ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: MONETARY POLICY
Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev 10 WAYS TO START SAVING IN 2017 10 REASONS WHY YOUR WEBSITE COULD BE LOSING YOU BUSINESS HOW TO SET SMART WORK GOALS 5 APPS TO BOOST PRODUCTIVITY MEET THE TEAM
TABLE OF CONTENTS Economic Outlook: Monetary Policy - Dr.Constantin Gurdgiev Legal Briefs 5 Apps To Boost Productivity 10 Ways To Start Saving in 2017 Business Briefs 10 Reasons Why Your Website Could Be Losing You Business 3 Tips For Online Networking Success 5 Fitness Apps To Keep Your New Years Resolutions in Check How To Set SMART Work Goals Meet The Team Range of Services
WELCOME Welcome to Februaryâ€™s newsletter.
We hope that the first few weeks of 2017 have been good for you and that you will continue to have a successful year. We hope you find the articles in this newsletter of interest to you and your business and should you have any suggestions for future editions, please let us know. If you have any queries or we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange an appointment.
Denis Lane & Gary Buchan.
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Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev Something interesting has been brewing in the monetary policy world in recent weeks, something that is a matter of concern for the investors and private sector players in the real economy. In December, the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation rose above the 2 percent mark for the first time in more than two and a half years. To-date, over the current monetary cycle, the highest inflation reading was reached in May 2014, at 2.13 percent. That uplift in 2014, however, was promptly erased by the strengthening of the dollar and the falling energy prices. This time again, energy prices were the key driver of inflation changes. The energy subcomponent of the CPI rose 5.4 percent at the end of 2016, posting its highest gain in 59 months. Meanwhile, in the Euro area, annual inflation jumped to 1.1 percent in December, up 0.9 percentage points on December 2015 rate. This means that at the end of 2016, Euro area inflation was at its highest since 3Q 2013. Six of the Euro area members, had December price increases that were above the 2 percent ECB policy target. Energy prices, once again, were topping inflationary
pressures. The energy component of the harmonised index of consumer prices rose 2.6 percent year-on-year, having posted deflationary readings in July-November 2016. The above data suggest that the current cycle of extreme monetary accommodation, now into its 100th month in the case of the Euro area and 109th month in the case of the US is drawing to a close. In the wake of the US Fedâ€™s December decision to raise its benchmark rate and increase guidance for 2017 rate outlook, and the ECBâ€™s January decision to continue with reductions in its assets purchasing programme volumes over 2017, the only matters still open for the debate are: how fast and how far will the Central Banks go into the tightening cycle? The answer to these questions will determine how rapid and pronounced the subsequent decline in economic growth and assets repricing in investment markets will be.
International Official Interest Rates G6 average and G3 average
G6 rate 8
5-year G6 averages 6
G3 rate 4
Source: author own calulations based on data from FRED, Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of England G6: Australia, Canada, Euro area (pre-1999 Germany), Japan, the UK, and the U.S. G3: Euro area (pre-1999 Germany), Japan and the U.S.
MOVING ONTO MONETARY TIGHTENING CURVE Based on the data through mid-January, the G3 (Euro area, Japan and the US) policy rate currently sits at 0.18 percent, up on 0.09 percent for March-November 2016 and the highest since October 2013. Despite the December 2016 hike in the US Fed rate and the ECB policy tilt toward guiding higher retail lending rates over the course of 2017, the current interest rates environment remains extraordinarily accommodative. In the Euro area, today’s rates differential compared to the pre-crisis historical average, is at 4.3 percentage points. In the US, the current gap between today’s policy rates and pre-crisis historical average is a whopping 5.78 percentage points. Closing these gaps will require an uplift in average credit costs of around 4-5.5 percentage points in the longer term. Based on growth forecasts from the World Bank, the IMF, the Fed and the ECB, the so-called neutral funds rate (the rate that would put the US economy in line with its long-term inflation target, while retaining full employment) is around 3 percent. For the Euro area, a similar rate would be closer to the 2.75 percent mark. These imply medium term (to 2020-2021) increases in the credit costs of some 3-3.25 percentage points for both the Euro area and the US when it comes to the credit extended by the banks to corporate and household borrowers. In the case of the ECB the most recent policy announcement outlined the prospect of gradual ratcheting up of credit costs through, first reductions in the Frankfurt-administered asset purchasing programme. Direct rates increases are, for now, not on the books, although changing inflationary outlook can alter that too. Still, irrespective of the tools deployed by each Central Bank, one thing remains indisputable – barring a major shock to the economies, the end of monetary easing cycle is already upon us, and the dynamics of rates ‘normalisation’ are likely to impact directly the current levels of real economic debt (debt held by nonfinancial corporations, households and the governments).
THE SCALE OF RISKS INVOLVED To put this number in perspective, the IMF estimates that global GDP grew by US$1.61 trillion in 2016. In other words, monetary policy changes expected over the course of 2017 can result in taking out the equivalent of almost a quarter of the annual growth recorded in 2016.
