatedly in PwC surveys of Irish CEOs.
“The challenge facing business owners and HR departments in coming up with innovative ways of attracting and retaining talent has become more than just a straight pay issue, as work flexibility and associated benefits like healthcare and personal development opportunities rise higher on career wish-lists as well as an organisation’s track record on diversity and corporate social responsibility.
“Traditional models of the 9 to 5 workplaces have changed in the new world of 2016, as technology has redefined the workplace and allowed for factors like remote working in multiple time zones to become the norm.
“Strategies being employed by businesses in the region to attract and retain talent veer towards more flexible working environments, employee stock ownership plans, and, in the case of multinationals, bringing global roles here to Cork.
“Employees can now avail of progression opportunities by working in global roles secured here in the region with companies like Apple, EMC and Tyco, without leaving Cork.
“Local indigenous businesses, understandably slower to embrace the more sophisticated HR techniques initially, have now brought in share incentive plans and reallocated management strategies.
“Rather than presenting a challenge on the HR front, the multinationals have been good for indigenous companies in helping them professionalise their businesses and their talent management techniques.
“Combining the quality of life in Cork with the benefits of technology has allowed enterprises like the Ludgate digital hub in Skibbereen thrive to a point of employing 500 people in an area where it would have been unthinkable a decade ago. The first modern fibre optic cable in over twelve years coming ashore at Garretstown, linking North America and Europe marks another chapter in this increased connectivity between Cork and the world.
“Moving to One Albert Quay is a very important development for PwC and should be the start of a Docklands development where Cork can learn from some of the lessons of Dublin in terms of housing and parking - both major issues in urban living nowadays. It behoves everyone in business in the region to seek to influence the political and local government system as there exists a window of opportunity to be more innovative, agile and nimble in dealing with these issues and to position Cork as an alternative proposition for businesses to locate and talent to reside.”
Advising a new era of business expansion
Brian O’Brien, Advisory Director, PwC Cork
“We began our investment in Advisory Services in Cork in 2012 with a small team that has now grown to over thirty people - representing very dramatic growth over a short period of time. Advisory is a large part of the PwC national growth strategy and we are continuing to recruit both graduates and experienced hires in Cork in this area. We are seeing clients becoming more positive over the last twelve months. They are seeing more growth in their businesses and looking to invest in organic expansion or through acquisitions.
“Having endured an extended and challenging economic environment, PwC clients now have a significantly improved sentiment.
“Certainly we see 2016 as having started well for our clients and bodes well for the rest of the year. Jobs, new car sales, retail indices and all the traditional markers are moving in the right direction, all of which is contributing to greater confidence.
“The addition of buildings like One Albert Quay to the city skyline, and the future development of Cork’s Docklands are further bellwethers of the new expansionist commercial mood filtering through the region.
Covering three main service lines - Deals, Consulting and Risk Services - Advisory continues to reflect the increasingly vibrant commercial landscape of Cork and the general region.
“Deals effectively focuses on corporate finance and transactions - mergers & acquisitions and due diligence. It also covers structuring, funding and refinancing - all of which have been challenging in recent years, but with distinct improvements over recent times. The main change here is that banks have an appetite to lend money, albeit on terms that are acceptable to themselves - a situation that was not available just a few years ago.
“Where funding is forthcoming, it will generally be a blend of bank finance and equity from existing or private resources.
“The Consulting aspect of our firm encompasses strategy, operational effectiveness, human resource and business planning with clients. And with the impact of technology and digital disruption, we are seeing significant investments, including experienced hires, in the areas of digital, business analytics and technology implementation. We are seeing a great deal of activity around harnessing the valuable data sitting within organisations and how best to leverage it.
“The Risk Services sector is a growing area of PwC’s business, working with organisations as they become more focused on proactively managing risk.
“We assist in the areas of governance, internal controls, compliance and reporting. Certainly in recent times, the whole area of cybersecurity has become much more prominent and Pat Moran has recently joined PwC Ireland as a Partner leading our cybersecurity offering. As the cost of cyber attacks to business becomes ever more alarming in terms of both financial and reputational loss, this is very much an issue that is now a regular topic at board level.”
Leading on tax matters
Nicola Quinn, Tax Leader, PwC Cork
Nicola Quinn leads the PwC Cork tax team which deals with all areas of taxation including corporate tax, payroll taxes, VAT and transaction taxes.
“Our experienced tax team at PwC Cork deals with a wide variety of clients ranging from multinationals to large Irish corporates to family businesses and their shareholders. All of our taxation services are linked to providing the most effective and efficient solutions to our clients in conjunction with our assurance and advisory colleagues. We work in collaboration with our Dublin office and our global network to ensure that we are keeping clients up to date with all tax developments including the specialist advice needed to help our clients as they grow.”
The enhanced ergonomics of the new office will allow for even greater efficiency and collaboration as the firm continues to grow.
“Our hospitality facilities will enable us to host meetings and events to share new tax developments with our clients.”
The changes in accounting regulations and changes in company law are having an impact for tax.
“We work closely with our assurance colleagues to ensure that our clients are fully briefed on all of these issues. An example of this is the new Directors Compliance Statement introduced by the Companies Act 2014 where company Directors annually need to acknowledge responsibility for compliance with relevant obligations. This includes the need for Directors to confirm their compliance with tax laws by way of a formal compliance policy, robust compliance procedures and review of these procedures within the same financial period. We are working with a number of companies to ensure that they are meeting their obligations under this legislation.”
The recent economic turnaround continues to impact positively on Cork and its hinterland, a welcome reality that continues to enhance the overall business activity of the region.
“We are seeing our clients returning to more normal levels of business and, consequently, we are seeing more transactions (buying, selling, refinancing) happening. All of these transactions have significant tax implications and, therefore, we are involved from an early stage assisting our clients managing the taxes. We are also seeing a steady stream of new clients, partly due to the general increase in commercial activity and, additionally, because we have increased the scale and breadth of expertise of our tax team in recent years. One of the particular aspects I have observed in the marketplace since last summer is a change in relation to privately owned businesses. These businesses are starting to think about the future again. Having come through a challenging number of years where surviving was the central aim, these companies are now looking at succession planning and what will happen in the next 5 to 10 years. This is a marked change in what we saw in the previous few years.”
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