SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member,   

In this week's e-zine, we advise on how to become a flexible employer. Our next networking event on 27 September will focus on this topic with keynote speaker, Jason Sherlock, legendary Dublin footballer. I look forward to meeting many members there.

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we profile a different government support available to small businesses. In this edition, we focus on the Finuas Networks Programme, which offers subsidised training in key skills for the international financial services sector.


We bring you the latest Brexit developments including an SFA meeting with Copenhagen Economics. Find out about the DIT career services available for your business and details of the Taking Care of Business event taking place on 8 November.

Oonagh Buckely, Director-General of the Workplace Relations Commission will be speaking at this year’s SFA Employment Law Conference in Dublin on 9 October, register to attend now. The highlight of the small business calendar, the SFA Annual Lunch 2017 is taking place in the Mansion House on 10 November. Book your place on our Performance Management course on 14 December to prepare your managers for end-of-year appraisals. We also provide a summary of recent press coverage

As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me on tel: 01 605 1602 or e-mail: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.

Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director

Recent press coverage
  • Support for exporters
  • New SFA Director

Support for exporters

SFA was referred to in an article in the Irish Times on 18 September where they called for Brussels to allow greater state support for struggling exporters. 

New SFA Director

On 17 September, the Sunday Business Post reported the appointment of Sven Spollen-Behrens as the Director of the Small Firms Association in its 'Movers & Shakers' section.

How to become a more flexible employer
Flexible working is on the rise, giving employees flexibility on where, when and the hours they work. This reassessment on the ways of working has come about due to globalisation, increased competition, changing technology and continued pressure on businesses to reduce costs...

Flexible working is on the rise, giving employees flexibility on where, when and the hours they work. This reassessment on the ways of working has come about due to globalisation, increased competition, changing technology and continued pressure on businesses to reduce costs. These factors in addition to the tight labour market have led many employers to explore alternative methods of organising work.

Some of the most popular types of flexible work practices are:

  • Part-time working: work is generally considered part-time when employees are contracted to work anything less than full-time hours
  • Job-sharing: a form of part-time working where two (or occasionally more) people share the responsibility for a job between them
  • Flexitime: allows employees to choose, within certain set limits, when to begin and end work
  • Mobile working/teleworking: this permits employees to work all or part of their working week at a location remote from the employer's workplace
  • Career breaks: career breaks, or sabbaticals, are extended periods of leave – normally unpaid – of up to five years or more.

What has a company to gain from introducing flexible working?

Flexible working presents an opportunity for businesses to increase, obtain or retain competitive advantage. The benefits to be gained include:

Productivity: Flexible working allows a better match of business resources with the demand for services. In addition, employees are more engaged as they appreciate the business’s facilitation of their request to work flexibly.

Cost savings: A fully remote workforce means no expenses for office space or equipment, and the ability to hire from areas where competitive salaries are less for equally talented candidates.

Increased ability to attract and retain high-quality talent:  As the economy nears full employment, smaller businesses are finding it difficult to compete with its larger counterparts in attracting or retaining high performing employees. However, offering flexible working can be a real selling point for potential candidates.

It is clear that working in a more flexible manner has the potential to offer organisations practical solutions to not only meet the evolving needs of their workforce, but also control operational costs, while finding competitive advantage in greater customer focus and innovation.

If you are interested in learning more about flexible working and how you could implement flexible work practices in your business then come along to our free SFA event on 27 September. For further information, contact Ciara McGuone on ciara.mcguone@sfa.ie or 01 605 1668.

Subsidised training in key skills for the international financial services sector

Spotlight on the Finuas Networks Programme, which provides State-subsidised training in key skills for the banking and capital markets, investment management and insurance industries. This article provides information on the grant and advice on how to apply...

There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.

*To speak to the providers of Finuas and other government supports for small business, register for the free Taking Care of Business event on 8 November in Dublin Castle www.takingcareofbusiness.ie

Finuas Networks Programme


State subsidised training courses for the international financial services sector. The model involves co-investment by the State and firms to develop training networks and offer enterprise-led training to upskill existing staff and expand the pool of high value, specialised and market-appropriate skills within the industry.