Consider three facts about the Government debt. In the 5 years 2012-2016 (post-onset of the recovery) Government debt around the world rose 11.4 percent in level terms, and 14.51 percentage points as a share of GDP per capita. Globally, total volume of Government debt was estimated by the IMF to be at US$63.2 trillion at the end of 2016. More than half of the increase over the last five years or US$3.9 trillion came from the Emerging and Developing Economies, and US$2.3 trillion came from G7 economies. Crucially, some US$48-50 trillion worth of global government debt is at play when it comes to the changes in euro area and US interest rates. Next, look at the household debt. In 2007, the total amount of outstanding household debt in the US was around US$12.5 trillion, roughly in line with the end of 2016 estimates based on the first nine months of 2016 data made back in November last year. Meanwhile, based on the data through 3Q 2016, household debt in the Euro area currently stands at around US$6.9 trillion, virtually in line with 2008 levels. More crucially, Euro area household debt currently runs at around 94 percent of the median household income, slightly above the 2008 reading of 93.3 percent. Estimating global household debt exposures to Euro and the U.S. dollar fortunes is harder, as mortgages and other loans issued by the banks in these currencies for borrowers residing outside the US and the Euro area are not reported in full in the ECB and Fed statistics. However, at least US$21-22 trillion of household debt is currently at a mercy of US and Euro area interest rates. Finally, consider the corporate debt markets. Based on the data from the US Treasury Department, the total U.S. non-financial corporate debt pile currently stands at around US$ 11.4 trillion, including short term debt. Meanwhile, based on the figures from the IMF report from December 2016, the stock of non-financial corporate debt issued by the emerging market economies is at around US$19 trillion. Much of this debt too is denominated in U.S. dollars and Euros. Data from the ECB, covering the first three quarters of 2016, puts the Euro area non-financial corporations’ gross debt liabilities at around 132 percent of GDP, or close to US$15.2 trillion. Adding up the above volumes, some US$38-40 trillion worth of corporate debt is bearing risk exposures to the US Fed’s and the ECB’s policies. All, in changes in policy rates and, more broadly, normalization of the monetary policy environment in the US and the Euro area, gradual as it may be, will impact directly and indirectly some estimated US$107-112 trillion worth of real economic debt around the world. Over the course of 2017, the current consensus forecast is for the US Fed to raise policy rates by 75 basis points. Market consensus forecast for the Euro area bank lending rates is to increase by some 50 basis points even assuming the ECB takes no action on tightening its base rate or tilting down the current path of projected asset purchases. Full year impact of such policy changes can amount to cutting up to US$375 billion out of the global economy due to higher cost of debt servicing.
On the longer term horizon, normalisation of the US and Euro area monetary policies can cost the global economy between US$3.7 and US$4.5 trillion over the course of the next 4-5 years. Again, using IMF projections for GDP growth out to 2021, this debt re-pricing can cut total global economic expansion by at least one fifth. The above estimates ignore a range of additional factors that are virtually impossible to estimate with any precision, but are offering a prospect of catastrophic unwinding in the global economic recovery.
Firstly, much of the global debt has been financialised either through the securitised or leveraged bank lending or through bond markets. Substantial uplift in the cost of debt will simultaneously reduce the book value of banks’ assets and induce higher rates of debt defaults by companies and households. Secondly, global debt repricing will both directly, and indirectly, impact the solvency of the world’s second largest economy – China. In the last 5 years, Chinese economy dependency on debt has increased more than 41 percent in renmimbi terms, and reached almost 280 percent of the country GDP by the end of 3Q 2016. A substantial shock to this leverage can push the Chinese economy into a stagflationary scenario, if the Government attempts to monetise corporate debt defaults, or trigger a recession, should policy makers allow companies to go under as credit costs rise. Thirdly, any tightening in monetary policies is likely to further depress already weak capital investment in the advanced economies. Per latest Eurostat data, 3Q 2016 corporate investment rate fell to its second lowest reading in 12 quarters, while gross fixed capital formation shrunk 0.6 percent quarter-on-quarter. This marks the worst reading for capital investment growth in 14 quarters and the worst reading for any 3Q period on record. Raising capital investment costs any further risks causing a large scale decline in corporate investment across the euro area. Fourthly, there is a more narrow channel for monetary tightening transmission – the one operating via bond yields alone. A hike of just 1 percentage point in the markets-determined US bond yields implies some 4.2 percentage decline in corporate earnings, and, based on the OECD model, a drop of 0.2 percentage points in the U.S. GDP. There is an added second order effect operating within the channel through negative impact of rising bond yields on corporate leverage risks and capital investment.
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STANCE In simple terms, the confluence of monetary policy cycle reversal and the recent expansion of debt across all three sectors of the real economy (Government, corporate and household) linked to the Euro and the US dollar is now threatening a global crisis on par with the one experienced in the 2008-2011 period. The defensive investment position in this environment entails investors unwinding long holdings of highly indebted companies and shifting out of bonds into real assets. On the funding side, companies and individual investors need to significantly reduce
their exposure to leverage risks by refinancing their debt to longer-term fixed rates contracts and reducing overall levels of debt carried on the books. Rebalancing away from leverage also means accepting lower short-term returns in exchange for higher long-run risk-adjusted returns. Such a pivot in investment strategy requires paying close attention to taxes and fees associated with investment portfolios, necessitating greater focus on tax planning and portfolio costs optimisation.
