Sentiment for the business services sector in April proved to be a mixed bag. Peter Horgan looks at how the services industry is handling see-saw fluctuations
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) seasonally adjusted figures show that business services showed a slight increase (0.07 per cent) in April when compared to March this year.
However, compared to April 2011, the services in that industry have decreased by 0.05 per cent. So while businesses have experienced a better end to the first quarter of 2012, when compared to 2011 they are down, albeit not significantly.
The Cork Chamber of Commerce, ahead of its second quarter survey due to be released in the next number of days, was cautious in its response.
“In the Chamber’s view the International Financial Services sector provides significant opportunities for Cork,” said Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy.
“Cork has a proven record of securing and retaining market leading Financial Service companies and has an excellent academic base and quality of life to support employee recruitment and retention. However, continued investment in connectivity and high quality office space will be required to ensure the region maximises the sector’s potential.”
The Chamber’s Economic Survey found that a large amount of businesses in Cork are confident about their economic future, while just under 50 per cent expected staff levels to remain the same over the next 12 months.
Cork–based TaxAssist have insisted that business, compared to this time last year, for the services industry is “ten times better.”
“My customer base is Cork and Ireland, I don’t export my services,” said Clive Aherne, Director of TaxAssist.
“So while the bailout of Spain and the elections in Greece are important, they do not have a severe impact on the business of services in Cork, not directly at least.”
Clive insisted the country will return stronger after the bailout conditions are lifted, describing the current budgetary adjustments as a “bitter pill to swallow.”
“As an economy we have significant investment and interest from China and America. We also here in Cork have the proposed site at Beamish and Crawford, which will increase footfall in the city centre and increase the need for services such as accountants. The more money you make, the more you have to ensure you are paying the right tax.”
Clive dismissed suggestions that the recession has influenced people to engage in a DIY-style approach in their tax affairs on a wide scale.
“Of course people are doing their own taxes but the point is that they are not fully qualified to know what they are entitled to,” commented the Tax Assist Director.
“I could change the oil in my car but would I be doing it correctly? I might be able to get the car running but would that be the best thing for the car?”
Clive also insists green shoots are on the horizon with several small business around the city and county hiring small amounts of people over the next two years.
“It is about the one or two jobs that can be sustained by small business that will pull us out of where we are,” stressed Clive.
“Of course we welcome the multinational companies like Apple, EMC etc hiring large amounts of people but the small and medium businesses also have an important part to play.”