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Launch of the Chartered Accountants Ireland Salary Survey 2016

Today The Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society in association with The Panel, published their annual Salary Survey 2016.

To download your free copy please click on our resource section to the right on the screen.

You can also access the salary survey by visiting Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society page HERE.

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News

Join The Panel Fantasy Football League for 2016/2017

The Panel Fantasy Football competition for 2016/2017 is open for business! It’s a fun competition for those of you interested in Premiership football with monthly prizes and one Manager will be crowned The Panel Fantasy Football Manager of the Year.

If you are looking to join The Panel league for the first time, please follow instructions below.

To enter, please follow these simple steps:

Go to https://fantasy.premierleague.com/ and set up your team.

> Click on The Leagues tab
> Click on Join a League
> Choose the Private League option
> Type this number 49455-17728 into the free text box and click Join Private League.

Guideline for previous managers  who have played in our league:

> Login at https://fantasy.premierleague.com/

> If you have an existing account enter your email and password.

> You will then be asked to update your personal details, favourites & email preferences.

> Once you have completed this you will be brought to your account page.

> Click on Fantasy Premier League.

> You will then be asked to pick your team and enter your squad.

If you have previously entered a team into our league (www.thepanel.com) you will automatically join our league. You can see confirmation of this on the right hand side of the screen under Classic Leagues.

To qualify for the prizes you must email your team name in the subject line to [email protected]. If your team name isn’t on our records you will not be eligible for prizes.

Prizes: 

Monthly prize of €100 All4One voucher for the monthly winner.

Overall winners: First prize – €500, second place – €250, third place €100. 

Some important information:

  1. We will remove teams from the league who haven’t confirmed their registration to [email protected].
  2. If more than one person is eligible for a prize, the prize will be shared pro rata.
  3. Feel free to pass on this mail to anyone who may have an interest in joining, just ensure they email us their team name to qualify for prizes.
  4. The league starts on Saturday, August 13th.
  5. We will accept entries until Wednesday August 31st at 9am.
  6. The monthly and overall winners will be dependent entirely on the https://fantasy.premierleague.com/ drop down menus. No correspondence will be entered into.
  7. Teams with offensive names will be removed.
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Blog

GUEST BLOG: Making the most of your personal retirement bond

Many individuals have pension benefits in a personal retirement bond (PRB) without necessarily understanding what they have and what steps they should follow to make the most of these benefits before retirement hits them – often too late to do anything!

Sources – DB + DC

A PRB is an individual pension contract designed to invest pension benefits which have been accrued in an Occupational Pension Scheme of an employment which the individual has left. For members of a defined contribution (DC) scheme who decide to transfer their benefits to a PRB the options available at retirement are the same under both the scheme and the PRB. Up until recently, the vast majority of PRBs originated from such schemes.

The situation is somewhat different for defined benefit (DB) schemes, however. When members left these schemes their benefit was guaranteed and so they typically left the benefit they had accrued “deferred” in the scheme until retirement.

However, many DB schemes have become unsustainable in recent years and trustees have often made the decision to wind-up schemes and transfer the assets of current members to defined contribution arrangements. For those holding a deferred benefit in a DB scheme this typically meant the benefit transferring to a PRB.

A PRB for a member transferring from a DB scheme is a major change as the guaranteed fixed benefit at retirement is gone and the member must take on the responsibility for the investment risk. Choosing an appropriate strategy for investment can significantly affect the outcome at retirement.

Differences – DB + DC

There is one other major difference between a PRB coming from a DB scheme than one from a DC scheme which is often lost on individuals in this situation.

* At retirement, after providing for a lump sum based on the rules of the transferring scheme, the remaining balance of a PRB which originated from a DB scheme must be used to purchase an annuity.

* However, members of DC schemes are in a very different position and can opt to invest in an approved retirement fund (ARF) or purchase an annuity. They also have the option of taking a tax free lump sum worth up to 25% of their fund subject to Revenue limits.

Currently, the majority of defined contribution scheme members are choosing the ARF option. This is mainly due to the fact that the cost of annuities have risen substantially as a result of longer life expectancy and historically low bond yields.

Unfortunately, when an annuity is purchased for the rest of an individual’s life it is based on the rate available on the day of purchase – regardless of the fact that rates may increase over time if interest rates rise. An ARF, on the other hand, delivers a return based on market performance as time goes on rather than at a single date.

To most this, perhaps unintended consequence, would appear to be very unfair. Most DB wind-ups result in members receiving a value which is less than the full cost of providing the benefits intended by the scheme, and now members are being penalised again for not having the same options as a DC member would have despite the fact that both are carrying the investment risk.