Dr Constantin Gurdgiev is the Adjunct Assistant Professor of Finance with Trinity College, Dublin and serves as a co-founder and a Director of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation Ltd and the Chairman of Ireland Russia Business Association. He holds a non-executive appointment on the Investment Committee of Heniz Global Asset Management, LLC (US). In the past, Dr Constantin Gurdgiev served as the Head of Research with St Columbanus AG (Switzerland), the Head of Macroeconomics with the Institute for Business Value, IBM, Director of Research with NCB Stockbrokers Ltd and Group Editor and Director of Business and Finance Publications. He also held a non-executive appointment on the Investment Committee of GoldCore Ltd (Ireland) and Sierra Nevada College (US). Born in Moscow, Russian, Dr. Gurdgiev was educated in the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Chicago, John Hopkins University and Trinity College, Dublin.
LEGAL BRIEFS FITZGERALD REJECTS CASE FOR REFORM OF EUROPEAN JUDGE NOMINATION PROCESS The process of nominating Irish judges to the European courts does not need to be reformed, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has told TDs. Ms Fitzgerald addressed the Dáil Justice Committee in mid January as it began pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2016. Ms Fitzgerald’s Government colleague, Independent TD and
IRELAND MAKING PROGRESS ON RATIFICATION OF DISABILITY CONVENTION Considerable progress has been made to overcome the barriers to Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a Government Minister has said. Finian McGrath, Minister of State for Disability, updated TDs on the issue as he announced the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 will be presented to the Dáil for second stage on 7th and 8th February. He commented that considerable progress has already been made to overcoming the ratification of the Convention. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law last year and is a comprehensive reform of
FITZGERALD DEFENDS ROBUST ‘IN CAMERA’ RULE IN FAMILY LAW PROCEEDINGS The in camera rule in family law cases is sufficiently robust and not in need of review, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said. Responding to a question in the Dáil, Ms Fitzgerald said she was satisfied with the changes made under the oversight of her predecessor, Justice Minister Alan Shatter. The Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 allows members of the press to be present in court during family law and child care proceedings and to report on them, subject to strict conditions. Ms Fitzgerald said the reform of the in camera rule was made to enable the media, researchers and legal professionals to gain access to valuable information on the operation of the
Transport Minister Shane Ross, is widely seen to have strongarmed the Government into taking the legislation forward by threatening to block judicial appointments at a Cabinet level. She has affirmed her support for measures demanded by Mr Ross, including a lay majority on the new judicial appointments commission. But whereas Mr Ross has said that nominations to the EU courts should also be brought under the Bill’s remit, Ms Fitzgerald disagrees. Ms Fitzgerald told the committee that she was prepared to discuss the issue with them but believed that the current arrangement works efficiently and has produced excellent representatives in the Courts.
the law on decision-making capacity. Work is underway on a number of additional issues that will be addressed in the Bill as Committee Stage amendments and in the Department of Health on legislative proposals in relation to meeting the Convention’s requirement on deprivation of liberty. The Department of Justice said the Bill will be progressed to enactment at an early date to facilitate ratification as soon as possible. The key elements of the new assisted decision-making arrangements provided for in the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, as well as the proposed deprivation of liberty provisions, will also have to come into effect for the ratification of the convention. Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald said that the new decision-making support options provided for in the Act will be substantially implemented during 2017.
law in this area. The results of this change have been seen in increased coverage of family law proceedings in print and other media. The coverage has proven in the majority of cases to be responsible in that whilst highlighting issues in the public interest it has been done in such a way as to protect the identities of those involved. Under the Act, it remains open to the court to exclude representatives of the media from the court or otherwise restrict their attendance during the hearing or parts of it, or restrict or prohibit the publication or broadcasting of evidence given or referred to during the proceedings. The Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 also prohibits the publication or broadcasting of any information which would be likely to lead members of the public to identify the parties to family law proceedings or any children to whom the proceedings relate.
APPS 5 to Boost Productivity
It’s the great paradox of our time on earth. We have all the technology at our disposal, yet we have less time than ever. Why? Because we’re not using it effectively, and sometimes, we are so distracted by unproductive technology that we forget the important tasks. Other than that, there are those tedious, repetitive tasks that suck the energy and motivation out of our days.
Here are some of the best productivity apps that you can use to make the most of your day and perhaps even free up some time to do the things you enjoy most.
ANY.DO for iOS and Android If you’re a fan of the old To Do List, this is for you! Instead of trying to wing it, hoping you will remember all your tasks throughout the day, try Any.do. This free app will allow you to quickly and easily create a To Do List and it will even remind you when a task is due. The + symbol allows you to select your task from a list of available actions, including Call, Email, Meet, Clean, Buy, Send, Make and Pay which can be customised to your task. For the call and email functions, it will allow you to access your contacts in order to select the correct person. Add your calendar to keep all your tasks in a central place, and share it with others.
GOODNOTES for iOS Turn your iPad into a notebook with Goodnotes! Use your stylus or Apple Pencil to take notes, and back items up into the cloud. Now you no longer have to search through notebooks and scraps of paper, because it’s all right there on Goodnotes. You can even convert your handwritten notes to text for saving, emailing and sharing. As if that’s not exciting enough, the app is also available for your iPhone. Simply import PDF documents that need to be signed. There’s no need to print, sign, scan and email - it’s done in seconds on your phone. Imagine the time you’ll save!
