Cover Story Icon Accounting
“THE COMPANY HAS GROWN AND GONE ON ITS OWN JOURNEY, BUT IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE COMPANY. IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE THAT MAKE UP THE BUSINESS.”
to Work, the worldwide body that assesses the culture, performance and perspective of staff on a wide range of issues. “We are a small company so it’s difficult to compete against the likes of the multinationals where there are often lots of benefits so we’re trying to phase them in,” says Kiernan. “We put a health plan in place whereby everyone gets a free health check every year. It is things like that that we’re trying to build.” Cognisant of the stiff competition for talent, this year, Icon Accounting introduced a new graduate programme and in the summer, took on two new graduates. Something that Kiernan has identified when interviewing candidates from this generation is their willingness to ask about the benefits available. “They have high expectations,” he affirms. “So we’re trying to compete, we sell the company on our culture, we do give benefits, and there’s a real sense of fairness in the business.”
whereby staff get the opportunity to integrate into different departments. The winners can earn themselves as much as a weekend trip away. A new sick pay scheme, special themed days at work, and employees being encouraged to upskill where possible are some of the other benefits that the company has introduced. It is measures such as these that saw Icon Accounting recently become certified by Great Place
So having gone from what was a one-man operation to a strong performing business with a staff of 28, Kiernan must have learned a few lessons along the way. What advice would he give to others trying to build a company from the ground up? “If you put the hours in, you’ll get the opportunities,” he says. “Opportunities will come. When you get that opportunity make sure to look after your customers. If you look after them they look after you. “I think you can get consumed with business plans as the Holy Grail to success, but in reality, any working environment can change so rapidly. We can all put something down on paper. For me, it’s about getting the head down, working hard and getting your hands dirty.” With ten years’ as a business owner behind him, where can Kiernan expect Icon Accounting to be in a decade from now? “We see the nature of our work evolving,” he says. “People are offering their services in different ways – freelancing and independent professional contractors are evolving. We want to be at the forefront of that. The market that we’re in will be larger; it will offer more services to these professionals – whether it’s international services, financial services or accounting.” We can also expect to see Icon
Accounting receive more business from the UK in the not so distant future. Due to uncertainty around Brexit, there has been a significant rise in the number of British professional contractors looking to supply services in Ireland and Kiernan expects this to translate to new clients. “We do see ourselves going into the UK markets over the next five to ten years and also into Europe eventually.” Before we wrap up, we’re keen to gain some important insider knowledge from Kiernan, the kind that not every industry insider will disclose. Are accountants as boring as they are perceived to be? “They are!” jokes Kiernan. “But seriously, I think it’s more a perception of the firms and the industry as boring rather than the individual. You know, they’re just people like us. From my experience a lot of traditional firms are quite conservative, they don’t embrace technology as quick as other industries, for example. “However, it’s probably a running joke with us that we definitely aren’t [boring]. Our work practices aren’t boring, our outlook with clients isn’t boring, and everything that we do is quite modern.” You heard it here first.
Did You Know? In 2014, Icon Accounting was among three companies that founded the Professional Contractor Service Organisation (PSCO), a group representing the professional contractor services industry. Through submissions to the Department of Finance highlighting the pivotal role and positive contribution of contractors to the Irish economy, it has put forward proposals around expenses, recognition and certification. For a detailed look at how Budget 2019 will impact on professional contractors visit www.iconaccounting.ie/news.
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