Associate Blog: Re-shaping the future of SMEs

In this article, we hear from ex CPA Ireland President and EFM Ireland Finance Director, John Devaney, as he discusses his time as CPA Ireland President and how SMEs have adapted throughout the pandemic.

When I accepted the support of my colleagues on Council and agreed, in February 2020, to be the next CPA President, I was focused on the external environment at that time and, primarily, on the challenges posed by Brexit. Obviously, the impact of Covid has dramatically changed the way we all live, work, interact and think about the future.

When the pandemic first struck, nobody ever imagined how it would affect businesses. However, as time went on, many business owners identified and acted upon the opportunities a crisis can present and began to adapt their working lifestyle and business models in order to communicate with customers and keep the business operating. Bustling sectors like clothing companies began selling face masks, and pubs & restaurants turned into takeaways. Remote working and communicating via a platform like Zoom quickly became the new norm for talking to business associates, customers and family & friends.

During my term as CPA Ireland President, I have worked to support entrepreneurs and SMEs, who are so important in creating wealth and employment in Ireland. The SME industry in every economy are now more important than ever and I believe that we can all take inspiration from the adaptability and the innovation shown by those small business owners who have, almost overnight, changed aspects of their business model to continue to trade throughout the crisis.

As an experienced Finance Director, I have spent my career working within a variety of company sectors. Operating as a Portfolio FD with EFM Ireland has allowed me the flexibility to focus my skillset on supporting multiple SMEs throughout the good times and the bad, weathering the Brexit and Covid storms, and helping business owners to identify the opportunities in a crisis.

Considering the future, I believe that sustainability and climate change are the two key trends and challenges for SMEs to adapt. Agile working is paramount and with the new normal way of remote working and decline in commuting, many businesses are already adapting and thriving. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company found that responses to COVID-19 have accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul. Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at both the organisational and industry levels.

As we take the next step towards tackling the pandemic with new vaccinations, a lockdown exit plan, and the fallout of the Brexit adjustment, we must remain cautiously optimistic for the future and support one another.

We know it can be lonely at the top, which is why our experienced Finance Directors and Business Advisors can help you tackle the challenges that your company may face. Book a 1-2-1 Consultation or get in touch via or call 01254 2176.