EVERNOTE for iOS, Android and Web If you use different devices, Evernote is the secret to having everything available wherever you need it, since the app syncs across all your devices. The Windows and Mac app for desktop allows you to encrypt your notes. Items are organised according to specific notebooks, and they include relevant to do lists and notes. Search across notes, and collaborate with your team on group projects, since everything is updated as you go along. The basic app is free, with additional features on the premium upgrade.
SLACK for iOS, Android and Web Speaking of collaboration, Slack is a great app for project management. It combines all the benefits of instant messaging and file sharing into one great system. Additionally, the developers are constantly adding additional features, such as voice calls. You can even add your favourite services into Slack, such as Skype video calls or Qualtrics for surveys. Create channels for your different topics or teams, or communicate privately or with the whole company. Finally, Slack enables you to create a searchable archive. You only need to pay if you want to maintain a complete archive, and you have fairly heavy usage.
IFTTT for iOS, Android and Web Ever dreamed about connecting your services in order to cut out the manual input from the middleman (you)? Well, IFTTT allows you to do just that. Short for If This Then That, the app reacts to events on one service, by setting in motion an event on another service. For example, it can update a Google sheet with information every time that you add a new contact to your LinkedIn account. It is available for a vast range of cloud services, instant messaging platforms, and various devices in your smart home. You can create your own ÂŤrecipesÂť on If This Then That, or you can customise public recipes. The objective of this app is to help you save time.
Ways Start Saving in
How did 2016 treat you? For most, it was a roller-coaster ride. It’s as though the world as a whole heaved a collective sigh of relief when New Year’s rolled around... Still, a lot of insecurity prevails politically and economically. We can’t control how everything will turn out, but we do have control over how we plan our finances. Use these ten tips to plan for 2017.
4. CAR INSURANCE
A budget is the number one key to financial security. Use your bank statement to estimate your direct debits, transport, groceries and weekly expenses. When you know what’s due, it is easier to control your spending. In addition to your weekly expenses, plan for less frequent expenses, such as birthdays, Christmas, property tax and back-to-school by adding up the costs and dividing it by 12.
Perhaps this will be the year that insurance premiums finally stabilise after years of under-charging. Keep your premiums down by claiming discounts for factors such as owning a garage, low mileage, cross-insuring with your partner and small engine size.
Transfer your household fund that pays for the above bills into an online savings account on pay-day.
5. HEALTH INSURANCE
2. HOUSE INSURANCE It’s important to switch every year in order to avoid overpaying on this wildly expensive, yet necessary budget item. Many plans are identical, and unsuspecting people lose out by opting for plans that simply roll over. Many families overpay on house insurance because they use the value of their homes as the sum insured, which is typically higher than the rebuild cost. Unfortunately, in a claim, you will only receive the rebuild cost. Use the Chartered Surveyors calculator on www.scsi.ie to calculate the rebuild cost of your home.
Speak to a specialist broker to find the best plan in 2017.
6. MOBILE PHONE
Cost your household contents properly, rather than using a percentage of the house insurance. Calculate how much it will cost to replace your clothing, furniture and other household goods, and ask your insurer to reduce the house insurance figure.
3. LIFE INSURANCE
Bill pay customers have benefited from significant drops in mobile phone costs. However, since you typically have to sign a two-year contract, it’s vital to do your homework. Be sure that you know exactly what you will get for your money, and consider switching to a different provider. You will get to keep your number.
Life insurance rates have dropped, which means that if you have had your mortgage for longer than eight years, chances are that you’re overpaying on your mortgage protection. Ask your broker to give you a new quote, but don’t cancel the existing cover until you have a new policy in place.
Carphone Warehouse is a great help in choosing the right deal on a mobile phone. Compare offers based on what you need most - online access, calls, or texts. Tesco Mobile currently offers a €30-a-month plan with a free iPhone 5S.
It’s always nice to get away for a while, and early in the year there are always lovely early-bird bargains, including discount airfare and free stays for kids. Prices increase later in the year, so visit your local travel agent. Remember, bonded agents offer a guarantee in the event that something goes wrong.
Grocery shopping is a significant part of every household budget, yet people waste a lot of food. Shop around for deals on groceries, and try out no-name brands - they may pleasantly surprise you! Planning your weekly menu in advance, and only buy the perishables you will definitely consume before they expire. Learning to use your freezer more effectively will also go a long way to ensuring your food stays fresher for longer.
9. POCKET MONEY
Some parents see pocket money for the kids as an additional expense, but it is actually a good investment in their future. Pocket money teaches kids to manage a budget from an early age. Pay them €1 per year of their age, and specify how they should use the money. Help them to set goals, and put their money into a simple account or piggy bank. If they spend it all, don’t top them up!
10. TAX CREDITS
Claiming tax credit is not too complex, and it’s money that is due to you. Home Carer’s credit, for example is worth €1,000 a year, yet 65% of people don’t bother to claim it because they assume it is only for families who care for a sick or disabled person, which is not the case. You can claim Home Carer’s credit if you are a stay-at-home spouse earning less than €7,200 a year.
