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Gearing up for growth Back  
This year’s Finance accountancy survey finds the industry in extremely good health, with annual growth rates of over 17 per cent amongst the top twenty-one firms in Ireland.

The growth was widespread in this year’s survey, with mid-tier firms outshining their Big 4 counterparts, who only managed a collective growth rate of 14 per cent. Buoyed by the strength of the Irish economy, mid-tier firms are expressing their confidence in a continuation of this environment, by expanding their businesses, forging new partnerships, and making acquisitions.

With very strong growth right across the economy, particularly in the financial services sector, and the demand for new services from the firms such as wealth management, mid-tier firms are well placed to expand as the market requires.

However, although all the firms are benefiting from the boom, continuous high levels of growth brings its own problems. As in last year’s survey, the managing partners of the accountancy firms identified staffing as the biggest issue facing the industry, with firms finding it increasingly difficult to find staff to meet the current growth levels.
Despite this difficulty, the top firms still managed to collectively recruit 1,592 staff over the past 12 months, reinforcing the good image the profession has. However, with an additional 1,771 staff expected to be hired by the firms over the coming year, Donal O’Connor, managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the largest employer in the sector, reiterated the need to, ‘ensure that the profession continues to remain an attractive option for quality people to join and to stay over the long-term’.

Although capacity issues are widespread across the finance and financial services sectors, employment continues to grow. According to the survey, there are now over 9,000 people employed by the top accountancy firms. Moreover, a new statistic compiled by FINANCE based on an amalgam of data, including the Central Statistics Office data, and Finance Dublin IFSC employment data, as well as other sources, indicates that there are now, of the order of 100,000 people employed in finance and the financial services sector in Ireland.

A continuation of growth at the rate revealed in this survey, and those of recent years, would see the figure doubling by 2016 to 200,000 people employed in the sector.

To meet these employment targets, it will be essential that a wise and judicious regulatory regime is applied, along with an enlightened approach to economic policy, and the retention of Ireland’s relative tax position.

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