I’ve always been an early riser – and since our two children were born, even more so. I tend to be up first in the house and enjoy the first hour as a way to ease into the day, checking the overnight news on my iPad over a coffee. I follow the FT, Guardian and, of course, the local dailies online and find their coverage and the live news feeds from RTE and Newstalk a really good way of staying on top of business and international news. Other than that, it’s all hands on deck helping with breakfast and getting the two boys out to school. My wife Eilín also has a very demanding job and we take it in turns in keeping the morning routine – although she certainly does the lion’s share!
Unless I am attending an early meeting I try to be in the office by 8.30. We are busy pretty much all year round and are progressively growing the firm so many of the team start early, dealing with internal work and preparation for meetings, to leave as much time as possible during standard business hours to visit clients. I spend a few minutes catching up with Paula, my PA, who keeps me on track with my schedule for the day.
I attend an interview for a new actuary, joining Dermot O’Hara who heads up our Actuarial team. Dermot joined Mazars last year and has really added to what we can offer to clients in the insurance sector. Dermot works closely with our large actuarial team in London on assignments and on developing new services. It had been an ambition of mine for a number of years to add actuarial skills to the audit, accounting and consulting teams working for insurers in Ireland, and we’re really pleased at how Dermot is developing our position in the market.
Next up is an SME sector business development meeting. Led by Lorcan Colclough, the team has developed a really innovative approach to advising SME clients, who are often underserved in the market. Using Mazars analysis tools and methodologies, and drawing on our comprehensive international benchmark database we have the capacity to provide a service which is more usually enjoyed only by larger corporates. Lorcan and the team are preparing to launch the service in Ireland and our meeting today includes a number of colleagues from our European and U.S. teams who are also rolling out the initiative. Mazars business is built on our ability to serve clients as a single team wherever in the world they choose to do business and the SME initiative really shows this in action, drawing on the best people we have to deliver consistently excellent professional services worldwide – and providing our domestic clients with insights into best in class performance in their sector.
A call with one of our audit clients in preparation for an upcoming audit committee meeting. I am the signing audit partner on a number of our financial services sector clients, and this time of year is always exceptionally busy. Changes in regulation, market conditions and discussion of accounting treatments have all made the 2016 year end engaging. I really enjoy the chance to work on issues that clients face in their business and get great satisfaction from my work with Boards and management teams.
Time for a regular lunch meeting with our Directors of HR, Finance, Marketing and IT. We’re in the middle of a 3 year investment programme that will see the firm become more digital and technology focused both internally and in how we deliver our services. We spend some time reviewing a couple of projects one of which is designed to bring internal efficiencies and the other which is focused on enhancing client interaction in our audit area.
The rest of the meeting is given over to our property review. We are currently considering our property needs in Ireland and plotting our planned growth against capacity in our offices in Dublin and Galway. We’ve grown our work force by 50 people in the last 12 months and like many firms in our sector, our workforce is young and their expectations and needs are very different from older colleagues. Modernising our office space and facilitating more mobile and different working styles is a continuous discussion. We are looking at all options at present to make sure we have the right locations for the development of the business over the next decade.
A meeting with Tommy Doherty, Head of Audit and Michael Tuohy of our Banking Sector team before visiting a potential client. The transposition of the Auditing Directive into Irish law in June 2016 has seen a number of public interest entities change auditor or begin the process of changing auditor. For Mazars, this is a very significant opportunity and our audit partner team has been very busy meeting with potential clients. Audit is a key part of our business serving both the public interest and SME markets and we are seeing strong growth in this business arising from the legislative changes. .
The change in Audit legislation has also opened up quite a number of opportunities for us in non-audit work, as companies can no longer use their auditor to carry out other work, and Taxation and Consulting teams have been making the most of the opportunity. The quality of our brand, plus the profile of many of our partners in the market has shown in the last year with very strong growth in both areas.
A conference call with some of the international team. Mazars launched its Strategy 2020 last year and a number of the Irish partners were instrumental in the development of our group approach to client service, new technology and sector development. I am working with a team to see where we can improve our service to clients operating in multiple jurisdictions. Meeting and working with our international partners has always been one of the aspects of the job that I really enjoy and I always find it gives me a bit of an energy boost. Plenty to do, but vast potential which is really exciting.
A quick chat on the phone with Tom O’Brien, who heads up our Financial Advisory Team. Tom looks after a very successful insolvency practice as well as leading the development of our Corporate Finance team with John Bowe. Again, a relatively new team which has made steady progress over the past twelve months working on a couple of very significant transactions and we’re optimistic about the prospects in the market. Business sentiment has strengthened progressively and we are positioning to help clients with funding challenges and expansion via transactions.
I join the Institute of Directors Economic Update 2017 in the Westbury Hotel. Mazars is sponsoring the IOD Morning/Evening Briefing series in 2017 and as always their events are both informative and a good opportunity to network. This evening’s presentation from Loretta O’Sullivan, economist with Bank of Ireland is excellent and stimulates a lot of conversation in the room. I spend a few minutes catching up with a Board member of one of our clients, before returning to Harcourt Street to catch up on emails and finish some client work before calling it a day.
Leave the office and hurry to meet Eilín for a quick bite to eat in town before joining friends for a concert. We’re both music fans and Dublin is a great place to live from that perspective – whatever your preferred genre there are excellent venues, and acts both from Ireland and abroad playing regularly. Recently the Royal Irish Academy of Music have been running some really excellent shows – well worth attending even if, like me, you're not really an opera expert. Tonight it’s Whelan’s, a little more low brow, but a good end to the day.
About Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy is the managing partner of Mazars in Ireland. He is also the leader of the Financial Services team working with a number of the firm’s largest banking and insurance clients. He joined Mazars in 1995 and became a partner in 2004. He also has extensive experience of working with clients in other sectors earlier in his career. He is a member of the global Mazars leadership team, with responsibility for working with cross-border business development teams in Europe. He is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.
This article first appeared in Finance Dublin, March 2017.