Finuas training networks offer courses designed for the following sectors:

  • Banking and capital markets
  • Investment management
  • Insurance
  • Companies that provide professional services to the above sectors, including legal, tax, accounting, business advice and IT consultancy

The courses available range from short courses to Masters awards and cover topics such as compliance, advanced banking risk management, applied alternative investments, aviation leasing and finance, complex financial instruments and financial regulation.


The establishment of the Finuas programme arose from a 2007 study by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs on the ‘Future Skills and Research Needs of the International Financial Services Industry’. The report identified the need to provide a greater focus on specialising in a number of selected areas which would support the development of an internationally distinctive competence which is more aligned with a mid to high cost base.

Finuas aims to support the sector in maintaining Ireland’s position as a top international financial services centre by investing in further developing the specialist skills and expertise of its workforce. The State subsidy comes from the National Training Fund and is administered by Skillnets.


Finuas training is delivered by Finuas learning networks, made up of a group of companies working together to provide training for their collective staff. Companies can join one or more networks.

At present, there is no funding available to new networks. Companies can, however, join a funded network or participate in training at any time through one of the existing networks: 


If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:

  • Participating companies must operate in the international financial services sector and be wholly private sector business or commercial operations
  • Companies of any size are eligible
  • Those employees participating in Finuas training must be based in Ireland
  • Job seekers fulfilling certain criteria can access Finuas training at no cost. More information is available here
  • It is hoped that the programme will allow companies to learn from each other and absorb best practice, which will lead to jointly recognised and improved industry standards
  • More information is available at www.finuas.ie.
Brexit developments: SFA meets Copenhagen Economics

Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, last week met with a team from Copenhagen Economics, the international economic consultancy engaged by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to conduct a study on Brexit...

The SFA has continued to track Brexit developments closely over the summer months, in particular the position papers published by the UK Government.

On 12 September, Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, met with a team from Copenhagen Economics, the international economic consultancy engaged by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to study the main general and sectoral impacts of Brexit on the Irish economy under different exit scenarios and devise policy solutions.

The main priority from the SFA perspective was to convey the scale of the potential impact of Brexit on small firms – both those who export directly to the UK and those that would be the subject of ‘second order’ impacts due to the nature of their supply chains. Linda also raised other issues that had been highlighted by members, including the free movement of workers and customers across the border with Northern Ireland and the capacity constraints in small firms when it comes to customs, logistics and market/product diversification.

The SFA made a strong case for the Government to act now to support the exporting sectors, which are already under threat from the exchange rate movements, and to introduce measures to make Ireland more cost competitive and tax competitive.

The SFA would encourage all firms to assess the potential impact of Brexit on their business using the SFA Brexit Toolkit. For additional guidance, or to share your views on Brexit, contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on 01 605 1626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie.  

Taking Care of Business event launched
The owners of SFA member company, Blanco Nino, joined the Tanaiste, Minister Breen and the SFA Assistant Director to launch Taking Care of Business, a free one-stop-shop event for small businesses, which will take place in November...

The 'Taking Care of Business' event was officially launched on 12 September by Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD, with Minister of State Pat Breen TD, SFA member company Blanco Nino and SFA Assistant Director, Linda Barry.

Taking Care of Business is a free one-stop-shop event for small businesses which will take place on 8 November in the Printworks Conference Centre in Dublin Castle. This half-day event is for those who own, manage a small business or are thinking of starting a new business. 

Speaking at the launch, An Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald said, "This event provides a fantastic opportunity for small business owners, entrepreneurs and those who want to start up businesses to get advice from a wide variety of agencies, on topics as diverse as health and safety and access to finance, for instance. We all want, and need, small businesses to succeed and this event is part of our efforts to explain, simply and clearly, government regulation, and how best to deal with it."

Information stands will be open throughout the event, allowing you to speak informally with staff from each of the bodies attending. There will be three sets of presentations chaired by: Linda Barry, Assistant Director of the Small Firms Association, Mary Rose Burke, CEO of Dublin Chamber and Dr Donal de Buitléir, Director of Public Policy.ie. 

The State offices and agencies represented will provide information across a wide range of areas, including: 

  • Tax, employment and Health & Safety obligations;
  • Legal requirements for setting up and running a company;
  • Requirements in areas such as food and environmental safety; and
  • Assistance and supports from enterprise agencies

Early booking is strongly advised as there are a limited number of places available. Find out the full agenda and register here.