Providing Options

There are steps which can sometimes be taken to ensure that this does not happen. Generally speaking, a member of a DC scheme in their current employment can transfer a PRB into that scheme and avail of their ARF entitlement on retirement. If they are not a member of a DC scheme they may be in a position to set one up provided the scheme meets the requirements of the Revenue to allow it to be an approved scheme.

These and other requirements make it absolutely essential to take professional advice before making any decisions.

About John

John has over 25 years’ experience in the Irish pension industry having previously worked with Coyle Hamilton Willis and Irish Life. John is an Associate of both the Irish Institute of Pensions Managers and the Pensions Management Institute. John was previously a Director of Traders Financial Services (Cork) Limited, which was acquired by Invesco in October 2009.

t: +353 (0)21 480 8041 | e: [email protected] | w: www.invesco.ie |

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Blog

GUEST BLOG: What employers need to know about the probationary period

The vast majority of Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment or more commonly known as an Employment Contract would include a probation clause for new employees. The whole purpose of the probation period is to give employers the opportunity to review an employee’s performance and suitability prior to considering their formal appointment to staff of the Company.

Normally the probation period is for six months with an option to extend to nine months, in certain circumstances. A probation period for a year or more would be unusual and the reason for this is that the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 (as amended) would apply to an employee who is dismissed after completion of a years’ service. If the duration of the probationary period is less than one year, then the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 (am amended) would not apply.
 
Any insertion of a probation clause in the Statement of Terms and Condition of Employment should also include the following details:

  • The right to extend the probation period and any circumstances in relation to extension arrangements
  • The requirement for regular reviews during the probationary period conducted by the employer
  • The importance of giving constructive feedback to the employee to enable them focus on addressing any performance shortcomings (should they occur)
  • The right to dismissal for gross misconduct 

It is also common for employers to state that their full disciplinary process will not apply to employees who are on probation. Having said that, employers must ensure that employees who are dismissed whilst on probation are a) given adequate notice of their dismissal (if applicable) and b) that fair procedures and the principles of natural justice are followed in general terms. This would normally involve a) communicating with the employee that their performance is not satisfactory, b) giving the employee a chance to improve and c) making sure the employee is fully trained for the role.

Some employers think that they can easily dismiss an employee once they are still within the probationary period. This is not the case. It should be noted that employees on probation are entitled to natural justice and fair procedures.

While the employee may not have the necessary service (12 months’ service) to avail of the protection of the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007, a claim can be made under the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 (as amended) for unfair dismissal. There is no service qualification under this act.

While the awards made against employers who dismiss employees without fair procedures during employees’ probationary periods are often lower than those awarded to employees with over 12 months’ service, such awards can often amount to reasonably substantial figures.

Far too often companies insert a probation clause in their employment contracts and then generally forget about it. They simply chose not to attach sufficient importance to this assessment process and then when something goes wrong it is often too late.

Employers today should have a fair, reasonable and clear probationary clause in their employment contracts. The importance of documented and well managed reviews and termination processes are key, so that it is unlikely that an employer’s decision in a probationary matter can be undermined for reasons of lack of compliance with natural justice and fair procedures.

Finally, employers should always confirm in writing to employees the successful completion of their probation period. Unfortunately, this important element is frequently overlooked in some companies.

About Niall Glynn

Niall Glynn & Associates Limited was established in 2010 to provide Business Solutions and HR Advice to companies and Senior Executives. 

Our approach is to work closely with Senior Executives in a confidential way and coach them to both prepare and overcome any barriers in terms of achieving their future career goals / ambitions.  

We also help SMEs improve their business performance by successfully implementing tailored Core HR Processes and Business Performance Improvement Models. 

t: +353 (0)1 276 6598 | e: [email protected] | www.niallglynn.com |

 

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Blog

GUEST BLOG: Networking tips for listening and asking the right questions

Like any skill, the topic of this blog is one that will need to be practiced. What sometimes happens at networking events is the attendees all arrive with one goal in mind – to tell as many people about their product or service. They may think this is “spreading the word” but in fact, what you may be doing to spreading the word of how poor a listener you are. The aim should be to create good PR about you or another way of saying this is WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing).

The famous saying is 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them in that ratio. Breaking that saying down, we mean that ideally you should listen twice as much as you speak. Now, as we delve deeper into this you may be sitting there thinking “but what if both parties do the same, nobody will be talking?” Don’t worry, I’ve been networking professionally for nearly 10 years and it hasn’t happened to me yet.