BUSINESS BRIEFS ALMOST 28MILLION PASSENGERS USED DUBLIN AIRPORT IN 2016 Passengers numbers at Dublin Airport reached an all-time high last year with a record 27.9 million passengers. The impressive figures sees an increase of 11% in comparison with the previous year, more than four times the population of Ireland. Dublin Airport experienced significant growth across both its short-haul and long-haul networks - and traffic performance exceeded the record set in 2015 by over 2.8 million passengers. Managing Director at Dublin Airport, Vincent Harrison commented that the airport had a very strong performance
EGYPTIAN MARKET REOPENS TO IRISH BEEF Irish and Egyptian authorities have reached an agreement to reopen the market in the North African country to Irish beef for the first time in more than 16 years. Under the terms of the deal, five Irish plants are approved to begin beef exports to Egypt, once necessary arrangements are in place. Before Egypt banned Irish beef exports in November 2000 over BSE fears, the country had been one of the largest markets for the product. Egypt is now the largest consumer market in the Middle East and North Africa with around 95 million consumers. It is the third biggest destination for Irish agri-food exports (which
€38BN CONTRIBUTED TO ECONOMY BY PHYSICS-BASED INDUSTRY Industry based on physics contributes €38bn a year to the Irish economy, a new report from the Institute of Physics has claimed. However, the organisation says if Ireland is to sustain this work and continue to build its physics based industries, there needs to be strong support for basic research. The study, carried out by the UK based Centre for Economic and Business Research, examined the period of 2011-2014 to see what contribution physics based industries including electrical component manufacturing, extraction of oil and gas and computer service make here. It found they
in 2016 with double digit growth across their largest market segments and gained new passengers and added additional routes. Almost 24.3 million passengers took short-haul flights to and from Dublin - an increase of 11% on an annual basis while long-haul passenger numbers increased by 12% from the previous year to more than 3.6 million. According to Mr Harrison, additional connectivity at the airport has also helped to boost business between Ireland and its trading partners. 2016 was the 6th consecutive year of traffic growth and since Terminal 2 opened in 2010, annual traffic through the airport has increased by 9.5 million passengers.
were almost exclusively dairy and seafood) to Africa, with exports of €45 million in 2015. This latest deal comes following the opening of the Egyptian market to live Irish cattle in February 2016. It also includes approval for beef offal and a limited approval for particular types of sheep-meat products. Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the deal is an example of achieving market access goals outlined in the Food Wise 2025 strategy. The Department of Agriculture’s search for new 3rd country markets has taken on an additional urgency given the UK’s upcoming exit from the EU. The Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) welcomed the deal but noted that announcing new export opportunities is pointless unless primary beef producers can see a resultant improvement in their cattle prices.
generated €49bn in turnover in 2013 alone, equivalent to 14% of the overall turnover in the business economy. 287,000 people are employed in the sectors, representing nearly 9% of total employment, which is greater than both the financial and construction sectors. In 2014 the industries accounted for just under 83% of all external research and development spending, and each employee accounts for around €138,000 a year in added value to the economy. Chairperson of the Institute, Dr Mark Lang, also said that while Ireland is a strong physics nation, it must strongly support basic research if that is to continue. The report has been welcomed by Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan, who said more must be done to ensure a greater number of schools offer physics at Leaving Cert.
GOODBODY STOCKBROKERS PREDICT ANOTHER YEAR OF DEFICIT REDUCTION The latest data from the final Exchequer returns suggests that Ireland’s Budget deficit came in very close to its 0.9% of GDP target in 2016. Final confirmation will not be available until March, but Goodbody Stockbrokers predict the numbers published in January show that the deficit came in slightly below the forecast outturn from the Budget last October. This represents the seventh consecutive annual fall in the Budget deficit from its peak of 12% of GDP in 2009. They claim the progress could have been even more significant were it not for another year of spending creep over the final months of the year. Having been €784 million below expectations in the first eleven months of 2016,
IRISH SMEs MORE UPBEAT ABOUT ECONOMY THAN EUROPEAN PEERS Irish small and medium-sized businesses are more positive about the future of the economy than their peers in the UK and across Europe, a new survey shows. The survey, conducted via Facebook in collaboration with the OECD and the World Bank among 140,000 small businesses (200 in Ireland) in 33 countries, finds that Irish SMEs are more upbeat than their European counterparts despite the particular risks posed to Irish businesses by Brexit and potential protectionist policies pursued by the US. With regards to the current operating environment, the survey shows that just 44% of European SMEs are positive,
ENTERPRISE IRELAND EXCEEDS THREE-YEAR JOB CREATION TARGET More than 19,000 jobs were created by businesses supported by Enterprise Ireland last year. The agency has said it has exceeded its three-year target with 45,592 new full-time jobs being created. Between 2014 and 2016, close to 46,000 jobs were created
NEW STARTUPS PASS 20,000 IN ‘ROBUST RECOVERY’ The number of new startup companies in Ireland has risen past the 20,000 mark for the first time in almost two decades, according to new statistics published by the online companies website Vision-net.ie. Just under 21,000 new companies registered in Ireland in 2016, an 8% rise compared to 2015.
