Turning the page on a new chapter

Written by admin

November 6, 2023

Article taken from Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Its acquisition by ETL Global marks an exciting new era in the evolution of Dublin firm new Noone Casey, says co-founder Anthony Casey.

Just over three decades since it first opened its doors, Noone Casey, the Dublin-based accounting firm, is entering a new era as part of ETL Global, the German-headquartered professional services network.

For Anthony Casey, who co-founded the firm in 1992 with joint partner Andrew Noone, the move marks an exciting new chapter in their shared business story. 

“We say that we tell the financial stories of local and international businesses who care about their success, whether measured in financial, social or personal terms,” says Casey.

“And now, after 30 years of storytelling from Dublin, Noone Casey is following in the footsteps of Joyce, Beckett and even Murdoch in creating a greater international dimension to our business.”

Recalling the firm’s early days, Casey adds: “I remember the business environment in Ireland when we started was poor. We were just coming out of the eighties and state supports for early-stage businesses were few and far between.

“I think our turnover in year one was about £25,000 between the two of us. We really were bootstrapped, but that was how we had to operate. 

“We just built the business as we went, but the key always was that we enjoyed it even back then, and we have continued to enjoy it as the years have gone by.”

Noone Casey has also carved out its own successful niche in the media and entertainment sectors, working with well-known artists and personalities, such as Tommy Tiernan, Mark Little and Grammy award winners Rodrigo y Gabriela, alongside clients in technology and professional services.

“It was actually through our work in media that we found out about ETL Global,” says Noone. 

“We were dealing with MGR Weston Kay in London in relation to our media clients and they suggested that we get in touch with Dr Christian Gorny, CEO of ETL Global, and the senior ETL Global management team.”

Casey and Noone saw “immediate value” in a potential new alliance with ETL Global, which provides accounting, taxation and legal services to companies of all sizes, but especially start-ups and SMEs.

“Noone Casey is similar in that we have largely specialised in providing Irish start-ups and SMEs with accounting, assurance and corporate finance services—and ETL recognises the role of the accounting practice in providing, not just compliance, but ongoing financial advice and support to SMEs,” says Casey.

“The SME sector accounts for 99.8 percent of the total number of enterprises in Ireland and Irish Chartered Accountancy firms are the backbone of this market. We just saw this really compelling opportunity for the ETL skill base in the Irish market.”

ETL Global launched in 2015 as the international arm of Essen-based professional services firm ETL, and now has a worldwide network of over 1,000 offices in 50 countries.

“Our acquisition is part of ETL Global’s rapid expansion in Europe. It allows them to offer a global service to member firms, including succession planning, international accounting and taxation support for expanding Irish firms,” says Casey.

He will now take on a new role as Master Partner for ETL Global in the Irish market while the firm’s day-to-day management will continue to be led by Roseann Heavey. Like both Casey and Noone, Heavey is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland. 

She trained and qualified with the Dublin firm before gaining further experience in Ireland and the UK and then returning to become Noone Casey’s Managing Partner.
“My own role with the firm has always been focused on business development and I will now be responsible for identifying firms that are the right fit for ETL Global investment,” Casey says.

The ETL Global target is to invest in five firms in the Irish market in 2023, followed by five in 2024, and up to 10 in 2025.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting firms around the country as ETL rolls out its expansion plans, because I know from first-hand experience just how problematic succession planning in accounting firms has been in recent years,” he says.

ETL typically acquires 51 percent of new member firms, such as Noone Casey. It will also finance the next generation of partners in acquiring the shares of the original partners, and the acquisition of successful sole trader firms by member firms.
“What we have done in effect here is dilute our shareholding. This allows for opportunities in the future to step away if and when we want to, with a succession plan in place whereby key staff members can then come forward and acquire our shares from us as time progresses,” says Casey.

“When you build a business, the start-up phase is always exciting, then there is the ‘messy middle’ where you’re driving forward, earning money and building the business, and then you suddenly arrive at a stage where you have to ask yourself, ‘how do we exit and retain value?’ 

“We had been having this conversation in-house for a few years; trying to work out how we could exit the business smoothly without being dependent on new partners coming in and paying us over an extended period of time. 

“We didn’t want to follow that model, and the Big Four model where you’re ‘naked in, naked out’—you don’t buy in or get paid off on the way out—wasn’t relevant to us,” says Casey.

“At the same time, we were thinking, ‘well, we have created a business that’s profitable—how do we get value out of it?’ 

“It can be very challenging to identify a party that has the necessary funds available and also respects your independence. ETL Global satisfied both of these criteria for us and that was really the genesis of the deal.”