The art of listening is a simple but sometimes overlooked one. Listening correctly to the person shows that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying. It allows you to pose the next question, which is in relation to what they have just talked about. Most people are thinking about what they want to say and not actually listening to the other person. Even worse, the person you are talking to is obviously looking around the room and even sometimes over your shoulder, for their next target as they have already written you off and someone not good enough to spend their time on.

Showing that you are actually interested, is the first step in this new professional relationship. This is going to take time and a number of meetings. Like I have mentioned in my other blogs, networking is a relationship building activity, not an instant sales activity. Remember the farming mentality and not the hunter mentality.

I’m a great believer in letting the person I am in conversation with talk themselves out, this has proven difficult at some events as some people do like to talk. When they finally realise that it’s been all about them, they become very conscious that they need to ask you about you. This is now your turn to educate them as to who you are, what you do and who you may be looking for.  What I usually find at this stage is NOW they are actually listening to you! PS, this may not always be the case, there are some very selfish people out there but better you find out now.

Once you have mastered listening, and as I mentioned above, this will take time and practice, the next area is what questions you ask. As you were listening properly, the questions you ask will be in relation to what they have previously said. The trick here is ask open and not closed question to be conducive to a free flowing conversation. Questions like Who, What, Where, When and Why are a few. Rather than asking “Do you sell insurance?” rephrase the question to any of the above. For example “Who do you sell insurance to?” or one of my favourite type of open question is “What made you go into the insurance industry?” This will tell you more about the person and again, the relationship and your gaining of knowledge about the person will increase.

Some other good questions are;

  • What are you working on at the moment?
  • What type of contact is good for you? Why?
  • What’s your biggest challenge at the moment?
  • How can I help you?

If you operate a CRM (Client Relationship Management) system, you can take the above information and add it to their profile for when you meet with them again or anytime in your professional relationship. Knowledge is power. Let us know your thoughts on the above, we would love to hear your views.

In the next issue I will be talking about not trying to close the deal.

About Derek Reilly

Derek Reilly is a recognised expert in the areas of face to face and online networking. He previously worked with BNI (Business Network International) for nearly 10 years and has trained thousands of businesses on the power of networking. Derek is a regular guest speaker at conferences and company in-house trainings. He is proud to have spoken and trained on 3 continents (Europe, America and Asia). His progression within his own networks is testament to his knowledge of networking.

t: +353 (0)86 683 9709  | e: [email protected] | www.derekreilly.com | LinkedIn |

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Blog

GUEST BLOG: 6 Ways To Build Your Brand

Creating a unique brand and communicating it to the market is one of the most powerful business development strategies available to a firm. Your brand helps you to communicate your unique business offering to customers. Your brand should play a key role in recruiting and retaining the best talent. 

What are the steps you need to take to build a brand?

1. Brand Identity: 
In an earlier blogpost on this site I tackled the question Why Does Brand Identity Matter? You can find out more here.

Developing a powerful Brand Identity is a critical source of sustainable competitive advantage; an asset that can help you to win new customers and recruit the most talented people.

2. Invest in Digital:
Where is the first place you go when you’re looking for something? I expect that more than 80% of the time your default choice is a web search. You’ll either search for a URL you already know or you’ll Google it. So, some of the best places to build your brand are your online channels. There is a very long list of things that you can do. I’d recommend that you start with this checklist:

  • Website: Does your site help prospective customers or employees to easily understand what you do or to get the help they need? Does it work on a mobile? Does it reflect your brand identity?
  • Content: Do you regularly update your content? This could take the form of links to 3rd party media coverage, blogposts by your team, short form video, business updates, reports or whitepapers.
  • Search: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) helps to optimise your website to rank high in organic / unpaid search on the main search engines. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is using paid advertising platforms; the best known is Google AdWords. Each Search Engine offers a self-service platform that is relatively easy to use. If you can earn significant direct revenue online, then I’d recommend that you hire an expert to help you with both SEO & SEM.
  • Social: Pick one or two platforms that suit your business and your target market – your Brand Identity review will help you to focus on the right choices. Twitter and LinkedIn are good options in Ireland. Appoint one or two staff to maintain your presence. Start with sharing links to content on your own website. Follow and engage with key influencers. Deploy a simple tool like Hootsuite to manage engagement (there’s a free version).
  • Email: Do you keep in touch with your key customers by email? There are simple cloud based email products such as Mailchimp that you can deploy to help you present your business in a professional manner and drive online engagement. Mailchimp is free to use if you have a smaller customer base or send small quantities of email.
  • CRM: Do you have a central database where you store information about your clients, prospects and leads? Deploy a cloud based product such as salesforce.com or zoho.com. Zoho offer a free version for smaller businesses to get you started.
  • Measure: Create targets for online success and measure them each month.

