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Delegation - key to a sane life
Darina Barrett, assurance partner at KPMG, spends a busy day dealing with career reviews, client meetings and organising her marketing trip to New York, but still makes time for daughter Leah.
7.00 am My husband James leaves for work as I get up. We alternate between early mornings and early evenings to mind our daughter of 21 months. Breakfast is a cup of tea for me and a bottle of milk for Leah. Rest assured she will get fed later. I play with Leah until Caroline her minder arrives at 8.00 am. On the way to work I check my voicemails and return whatever calls I can. Traffic is light this morning and I am in the IFSC and my office before 8.30 am.

8.30 am I start the day by changing my greeting on the voicemail and checking my emails. As usual I have exceeded my limit and need to delete emails. I connect my palm pilot to see if the night's deletion of mails will help. It does a little. I scan my diary for details of meetings. Despite all the technology I take out pen and paper and write a quick list of what I must do today, the list is long and my mind races with all I have to do.

9.00 am I meet with two of my audit partners. We update each other on developments in the funds practice and progress made since last month's meeting. The usual discussion items includes new clients, workloads, efficiencies, resources and staff development. I then meet briefly with each of my managers and agree timetables for completion and review of current work.

10.30 am This is the time of the year for staff reviews and I have three scheduled for this morning. In total by the end of October I need to complete reviews for three members of the management group and their combined staff of twenty. Each review takes about 30 minutes. I find the reviews useful and try where practicable to implement suggestions. Suggestions as always are varied, particularly in respect of the need for more entertainment, but more often are predictably about more money and less hours. During staff reviews I put my phone on divert and close my office door to avoid interruptions.

12.30 pm Once the reviews are finished I meet for 30 minutes with one of my tax colleagues to finalise a review of a package for submission to the Central Bank of Ireland for a client requiring authorisation under the Investment Intermediaries Act.

1.00 pm I go out to lunch typically two to three times a week and met either clients or friends. I have no arrangements today. I don't have the patience for queuing at lunch time for a sandwich so I delay lunch and take the time to check and deal with the morning's voicemails, emails and post. Delegation in a professional practice is the key to a sane life. If there is substantial time involved in dealing with a matter I delegate the task to one of my managers.

2.30 pm I attend a client meeting to finalise a report on their procedures for the valuation of unquoted securities. Additional discussions also take place on new business, staff changes and forthcoming work. Since KPMG moved to the IFSC I spend very little time travelling across the city, most of my clients are located in the centre and meetings are more often than not held in our offices.

3.30 pm The phone rings continually during the day, I try as a matter of course to answer all outside calls and depending on how busy the day is internal calls. Dealing with the calls as they come in saves me time, however it does lead to very little progress with other work during the day. Calls are generally short, asking questions, requesting additional work or looking for resources. Most questions resolve around accounting treatments for products and advice on regulatory matters and are easily dealt with on the spot. Conference calls or meetings are arranged if matters are more complicated. I tend to deal with emails on a batch basis. My biggest issue is I hoard. In between meetings I deal with correspondence whether by email or post.

5.00 pm A client just back from holidays rings and wants their accounts finished for Friday. The files and accounts are already sitting in my office awaiting final review. I complete the review and arrange for the accounts to be sent for signature.

Next week I am scheduled to go to New York on a marketing trip, the purpose of which is to encourage investment managers in the US to set up Dublin funds and promote KPMG in Ireland. I do not do a great deal of travel. On average I expect to be out of the country for no more than twenty days in the year, of which about half is client related and the other half marketing.

I make some final calls to my fellow partners in KPMG New York to ensure all meetings are set up and arrangements are finalised and to brief them on what I will be presenting on. I spend the rest of the evening sifting through conference notes and articles on the investment funds industry in an effort to bring myself up to date on industry issues for my forthcoming presentations. Before my education begins though I visit the tea station and the sweet machine.

8.30 pm My list which I started this morning is half done and the scraps of papers from the day need to be collected. I tidy my desk, line up the unfinished files and go home.

On the way home I check my voicemails and clear down what I can. I stop to collect some take out food for myself and James. Leah is still up when I get home.
Tomorrow will be stressful as I will start earlier and must be home for 6.30pm.

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