Laois Chamber CEO Caroline Hofman caught up with Laois Chamber member, Donal Horgan, Managing Director of HFS Accountants and Customs.
They have offices in Mountrath and The Portlaoise Plaza, and London. The team is lead by Donal and Zandra Horgan.
Tell us a bit about HFS Accountants and what you offer?
HFS are Chartered Certified Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisers. I previously worked in multinationals as financial controller which involved a lot of foreign travel mainly in the engineering and manufacturing industries.
Zandra worked in PWC in international Financial Services Tax. For a work life balance we moved back to Laois (Zandra is a native of Vicarstown) and we combined our services and skillset into our own practice.
We cater for the SME sector, high net worth individuals, the farming community, and provide normal compliance services of VAT, PAYE, RCT, Income Tax returns, Corporation Tax Returns and Companies office filings.
Our unique service is the ability to understand the client’s business and their requirements as the business grows through incorporation, succession planning, estate planning, divesting or merger/acquisition, management accounts and finance arrangements.
When was HFS Accountants established, and how have you grown since then?
HFS was established in 2010 with just Zandra and I and one staff member. We purchased, renovated and moved to a new premises which some may remember as the old Credit Union building in Mountrath, in 2014.
As of today in 2022, we have an office in London and Portlaoise with 8 full-time and 5 part-time staff, and we are currently recruiting both on the accounting and customs side.
Can you highlight some recent key achievements/news at HFS Accountants?
Achieving the accreditations of Customs Advisers and Customs Agents in 2020 was a major advancement to our services, and opening our office in London and at J17 in Portlaoise meant we were prepared for the evolving marketplace.
We specialise in goods of Plant and Animal Origin and Killian and Zandra were on the first Calais Port Tour with Unsworth and the UK Food and Drinks Federation, and presented at the first Dublin Port tour.
On the accounting side, embracing technologies for speed and efficiencies and encouraging our clients to use same has led to the paperless office and a global workplace. We were also ready for the EU VAT legislative changes to Distance Selling rules in July 2021 and obtained new UK customers providing their EU IOSS VAT filings.
For any business considering locating in Laois, what would you say are the best things about being located in Laois?
Geographical location is a huge benefit as pre-Covid we could travel to clients all over Ireland within the hour from Dublin, Wicklow, Limerick, Waterford, Athlone. Within 2 hours we were in Cork and Galway.
In the Covid world, technology ensured we continued our one-to-one service with clients and on the customs side we could work with clients worldwide.
The only issue Zandra had was time zones, and in one day working with clients in Brazil, Germany and New Zealand was a long day.
What are your mantras in business and how have they kept you going and your business growing?
Anyone running a business from the SME to Multinationals strive to provide quality of product and service to their customers. HFS ensure that our clients have the procedures and systems in place that their legislative compliance requirements are a norm and unburdensome.
Our unique service is that we are one step ahead of the marketplace in understanding the legislative reform that is evolving. Whether that will be VAT modernisation, New Revenue Audit Code of Practice from 1 May 2022, or EU exporters requirements from 1 July 2022 we ensure our clients are ready to avoid disruption to supply chains and are ready for legislative reform.
Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time with HFS Accountants?
Hopefully the workload will settle as maintaining the continued growth rate and dealing with Covid supports and Brexit brought additional workloads that meant many long hours.
As we head into the later part of 2022, on the accounting side we will see the end to all Covid supports and the new Revenue Audit Code of Practice in place so we can continue to invest in technologies and staff.
This will ensure in 5 years we have the supports in place for continued growth locally, nationally and internationally.
HFS Customs after one year now represents UCustoms Ireland with offices in Laois and London, and affiliates with Unsworth in the UK and UCustoms in France.
In 5 years, we will see the introduction of the digital customs Border by HMRC in 2025 which will ease the administrative burden, and we expect Revenue to look at implementing the same but there will be customs audits and compliances that will be a different increase in workflow.
In 5 years’ time, the technologies that will be in place for both the accounting and customs business will be different.
We expect VAT modernisation to be in place here so the expectation by customers from their accountant will change.
Systems will generate much of the compliances so accountants will need to adapt with the technologies and provide a service specific to their customers business. HFS will be leading the way in assisting clients through the evolving marketplace.
To find out more, visit www.hfsaccountants.com
- Congratulations to Laois Chamber Corporate Member, the Midlands Park Hotel, on recently being awarded Great Place to Work Certification for 2022. The Great Place to Work Certification™ – which is granted to businesses that champion positive and aspirational company cultures – is recognised in over 60 countries, with more than 7,000 organisations surveyed each year.
- Congratulations to Laois Chamber member METAC Training, based in Mountrath, on winning the title of Best Services Provider for their training programmes at the SEAI Energy Show 2022.
- Laois to host World Ploughing Contest later this year after venue switched following Russian invasion of Ukraine https://www.laoistoday.ie/
2022/04/06/laois-to-host- world-ploughing-contest-later- this-year-after-venue- switched-following-russian- invasion-of-ukraine/
- First section of Triogue Way – a new walking and cycling link – opens in the heart of Portlaoise https://www.laoistoday.ie/
2022/04/02/first-section-of- triogue-way-a-new-walking-and- cycling-link-opens-in-the- heart-of-portlaoise/
- New Business Sustainability & Environmental Studies course now being offered at Portlaoise Institute https://www.laoistoday.ie/
2022/04/04/new-business- sustainability-environmental- studies-course-now-being- offered-at-portlaoise- institute/
- Portlaoise Facade Enhancement Scheme (Phase II)
Laois County Council is seeking to improve the attractiveness and tourism potential of Portlaoise Town by supporting the owners of residential and commercial properties to paint their exteriors
Apply for a grant: https://bit.ly/PLaoiseFacade
Eligibility information at: https://laois.ie/departments/
- Portarlington Facade Enhancement Scheme
In accordance with the “Portarlington Regeneration Strategy 2030”, Laois County Council is seeking to improve the streetscape/public realm of Portarlington Town. This scheme will assist owners of commercial and residential properties with exterior painting.
For more information, visit:https://laois.ie/
- Remote working is here to stay, and is set to become a bigger part of the workplace. How can your company adapt to these practices? Our Guidance for Working Remotely provides practical advice.
View the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment’s Guidance for Working Remotely: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/
What’s coming up?
- Laois Jobs Fair
40 exhibitors, and 100s of roles on offer. There is something for everyone, whether you are a Graduate, reskilling, or looking for a new role. There will also be the opportunity to fin out more about upskilling, post-graduate, training and apprenticeship opportunities.
Laois Chamber will also have a Ukrainian Hub at their stand, with translators available to help Ukrainian citizens requiring assistance in accessing training or employment opportunities.
- Shine 2022 Explained: With €10,000 up for grabs, how does Ireland’s Fittest Club competition at Shine 2022 in Emo Court this May work:
- Laois Chamber April Networking Event
Thursday 28th April, from 8.30am-9.30am in Bloom HQ, Mountrath. People First Credit Union and St. Canice’s Credit Union will give a presentation on “What your local Credit Union can offer your business”. Non-members welcome, registration essential. E-mail email@example.com to register
- IT Carlow are offering a fully funded 10 credit level 8 NFQ Certificate in Effective Leadership and Change Management. The course is 100% free to all participants, and will be delivered online commencing on 26th April over 8 weeks, from 7pm-10pm.
- Twitter For Business
FREE online workshop with Local Enterprise Office Laois on Tuesday, 19th April 2022, from 2pm to 4.30pm. Book your place here: https://www.localenterprise.ie/Laois/Training-Events/Online-Bookings/T2224-Twitter-For-Business.html