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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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A Day in the Life: Kieran Kelly head of audit practice at Ernst & Young Back  
As head of Ernst & Young’s Audit practice, Kieran Kelly is frequently on the road, catching up with clients and colleagues around the world. With the increased focus on corporate governance standards, the audit environment has been very challenging over the past number of years, said Kelly, but he adds that the profession is now moving beyond these changes to focus on growth and development.
7.15am Arrive at work - start of another day! I have always been an early starter, mainly as a result of having to get into the city early to grab a free parking space in some back alley when I started work many years ago. I continue my early habit to this day, even though I no longer have a parking problem. On arrival, I immediately check my e-mails - working for an international firm with clients based in different time zones really makes you realise that there is no respite!

8.00am Grab an americano from one of the numerous coffee outlets around our building in Harcourt Street and then scan the paper - business pages and sports page (not in that order!).
Kieran Kelly


8.10am Catch up with Ger McCabe, who is one of our most experienced senior managers and looks after many of the operational aspects of our audit practice. This is not an easy job: our audit practice comprises over 400 people working out of five offices in Ireland. Ger is helping me prepare for our forthcoming European head of audit meeting in Stockholm. Our auditors have had to contend with many changes over the last few years, with increased focus on corporate governance standards, new audit standards, Sarbanes-Oxley (impacting US reporting) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). However, now that we are moving beyond these changes (I hope!), our agenda for Stockholm is more focused on growth and development issues.

9.15am I join some colleagues for a conference call with senior client personnel, most of whom are dialling in from Australia, to discuss a proposed investment transaction. Their concern is to understand the treatment of matters arising from the proposed transaction under Irish tax and accounting rules. Irish accounting rules are undergoing some change at present as they approach the IFRS framework. We provide our advice and agree to follow-up in writing.

10.15am Join an Audit Team Planning Meeting in connection with the audit of one of our plc audit clients. These meetings are very useful for getting a team with diverse skill sets and backgrounds together to work cohesively. Knowledge and insights about the client’s business are shared so that all team members have a clear understanding of our approach to auditing the key issues. The most fulfilling part of my job with Ernst & Young is working closely with very talented people and delivering quality audit services to many clients.
11.30pm I meet Eithne Hannan, who is responsible for managing and designing our Personal Development and Leadership Programmes. We restructured all of these programmes in the last 18 months and believe that this is having an enduring, positive impact on our business. We discuss an initiative we are running on a pilot basis for our European practice; this involves developing a series of workshops to provide better career counselling to our trainee accountants. Our close working relationships with EY Global are affording us opportunities to get involved at ground level in some important initiatives for the firm worldwide.

12.00pm Back to the desk, which is getting a bit untidy. Return some calls and answer important e-mails.

12.45pm Leave for lunch with the finance director of a major client. It is good to catch-up on what is happening in a less formal environment. We also give a good airing to the Munster/Leinster rugby match and the prospects of Dublin, Kerry /et al/ in the All-Ireland. I keep quiet about the prospects of my own county - Meath have just been relegated in the National League.

2.00pm I arrive just in time for the start of the AGM of a plc client at a city centre hotel. The chairman takes the meeting through the agenda in an understated, but extremely efficient manner. As ever at these meetings, the questions from the floor are varied and include some light-hearted comments. However, when it’s my turn to speak, I take away any possible levity from the proceedings - as the auditor I am required to read the entire Auditors’ Report, which seems to get longer every year and I fear ever more incomprehensible to most of the people present. It is nice afterwards to meet a number of the company’s directors and staff over a cup of tea.

4.00pm Back to the dreaded e-mails. I also review some issues with a few of my key managers, including Keith McDonagh who is working on a capital markets fund-raising project with a client. We have been asked to assist with this project, which requires us to do a lot of work on some of the client’s key systems and management accounts. I also speak with our managing partner, Paul Smith, who briefs me on discussions he has had about an upcoming proposal opportunity.

5.00pm I chair the regular monthly meeting of the Steering Committee, overseeing the implementation of our new audit software. This will replace the existing software, which is at least 10 years old. EY Global is making a considerable investment in this new software and it is expected to have a fundamental impact on audit staff across the globe. In Ireland, we are at the forefront in the testing and piloting of the new software. We review our progress against plan. As chair, I try to ensure that we maintain a positive attitude to the implementation, while also keeping a continual focus on the risks involved so that nothing is left to chance.

6.15pm I catch up with Dave Sawaya, a partner in EY San Francisco. We are making a joint presentation to a client on the west coast later this week - I will be presenting by video link. It looks like I will need to get over there later in the year.

6.45pm Already late for going home, so I head for the car park. I do try to get home a bit earlier (but frequently fail) to Susie and the boys. It is great to sit around the dinner table and hear the chat about their day.

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