spending finished €406m above expectations for the full year, due to a spending surge in a number of different areas of current and capital spending. Goodbody say these decisions were triggered by an outperformance of tax receipts during the year. Tax receipts did outperform original expectations (by €639 million), but disappointed relative to the forecasts set out in the Budget in October by €250million. For the full-year, corporate tax receipts accounted for all of the overshoot, but this category can be volatile. According to Goodbody Stockbrokers, 2016 was another year of progress for the Irish public finances, but they cautioned that this does not mean Ireland is out of the woods in relation to its debt/deficit position. The company noted that tax revenues finished up 5% in 2016, having been up by 9% at the half year mark and suggested it may have been wise to save some of the windfall than to spend on some recurrent spending projects.
compared with 53% of Irish businesses. And Irish businesses are also more positive about the economic outlook, with 69% saying they are positive compared with 58% across Europe and 66% in the UK. When it comes to job-creation, however, Irish growth expectations lag their European peers. While 17% of Irish SMEs said they created jobs in the last six months, compared with 16% in Europe, more European companies (26%) say they want to create jobs in the next six months than Irish companies (24%). Among Irish SMEs, the most common challenges identified were attracting customers (75%); increasing revenue (55%); and maintaining profitability (42%). The most common uses of online tools were advertising to potential new customers (75%); showing products/services (75%); and providing information (65%).
with digital technology and construction the best performers. Almost two-thirds of the jobs created were outside Dublin. Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive, Julie Sinnamon, commented that the focus of Enterprise Ireland over the last 3 years was to deliver jobs and drive enterprise and that this has worked with the new jobs created. Ambitious targets have now been set for 2017-2020 with the aim to support more Irish companies with global ambition including increasing client company exports to €26 billion per annum by the end of 2020 and to grow the level of exports to over two thirds outside the UK during the same period.
Dublin posted the highest percentage of new businesses (45.5%) with Cork (12%) Galway (4%), Kildare (3.5%) and Limerick (3%) following. Managing Director of vision-net.ie, Christine Cullen, commented that it is evident to see that Ireland has now entered a post-austerity economic cycle powered by strong-growth. Both the finance and construction industries performed particularly well with 44% and 14% new set ups respectively.
REASONS Why Your Website Could Be Losing You Business
IT LACKS CREDIBILITY
Your website is probably the most valuable asset your business possesses - provided you don’t make these common mistakes. A business website used to be a luxury, but that’s no longer the case. If your business doesn’t have a website, you’re missing out on an important business tool. A website provides an effective form of communicating with your target audience. Yet, not all websites are equal, and it may lack efficiency for many reasons. Here are the top 10 reasons why websites fail.
IT IS TOO SLOW
What is in a credible website? Firstly, it has a current design and it is regularly maintained. While you don’t have to update your website on a monthly basis, it doesn’t help if you have not had a decent website makeover in the last 2-3 years either.
Nearly half of all consumers are not prepared to wait more than two seconds for a page to load and nearly 80% of all shoppers who don’t enjoy the user experience on a site, are less likely to return to the site again.
If your site looks as though it was built in the 90s, it is time for a major overhaul.
Use GTmetrix and Pingdom to test your site speed and gain valuable insights and tips on how to improve the speed of your website.
IT’S NOT RESPONSIVE Handheld devices have surpassed desktop usage and this mobile revolution is set to continue. If your site is not optimised for mobile use, you are definitely missing out on a huge chunk of the market. Many websites are still not mobile friendly, and this is causing them to be penalised in search engine rankings. The result is that fewer people find the sites, and conversion rates are decreased. Most importantly, it provides a poor user experience for visitors. Responsive web design uses large buttons and simple layouts that are automatically resized for smaller screens.
IT IS CLUTTERED Few things are as annoying as auto playing videos or music to welcome guests, other than flashy text, bright colours and too many banner ads. Apart from being annoying, it also slows down the load time of the page, which means that today’s fast-paced consumer will most likely click away from your site. These days, most people browse sites on their mobile devices, which means that your site should be neat, clean and wellorganised. Present information in a clear and concise manner and ensure that graphic elements are easily digestible.
IT IS TOO COMPLEX As an expert in your field, you may be tempted to try to demonstrate your authority in the field by showcasing all your knowledge. However, only fellow industry experts will understand all the jargon. Your average customer will not understand your technical jargon. Stick with simple language that your customers will understand.
IT LACKS CONTENT People visit websites because they want answers. Your website is the place where you can provide your target audience with the information and valuable solutions. Be sure to deliver fresh, valuable information and answers to your audience’s burning questions. People may not be searching for your business in particular, but for a related service and product. For instance, a person looking for ways to save money may land upon a financial services website, which is why an insurance broker might like to blog about budgeting for a holiday, so that their site is then found in Google searches for “budgeting” or “saving”. Too much information to go on your site? Use your blog to establish yourself as an authority in your field and to boost your marketing and search engine optimisation efforts.
IT OFFERS POOR NAVIGATION Many business owners view additional pages as an afterthought when they design and market websites. As such, all their traffic is directed towards the home page. In reality, the home page is not all that important. Specific landing pages are more important to your various customers, so direct relevant traffic there instead.
IT LACKS USER EXPERIENCE As a webmaster, you have to ensure that your site works as it should at all times. Test it regularly to see that the payment platform or shopping cart works and that there are no missing or broken links.
