In your first year as Managing Partner with Mazars, are there any aspects of the role that have surprised you?
The biggest – and very positive – surprise has been the amount of goodwill both towards me personally and towards the firm that I have encountered. The Mazars brand seems to be extremely well regarded by many in our business community and that is something which we strive to protect and develop every day.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m fortunate to have a very strong and experienced Executive Team working with me who share the same vision to support our clients to develop better and sustainable businesses. My leadership style is collaborative, supportive and I always try to include team members in the decision-making process. I think this approach encourages creativity, engagement and as a result, team members tend to have high job satisfaction and high productivity.
Being part of an integrated and independent organisation brings strong discipline and transparency and we benefit immensely from being part of a diverse, innovative, growth oriented and ambitious international group.
Who or what are your main influences?
Lots of people, in different ways. At a personal level, my wife Eilín, my sons, my parents and brothers and sisters are hugely influential in how I approach life. From a business perspective I admire John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, enormously – particularly his book ‘Enough’, which is a very reasoned view on the importance of society and how it interacts with the economy. I also admire Keynes and his writings are the foundations of what little economics I understand. I think it’s important to read widely in a more general way, and lots of writers influence my way of thinking in lots of ways. I come back to Norman MacCaig and Samuel Beckett again and again – both strike a chord for me.
What, in your opinion, are the key challenges facing the audit profession today?
The audit market is changing and the implementation of the new European Audit Regulation and Directive in 2016 is one of the biggest challenges ever to face the profession. S.I.312 has given life to a balanced reform that promotes transparency and market efficiency. I believe that the new rules will contribute to reinforcing investor confidence in financial statements published by European Companies. Mazars welcomes the key provisions of this reform which will be beneficial to investors, companies and auditing firms in Europe.
The other significant drivers of change are technology and regulation. I think that the changes in both will leave our profession in a very different place in ten years’ time, and the changes and decisions firms make now will have a long lasting impact.
What impact has the EU legislation to reform the statutory audit market had on your business?
The legislation is very new, but already we are seeing an increase in the volume of requests for work, both in audit and in other areas. The key change I think will be that a small number of firms will invest enough to become important players in the PIE Market. Mazars is active in that space and wants to be a leader in the market.
Audit and Assurance are the most exciting business areas at the moment. Regulatory changes will be good for competition and provide better solutions for clients and better protection of the public interest. In a number of countries there has been recognition that joint audit is a good thing and I would certainly favour a lengthening of the rotation period if it were twinned with a joint audit approach. That has not been adopted for now in Ireland, but I hope that evidence from other countries may lead to a rethink in the future.
What are Mazars’ business priorities for 2016?
We’ve experienced an increase in demand for our services across all areas of our business and expect this trend to continue in 2016. As client service is our key differentiator, the biggest challenge and priority for us will be to maintain our high level of client service. By offering excellent client service and providing real insight to our clients on their business challenges, Mazars is committed to contributing to our clients’ development and growth. We will also continue to invest in new service offerings in audit, tax, consulting, corporate finance and actuarial.
Attracting and retaining high quality staff will continue to be another challenge and priority for Mazars and the rest of the accounting profession, and we are working to ensure we remain an attractive home for intelligent and highly motivated graduates and qualified staff.