Brian McEnery in the annual survey of Accountancy & Business Advisory, where the Managing Partners in Ireland’s leading corporate and SME firms disclose what services clients are prioritising, and why consolidation in the sector has increased.

1.    How was trading for your firm over the past year? What service areas are most in demand?

We are pleased with how the firm is trading over the past year with robust activity across various sectors and across all service areas; audit, tax, advisory and consulting.  The past year has seen our success complimented by the move into our new Dublin HQ at the iconic Miesian Plaza complex in Dublin, one of the greenest office spaces in the world with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum (version 4) status. Our increased growth is also aligned to our firm strategy for example, in areas such as our key technology partnerships and a continued focus on client service and quality.  

2.    As Managing Partner, what are the main operational issues you face?

A critical focus for our firm is in the area of talent retention and development which continues to be a competitive landscape.  We are continuously adapting to regulatory changes, ensuring compliance while also seizing opportunities for growth across the business. We see the importance of maintaining and enhancing our technological infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of our clients and staff. 

3.    The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive – how has had your firm has to prepare for facilitating this new corporate reporting? Is the firm up to speed, and are your large clients?

We are continually adapting our strategy to incorporate sustainability into our business – and at the same time, work with our clients to help them navigate their own sustainability journey. As a firm, we have committed to all Partners having specialist sustainability training relevant to their area in 2024. This will involve training in accounting for sustainability, sustainable finance, ESG due diligence etc. We aim to meet the sustainability expectations of all our stakeholders – our clients, our people, our investors and our regulators - to protect our environment, our business and the interests of generations to come. We view sustainability through the universally recognised ESG framework, to help unpack the wide-ranging risks and metrics that fall under the term ‘sustainability’. Everything we do at BDO is viewed through a sustainability lens to ensure that we implement and embed the principles of sustainability across all BDO firms as a global initiative and a business imperative. 

4.    The accountants of tomorrow – will IT skills be more important than understanding ledgers?

At BDO, we recognise the increasing importance of technology in driving efficiency and innovation within the accounting profession. However, we also emphasise the importance of maintaining a strong foundation in traditional accounting practices, as these principles remain fundamental to sound financial management and decision-making.  As a example the audit profession also needs to continuously evolve. BDO has invested heavily in ongoing training of partners on ISQM 1, a new audit quality management standard, to ensure quality control and risk assessment on all client assignments.

5.    Ireland’s economy slowed in 2023 and ticking over is the official outlook for 2024. What’s your feeling of business confidence or otherwise among clients?

Despite Ireland's economic slowdown in 2023 and the 'ticking over' outlook for 2024, there remains a sense of cautious optimism among our clients. While businesses are facing challenges, they are also focused on identifying opportunities for growth and investment. Our clients are actively seeking guidance on navigating the current economic landscape, with a particular emphasis on optimising operations, managing risk, and capitalising on emerging trends. As trusted advisors, we are committed to supporting our clients in achieving their goals and navigating uncertainties with confidence.