IT LACKS CALLS-TO-ACTION You don’t need to be too subtle on your website. Remember, most of your visitors will be unfamiliar with the creative processes that went into creating your site and therefore, they need to be guided to the relevant pages on your site. Provide them with clear calls-to-action or hyperlinks that are plainly visible and selfexplanatory. Action buttons should stand out, with clear instructions, such as ‘‘sign up’’, ‘‘download’’, and ‘‘click here’’. Visitors are polite, in that they want to be invited to take the next step. Make the process easier for them in order to generate more conversions.
ESSENTIAL INFORMATION IS HARD TO FIND People are directed to your site to find general information about the products or services you offer. Once you have charmed them with your knowledge and expertise, they may want to engage with your company. You need to make that process as easy for them as possible, by providing information they may need to proceed. This could include: • Your company’s address and a map link, if you have a brick and mortar business. • Contact information, including your phone and email, should ideally be displayed in the same place on every page. • Social media plugins, for visitors who want to share your info or connect. • ‘About Us’ page, so that they know who you are and what you do. • Pricing, as many people will not be prepared to contact you unless they know that they can afford it. • Business hours, so that they know when to contact or visit you. Many businesses don’t include all this information on their websites and security conscious visitors may avoid such sites. In most cases, it is free and simple to add this information to a website.
ONLINE NETWORKING SUCCESS for
Use this strategy to make the most of your online connections
It’s becoming ever more common for professionals to work with colleagues and clients across the globe and in order to stay competitive, it’s important to master online marketing. Use these three tips to connect with other professionals via Linkedin and other online channels.
Reach Out Instead of aimlessly posting updates, find five to ten individuals whom you consider attainable contacts. Follow these people on social media and be sure to engage with them on a regular basis. You could comment on their posts, retweet, answer their questions, or share thoughtful responses to their updates.
Attract New Contacts Find a way to draw suitable contacts to you. A great way to do this, is to write thoughtful articles or blog posts to provide valuable information, or to share your point of view on a topic related to your niche. Someone who is interested in what you share, might discover your article and become interested in your product or service.
Solidify Your Online Connections In-person networking provides a great ‘‘bookend’’ to solidify online connections. If you know one of your online connections will be at an event you’re attending, send them a direct message via your social media network of choice. Use this opportunity to introduce yourself and request an in-person meeting at the event. Once you have met in person, you will be more memorable on social media, which you can use to keep the connection alive.
PACT for iOS and Android
to Keep Your 2017 Resolutions in Check Don’t blame yourself for overindulging over the last month or so. Instead, take action with the help of these awesome fitness apps.
Unless you’re a natural-born gym-bunny who loves the rush of adrenaline in the weights section of the gym and the buzz of the treadmill, Pact is just the app for you. If you’re feeling guilty paying for a gym membership you’re not using, Pact is the guilt-inducing cherry on top. Use the app to commit to fitness or healthy lifestyle goals, and pay a penalty if you fail. You will be asked to link your Paypal account to the goal, and when you don’t achieve it, you will be charged to a minimum of $5 per failure. Achieve all your weekly activities, and you will be rewarded. Pact is the best motivation to eat your 5-a-day or work out three times a week.
STRAVA for iOS and Android
SWORKIT for iOS and Android
Popular with runners and cyclists alike, Strava allows you to join mostly distance-based challenges with friends and even earn badges.You can also use the website to create custom routes, which you can share with your friends.
Simply Work It or Sworkit for short, offers a range of cardio, strength, yoga and stretching workouts for all levels of fitness and experience. Try the many free options, or get the premium version for more options.
Try the free app, or use the premium version (€60 / year or €8 / month) for personal coaching, live feedback, access to advanced analysis of your pace and heart-rate and a goal setting function. If you’re serious about your fitness, Strava is a worthwhile investment.
Sworkit’s real power lies in the ability to build custom workouts using the exercise library. You get three free custom workout slots on the free version. Set your workout length and, if you buy the subscription (€40 / year, or €5 / month) you can even set custom intervals. With the subscription, you will also get access to the web app and an ad-free platform.
SEVEN for iOS
Struggling to get motivated or to find time to exercise? Seven is just what you need to get started. It offers a series of workouts that you can complete in seven minutes. There are lower body workouts, core and total body workouts. The free app has plenty of content, but you can buy stretching, fat-burning or cardio workouts as well. Go all out with a short seven-minute workout, then recover with the dialed down activity, before you push yourself once again.
ZOMBIES, RUN! for iOS and Android
Would you run faster if you were being chased by zombies? Most of us would! And that is the logic behind this running app. Zombies, Run! casts you in the role of Runner Five. You can listen to your workout playlist while you run, and you will receive broadcasts from a nearby base, which alerts you marauding hordes of zombies and keeps you on track as you collect supplies.
