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Our CEO Sarah Daly talks about reaching goals, hiring the right people, and the benefits of technology in the Q&A for Business & Finance is Ireland’s leading business magazine.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My main priority is to ensure that my clients reach their goals, with the first step of having an effective, functioning finance department in place.  To achieve this, I need to understand where my clients want to take their businesses so that we can put the bespoke financial systems in place for them.

Every client’s business is different and has different challenges.  In small businesses, for example, often personal issues can interfere with growth potential.  I help these businesses to navigate their way through these challenges.

I work with a select number of clients in businesses of all sizes, each year where we brainstorm and set up strategies to create new streams of income to help them reach higher targets. I listen to out-of-the-box ideas and encourage when needed. My clients always know I am open to what might seem like the craziest of ideas and then we build on it to make it right for their business and help their vision to become a reality.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

As with any business, hiring the right talent and getting a team together that gels well and works well has been a huge challenge.  Time management is another challenge I face.  I have learnt to recognise that I cannot split myself into 40 pieces.  My clients are based around Ireland and overseas.  I find it works more efficiently for everybody to use online technology such as Zoom or Skype, for example, for meetings and phone calls.   A lot of our business is done using this technology. We use WhatsApp frequently for speed and efficiency. Technology has been a real game-changer for our business.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

I am a huge believer in empowering people so they are motivated to develop themselves.  If there’s one thing I have learnt it’s that people are motivated by very different things.  I think everyone thrives on responsibility, so my aim is always to make my team responsible and accountable for their work as soon as they are sufficiently trained.  I also believe in up-skilling and team-building.  A happy team will stay with you and will ultimately mean a happy customer.

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

Technology is a huge asset to our company, but it’s also a challenge.  I work with companies in the technology and medical devices sector, for example.  In these sectors, new technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality are becoming seriously hot topics.  I really need to understand these developments as they affect how I forecast, report and manage my clients’ accounts.

Trust is another challenge common in this profession.  I work with senior management teams and it’s vital that they take me into their confidence and we communicate regularly so I can help them to make informed decisions for their business.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

Automation of the industry is definitely an area to watch.  Technology can provide access to anyone to start a business from scratch now, which is excellent.  What might have taken weeks or months previously can now be done in a couple of hours using the correct technology.  For example, it is now possible to set up a website and link it with a payment platform to allow customers to tap and purchase your product with instant payment.

Business to Consumer businesses are great examples as they can avail of platforms such as Amazon and Shopify to help them to get started quickly and reach their markets. These platforms can link into ecommerce networks such as Paypal and Stripe to collect payments immediately and link with accountancy platforms.  On the backend, you now have systems like AutoEntry to help you electronically manage your accounts.

With all this automation comes the collection of significant data and I would caution all my clients to be aware of the regulations around data protection.  In addition, having the ability to effectively leverage customer behaviour data and analytics can be hugely beneficial in driving customer acquisition, retention and growth.

Although automation is a positive development, I would still encourage business owners to exercise caution and to retain control and ensure accounts are properly managed.  You still need to know what is going on with your finances – do not be complacent!   Revenue will not accept ignorance so get tax advice and make sure your financial affairs are in order:  You will save on Revenue fines and penalties and less trouble in the long run.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

There is a huge gap in the market currently for experienced accountants who understand businesses from a business owner’s perspective.  Accountants who can see beyond figures, and assist a client in realising his or hers company’s vision, are very rare.

You can read the full interview HERE.

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– Sarah 

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