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How FGS got to the top of finance’s efficiency table Back  
In FINANCE's Annual Accountancy Survey 2004, which was published in last month's issue, Farrell Grant Sparks (FGS) emerged as the most efficient accountancy firm, generating more income more staff member than any other firm in the survey. Pearse Farrell talks to Fiona Reddan about the FGS success story.
TThis year, for the first time, the annual FINANCE Accountancy Survey calculated the most efficient accountancy firm in Ireland. With each of its 99 staff members generating income of €127,273, Farrell Grant Sparks (FGS) emerged as the most efficient firm. The firm was also one of the top performers over the year, with annual fee income growth of almost 18 per cent, up to €12.6 million, from €10.7 million in 2003.

So what is the secret of FGS’ success?
Pearse Farrell, FGS joint managing partner says that the firm’s high level efficiencies can be attributed to the fact that the firm provides ‘high end’ advice to its client base primarily from experienced senior staff members, and he adds that, ‘The staff profile within the organisation is untypical of medium size practices in that there is a higher level of directors and managers focused on providing value added services’.

The underlying ethos of the Farrell Grant Sparks (FGS) product offering is manifested by delivering added value through experience, expertise and innovation, says Farrell, and the firm’s main services are consulting, audit, corporate compliance, corporate finance, taxation, corporate restructuring and property, the latter comprising the first all Ireland firm to put together a multi-disciplinary team of property and financial professionals providing advice on all aspects of property, including Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

The FGS client base has an entrepreneurial character and includes large manufacturing and service companies, financial institutions, owner managers and their companies. Dermot Desmond’s NCB was one of FGS’ first clients. ‘FGS believe that inclusive working relationships with clients who have access to the firm’s partners who are committed to anticipating, rather than merely responding to client needs, has served the practice well for in excess of 20 years,’ says Farrell.

The various disciplines within the practice have been to the forefront of Irish business life over the years. The property unit based in Belfast, headed up by Eric Munro, has been involved in the regeneration project of Fatima Mansions in Dublin’s inner city, the bundled schools PPP project for the Department of Education and Science and the National Maritime College for Bovis Lendlease.

The firm’s corporate finance unit has significant recent merger and acquisition (M&A) activity with the sale of FM 104 to Scottish Radio Holdings and the sale of the Gardiner Group last year with Jim Mulqueen, M & A Partner taking the lead role.

The FGS Taxation unit continues to provide added value innovative advice to its client base, which includes many high net worth individuals and corporates. The corporate restructuring division, where Pearse Farrell himself heads up an experienced team, has enjoyed significant growth over the past number of years and has been involved in a number of recent high profile corporate failures including the Comer group of companies and Eurofood IFSC (the Irish subsidiary of the Parmalat group).

Continued development
Going forward, Farrell says that FGS will continue to develop the advisory side of its business and endeavours, to ensure that its people are positioned to continue to provide timely assessment and execution of client needs, adding that, ‘The ongoing instilling of confidence and trust in the FGS client base by the professional culture which pervades the firm is something that the FGS partners are adamant must happen to ensure the ongoing success of the practice’.

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