How to Set
SMART Work Goals During a 2002 interview in the publication, American Psychologist, professors Gary Latham and Edwin Locke were asked to summarise their groundbreaking academic research, spanning thirty five years. They shared fascinating information regarding their research into goals. Some of their findings included: • Rather than urging people to do their best, it would be more effective to set specific and difficult goals on a consistent basis. • Higher goals generate the highest levels of effort and performance. • Strict deadlines are more effective in stimulating a more rapid work pace than ubiquitous deadlines. Based on these findings, strategic goal setting is the way to go. By setting specific and difficult goals with tight deadlines, you are bound to obtain the predictable result, which is greater levels of persistence, increased effort and higher levels of performance. Yet, many companies fail to follow Latham and Locke’s advice when it comes to goal setting. What’s worse, is that three common techniques used in modern organisations directly oppose the findings: percentage weights as indicators of relative goal importance, cascading goals and smart goals.
There’s no denying that some goals are more important than others, but using this method is not useful. It is not productive to accurately identify a goal’s relative importance using this method.
The SMART goal acronym specifies that goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. While the SMART goal system ensures that your goal system is phrased correctly, it hardly measures whether it is a good idea to chase the specific goal. Even worse, the A and R requirements actually encourage low level goals, because if one were to only set attainable goals, there would be no need to actually set them. And who determines what is realistic?
Instead of assigning percentage weights to your goals, indicate the level of importance by low, medium or high importance. Alternatively, list goals in order of importance.
CASCADING GOALS Some companies advise employees that goals should cascade down from the top of the company. While your goals should not thwart those of the organisation, the concept of cascading goals, if applied too rigidly, may actually backfire. Every individual blames the person above for slowing down the goal-setting process. One way to make this work, is to free the process from the rigid requirement of tightly linking individual goals to that of the supervisor.
Instead of using an acronym to determine the worthiness of a goal, use the SMART goal technique to determine whether your goal statements are well-formed. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a certain technique will simplify the goal setting process, but that is foolish. By avoiding the above techniques, you will actually set better goals.
MEET THE TEAM Denis Lane
Audit & Tax Compliance Partner
Denis is an experienced Accountant and an affiliated member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland. Having trained with one of the major international practices, he subsequently worked in the UK and also spent time as a Senior Accountant in industry. He has been in practice, as Founding Partner in the Firm, since 1978. He has a broad and practical knowledge of many business types and a wealth of experience in solving and providing solutions to the many financial and taxation problems associated with effective and successful Business Management. This includes Incorporated and Unincorporated entities, Partnerships, Family Businesses, covering a large variety of different businesses and professions. He is also a qualified Personal Insolvency Practitioner. In these difficult times, Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Advice are frequently needed for many businesses.
Gary is a qualified member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland. A Statutory Auditor and qualified Personal Insolvency Practitioner, he has over a decadeâ€™s experience dealing with the audit, taxation and advisory issues of a variety of business enterprises. Having trained and worked in practice during this time, he has gained a wealth of knowledge in the fields of Accounting and Taxation. As a Partner, Gary is committed to achieving excellence by ensuring that a high quality service is continually provided to our clients. Keeping up-to-date with the latest IT and business management innovations is an area in which he takes particular interest, and he is experienced in the practical implementation of the related business solutions.
Audit & Taxation Manager
Audit & Taxation Senior
Siobhan is a qualified Certified Public Accountant, having been admitted to full membership in 2005. Siobhan has been in practice throughout her working life, having gained an in depth knowledge of Business, Taxation and the many other issues facing individuals and SMEs. She works closely with our clients, to assist them with their various business needs by applying this experience in finding practical and effective solutions.
Jennifer is a member of the Association of Chartered Accountants having joined the practice in 2004 from overseas. Jennifer is a valuable member of our team with detailed and practical knowledge of the Taxation and Accounting issues facing individuals and SME owners having developed a professional relationship with the clients of the Practice.
Gerard Murphy Accountancy & Payroll Ger is a vastly experienced and qualified book-keeper, with an indepth knowledge of VAT, Intersat and Nominal Ledge processing. Ger is a member of the Institute of Accounting Technicians in Ireland and has worked in practice for 20 years. Ger also specialises in Payroll, is up to date with the issues facing employers in Ireland, and is on hand to provide practical advice to our clients.
RANGE OF SERVICES ACCOUNTING AND BOOK KEEPING
•• Financial Back Office Services •• Compilation of Financial Information
•• •• •• •• •• ••
AUDIT AND ASSURANCE •• Independent Audited Financial Statements •• Comprehensive Reports
Personal Finance Planning Retirement Planning Business Succession Advise in Minimising Tax Burdens Mediation & Negotiation Mentoring
GENERAL BUSINESS CONSULTING
•• •• •• •• •• •• ••
•• Process and Maintain Payroll Function •• Fully Trained and Experienced Staff
TAXATION AND PLANNING •• Representation of Companies & Individuals in the Negotiation Process •• Revenue Audits •• Preparation of Tax Returns
Strategic Planning Buying & Selling a Business Obtaining Finance Cashow Management Financial Budgeting Interim Financial Statements Preparing Forecasts & Projections
BUSINESS START UP & WORKING CAPITAL PLANNING •• Assist with Company Formations & Business Plans •• Preparation of Financial Projections, Cash Flows & Finance
•• Liquidation Process •• Negotiation •• Restructing of Financial Obligations
•• •• •• •• •• •• ••
•• Avoid Extensive Legal Arbitration •• Includes Financial Modelling
COMPANY SECRETARIAL •• Company Formation •• Filing of Statutory Returns •• Business Name Registration
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