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Monday, 15th April 2024
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Leading a big 4 accountancy firm Back  
Damian Neylin, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ and leader of its investment management practice, gives insight into how the investment management practice of a large accountancy firm operates. From the new Spencer Dock offices, Neylin and his team provide industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to over 60 per cent of the investment funds authorised / administered in Ireland.
6.45 am Wake up. My wife and three daughters are still asleep. After a quick shower, tiptoe out of the house and on my way to work.

7.15 am Arrive at Spencer Dock (a short commute is a perk of living in Clontarf!). Our brand new building recently celebrated its first birthday, it’s a great place to work, full of bright colours and sunshine.

7.30 am Attend the latest in our series of breakfast “Finger on the Pulse” IM client seminars in our 7th floor Hospitality Suite. This morning, we are presenting on Anti-Money Laundering and over breakfast, I discuss with some of our clients the key implementation challenges ahead of the upcoming Third EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
Damian Neylin

9.15 am Quick review of the papers and catch up on emails.

9.30 am Attend audit planning meeting for major fund client administered in the South East of Ireland. We now have a substantial IM audit presence in Kilkenny in recognition of the number of fund administrators in the South East corridor and most of the audit team are attending via video conference from Kilkenny. We are in the process of establishing during 2008 an IM audit presence in Cork, given recent growth in fund business administered in the Munster region.

10.25 am On my way to next meeting, pass by Starbucks in our Atrium. The scent of coffee beans is enticing but I manage to hold my nerve, settling for a glass of water at my next meeting!

10.30 am Brief meeting with Omer Khan, the manager leading our Islamic Finance initiative in PwC Dublin. This initiative has taken on greater significance in the context of the growing importance of sovereign wealth funds and I am delighted to hear that we are winning work with a number of administrators, assisting them in becoming Shariah compliant.

10.45 am Attend Fund board meeting in St Stephens Green. The high-tech PwC bus service ensures that we arrive in good time and the meeting goes smoothly. As part of our audit approach, we place great emphasis on our interaction with funds’ boards and audit partners generally attend both planning and clearance board meetings, providing comprehensive reports on our approach and findings. In terms of corporate governance, Ireland leads the way by comparison with other offshore domiciles and this has served us well in the context of recent UCITS ‘substance’ developments.

12.30 pm Back at Spencer Dock for catch up meeting with Olwyn Alexander, who heads up our Irish Alternatives practice. Alternatives, especially hedge funds, have fuelled growth in the Irish funds industry and also our own growth in PwC. We discuss Olwyn’s plans for speaking at the GAIM Conference in Monte Carlo. This is the key global hedge funds conference and PwC is one of the main sponsors. I become increasingly envious when I hear of the plans for a PwC beach party for clients. I will still be in Dublin, no doubt walking with the kids on rainy Dollymount strand!

1 pm Lunch in our Sixth Floor restaurant with Damian Byrne, one of our graduate recruitment partners and Roshene Pickering, our IM Director of operations. With over 400 people working in IM area, graduates are an important part of the mix. We discuss how while specialising new graduates in the IM business, they will also be given opportunities to work on our other flagship clients, both within and outside of financial services. As we complete our meal, Damian and I discuss how we will build on our recent awards in the people space, including coming first in Best Company to Work For in Ireland and the Gradireland Most Popular Graduate Recruiter in 2008.

2 pm Audit review for hedge fund client. Some difficult issues arising on valuations and I consult with one or two colleagues. Despite our scale in the IM practice, we have encouraged a collegiate, consultative approach.
This has been greatly facilitated by the layout of our building where our 5 audit groups in IM all work on the same floor joined by bridges and walkways.

3.30 pm Meet with Trish Johnston and Andrea Kelly (both new partners in the IM area) as well as Declan Murphy (new IM Director). We will as of 1 July 2008 have 14 partners and 3 directors in the IM space, the vast majority of whom have been admitted in the last 10 years, reflecting our growth in the period.

4.30 pm Attend with Jonathan O’Connell, a partner who chairs the IFIA Technical Committee, a subgroup meeting of the Taoiseach’s Funds Group, concerning accounting matters. In response to industry requests, we are working in tandem with the IFIA, other BIG 4 representatives and the legal and administrator community to facilitate the use by Irish funds of the UK SORP on investment funds in Ireland. This will provide an additional option in financial reporting particularly for our UK clients, supplementing the existing choices of Irish, US and International financial reporting standards. It is a complex area and we agree more consultation is needed with the Financial Regulator and other government departments. Nonetheless, all agree that some progress has been made.

6 pm We are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our merger and a global initiative called ‘Power of 10’ marks the occasion by collaborating with the UN to provide assistance to 20,000 Darfur refugee children. Donations by PwC staff are made online and my own donation takes no more then 2 minutes. If only all internet transactions were as simple!

6.30 pm Head to our gym for a gentle work out. Having a gym, with fantastic equipment, right in our office is a real benefit. It is also a really easy way to catch up on world news as all of the equipment has personalised TVs.

7.30 pm Home to my wife Carol and the kids. After a quick meal, help my oldest daughter Lucy, aged 13,
with her homework. Embarrassed to admit that, despite being a qualified accountant, my mathematical knowledge is severely tested by Venn diagrams.

8.30 pm With a series of bribes and admonishments, manage to convince my 2 younger daughters, Hannah and Tara, that brushing their teeth and going to bed is a far better option than continuing to play on their Nintendos.

9.30 pm Settle down for a glass of wine with Carol to discuss the day’s events. After our weekly dose of ‘Boston Legal’, we retire to bed, with the prospect of tomorrow’s trip to Brussels a distant reality.

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