These are the basic fundamental building blocks. In future posts, I’ll address more advanced online marketing strategies. But start with these 7. Get them right and you’ll see the benefits quickly.

3. Tell your story:
We’re hard wired to love stories. Research shows that we find it easier to remember information that is presented in a story format. Does your business have an origin story? Do you have great case studies where you helped your customers? Have you got staff that started at the bottom and worked their way to the top? Every good story has key components – a hero, a difficult challenge, a journey, a resolution and a happy ending! So, find your stories and tell them. 

4. Industry Awards:
Are you aligned with industry associations or business networks? Almost every industry runs an Industry Awards programme. It’s a great way to highlight your status as a key player in your industry. There’s nothing like a good night out at an Awards dinner to build motivation across your team and to network with your clients. 

5. Social Purpose:
The new name for CSR is Social Purpose. Millennial’s have driven a whole new dynamic in recent years. They want their employers to play a positive role in improving society. They expect employers to balance their Profit Motive with their Social Purpose. Does your firm have a Social Purpose? How could you engage your staff & customers in developing your Social Purpose?

6. Brand Management:
Your brand needs to be managed and developed. Appoint a key member of staff and ensure they have a budget, clear targets and support in the boardroom.

Summary
Every business can develop a powerful brand. Your brand is doing its job if it is telling the world why it should do business with you. And it is really working when it encourages the best talent to join your business and stay with you.

About David O’Leary

David O’Leary, Partner, BMI Lab, has been helping businesses develop unique value propositions to grow revenue for over 20 years. BMI Lab is a consultancy that helps businesses unlock powerful new growth through innovation and digital strategy. We use leading edge tools such as Design Thinking, Business Model Innovation and Hidden Needs Analysis, to cost-effectively create and deliver new value for your customers while establishing innovative business models that capture sustainable value for your company. 

David has worked with many successful brands & companies over the years including; EY, Bank of Ireland, Aon, United Nations, RTÉ, Bulmers & Jameson. 

David’s focus has always been to deliver sustainable growth grounded in innovative thinking. He believes that he understands the ups and downs of both large organisations and start-ups based on his own experiences as Founder & CEO with companies such as Ripple Platform – an EI HPSU Technology Start-up – and 8020 – a leading digital marketing agency.

t: +353 (0)87 203 8148  | e: [email protected]om | www.bmilab.com |

 

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Blog

GUEST BLOG: Compulsory Retirement – What Employers Need to Consider

The case law of the European Court of Justice has consistently stated that mandatory retirement ages must be objectively justified.  There had been some political pressure to abolish mandatory retirement ages in Ireland altogether. Since 1 January 2016, the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 have been amended to the effect that an employer may set a mandatory retirement age but it must be objectively justified. 

But what is objective justification? What must an employer show to avoid a finding of unfair age discrimination?

In a recent case, a Luas tram driver wanted to continue working (at least he did in 2014 when this case was instigated) past the contractual mandatory retirement age of 65.  The tram driver had an exemplary employment record.

Transdev explained that it had imposed a mandatory retirement age of 65 for two principal reasons:-

(i) expert medical opinion from Transdev’s occupational health adviser stated that tram drivers aged between 60 and 65 are more than 5 times as likely to be absent (due to illness or injury) than drivers aged under 50; and

(ii) a retirement age of 65 facilitates good workforce planning and equitable distribution of employment opportunities between generations.

Transdev also noted that the company pension scheme also provided for normal retirement at 65.

The Adjudication Officer found that the health and safety reason, at (i) above, was by itself enough to satisfy the test for objective justification.  He also noted that no expert medical evidence was given on behalf of the tram driver.

This case is interesting because there does not seem to have been any suggestion by the Adjudication Officer that there should have been individual medical testing.  Instead, a general rule as to mandatory retirement age can be imposed based on what appears to have been the personal opinion of the employer’s own occupational health adviser.

About James

James Scanlon is Head of Employment Law at Maples and Calder’s Dublin office and was assisted by Sinéad Egan, Associate. Should you have any queries on this or any employment matter please contact James or your usual Maples contact.

t: +353 (0)1 619 2061 | e: [email protected] | w: www.maplesandcalder.com |