PwC hosts Business Leaders Conference to examine 'Decisions 2014'




PwC's Business Leaders Conference 'Decisions 2014'
Pictured at PwC's Business Leaders Conference 'Decisions 2014' are (l-r): Hamish McRae (International commentator), Kevin Egan (Assurance Leader, PwC) and Louise English (Non-Executive Director).

PwC today hosts its 2013 Business Leaders conference themed 'Decisions 2014' attended by over 1,000 business leaders at the Convention Centre, Dublin. The conference will explore how successful organisations adapt to the challenges and opportunities of growth within their industry and what decisions are needed to ensure the right 'blueprint' is in place to be fit for the future.

Addressing the conference, Kevin Egan, PwC's Assurance Leader said: "With emerging signs of growth and many business leaders feeling more positive about future prospects for their organisations and the economy, the conference is intended to inform our clients and colleagues as they position themselves for the future and the many decisions they will need to make. As a small open economy, Ireland is hugely dependent on external markets, and while there is evidence of a pick-up in global markets, Ireland's recovery as an open economy will depend on the extent of growth in the economies with which we trade.

"However, the world is changing at a breathtaking pace and this presents significant opportunities for Ireland. For Irish companies, really embracing the digital age will separate the winners from the losers. This will involve embedding data analytics, mobile technologies and social media strategies into their organisation's DNA to define simpler more efficient business structures and ultimately be more profitable. As an exporting nation, the shift in the economic power to the East will open up even more new markets for our products and services. Likewise, the increasing middle classes in these countries will also present significant inward investment opportunities for Ireland. The demographic shift, as our population becomes more mature, will define the workforce of tomorrow, impacting business models in terms of retooling our people for new ways of working. Important decisions in all of these areas will be critical as we move forward. Successful organisations will be the ones who can adapt to these trends and treat them as opportunities."

Keynote speaker and international commentator, Hamish McRae, said: "The world economy looks like having at least five years of decent growth ahead. That creates great opportunities for well-managed companies - and wise investors - in Ireland as well as the rest of the developed world. There is still a long road ahead, but from now on there may be more of a tailwind helping us along. Against this background and the rise in the economic power to the East, there is the probability that Ireland will have several years of expansion."

Speaking about Ireland's economy, Jim Power, Economist, commented: "Ireland has come through a very difficult phase but is now starting to come out the other side. It is imperative that we build a diversified and sustainable economic model. That process is now beginning and it will present many challenges but more importantly it will provide many opportunities for the Irish economy and for Irish business. The future is still very challenging but is brighter than at any stage since 2007."

Feargal O'Rourke, Head of Tax, PwC, said: "There is a revolution going on in Global Taxation at the moment where the tax principles which have governed cross border trade for the last almost 100 years are under examination. This is most seen in the OECD's BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) plan which is progressing at a much speedier pace than usual for OECD plans. For the issues which the OECD is examining, Ireland is in quite good shape from a tax perspective and there may be benefits if some FDI companies decide to align their IP, which generally is offshore, with their business activities which are here in Ireland".

Also speaking at the event, Chand Kohli, PwC's Financial Services Leader commented: "The financial services industry faces significant and disruptive change in the light of technological and social change. The massive increase in mobile technology coupled with the development in social networks, which feed off each other, will bring significant and disruptive change to financial services. Economic, technological and social reforms will transform how consumers want to interact with their financial institutions. The financial services organisations who adapt will be the winners. There is a need for a change in mindset, learning from other sectors, bringing in new talent from outside of the sector and really breaking the mould. Successful financial services organisations will be those who forge ahead and embrace new technologies, simplify their operating processes and really understand what the customer wants."

Guest speaker, Peter O'Mahony, Founder and CEO, Linked Finance, said: "There is a gap in the market right now for the provision of a credible alternative to bank finance for small businesses. The provision of 'crowd finance' is one such viable alternative where people can lend small amounts of funding to great Irish businesses at very attractive interest rates. Such form of alternative finance has already proved successful in the world of the arts and is also working well in the US for small businesses. This form of finance is a workable solution for both start-ups and existing growing businesses."

Garrett Cronin, PwC Consulting Partner, added: "As an economy returning to growth, there is an opportunity now for businesses to take a hard look at their business models to ensure they have the right 'blueprint' for the future. That includes (1) looking at what the business does: for example, is there an understanding of which products, services and customers are profitable and are the right markets being targeted? (2) looking at how the business is structured: for example, is there an opportunity to outsource non-core activities or investigate shared services centres? and (3) looking at how good the business is at what it does: for example, how strong is the organisation's market position, brand and reputation? has the organisation established key performance indicators and are these benchmarked against competitors? There is a real opportunity right now to look at all of these areas so the business can benefit even more from the upturn."

ENDS

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