DIT career services to industry
Advertise your company vacancies for free, promote your organisation on campus and find out about industry placements... 

With over 20,000 students registered, DIT is now one of Ireland’s largest and most innovative university – level institutions, delivering over 300 courses across a wide range of disciplines at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. DIT also has a strong research focus throughout its four colleges:

  • College of Arts and Tourism
  • College of Business
  • College of Engineering and Built Environment
  • College of  Sciences and Health

Advertise your vacancies FREE OF CHARGE

You can advertise any of your job opportunities to students and graduates free of charge. These can be posted on www.dit.ie/jobscene – DIT's online vacancy database which is accessed by students and graduates. 

Promote your organisation on campus

  • Take part in one of DIT's employer fairs – providing you with a great opportunity to meet potential employees and promote your company in a more personal and informal environment
  • Place a stand in a designated area (campus foyer for a morning / afternoon) which can provide you with an excellent opportunity to meet students
  • Take part in one of DIT's career learning workshops as a guest speaker.

Industry placement

Industrial placements are incorporated in a number of DIT’s programmes. Placement students can be a valuable resource to your company and often valuable to organisations at peak times.

Contact us

For all queries and further information please contact DIT's Employer Liaison Officer on 01 402 3082 or email careers@dit.ie

Keynote speaker: Jason Sherlock - how to get the most from a flexible team
  • 27 September

Business on the go - how to get the most from a flexible team

With keynote speaker Jason Sherlock 

Small businesses are being placed under increasing pressure to consider alternative models of work. This pressure comes from a more demanding marketplace and from employees that are seeking to address the balance between work and other commitments.


Flexible working arrangements can work to the advantage of both employers and employees. This event will provide HR tips for implementing flexible working in your business, how to keep mobile workers motivated and technology solutions.  

  • Date: Wednesday, 27 September – 5:30pm – 8pm
  • Venue: Three, 28/29 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin



Jason Sherlock, legendary Dublin footballer and now Selector with the All-Ireland winning Dublin Football team will share his thoughts from personal experience on the performance of teams and how this translates from the pitch to a modern workplace.


Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive will discuss the management of remote workers which include those working from home, in satellite offices and those who drive for work. Ciara will focus on the policies that you should have in place in these situations to meet your obligations as an employer and will look at the health and safety and working time considerations of having these types of workers.


A panel discussion will follow talking to award-winning small businesses and how they have successfully implemented flexible working and the technology solutions available.


Panel participants:

  • Jason Sherlock, Selector with the Dublin Football team
  • Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive
  • Dave Byrne, MD Dualtron
  • Darren Fortune, MD Ventac
  • Karl McDermott, Head of 3Connected Solutions at Three

Who should attend?


If you have employees who work flexibly or would like to implement flexible working in your small business then this is the event for you.

The event will last for approximately 75 minutes with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.

This event is free to attend but please pre-register online here.

The Workplace Relations Act - SFA Employment Law Conference
  • Dublin - Clontarf Castle - 9 October 

Whats on the horizon?

This year’s SFA Employment Law Conference tells you what you need to know about the developments in employment law, learning lessons from recent cases and also highlighting the pitfalls to avoid.

We are delighted to announce that Oonagh Buckely, Director-General of the Workplace Relations Commission will be speaking at this year’s SFA Employment Law Conference in Dublin.

Oonagh Buckley is a qualified barrister. Prior to her appointment as Director General to the WRC, she worked in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and was responsible for pay and pensions policy for the Irish public service and led the Government team in all the major pay and industrial relations negotiations in recent years.

The Workplace Relations Act 2015 introduced sweeping changes to the legal structures affecting small businesses. Attendees at the conference will have the opportunity to get a unique insight from the Director-General about how these changes have been implemented two years on and the main challenges they present for employers.

When and where?

  • 9 October
  • Clontarf Castle, Castle Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3

To secure your place(s) book online today

Who should attend?

All owner managers, managers in small businesses and HR professionals who need to build their competence and confidence in the vital area of employment legislation. 


  • SFA Member rate: €190 + VAT @ 23% (€233.70)
Book now - SFA Annual Lunch 2017
  • 10 November
  • The Mansion House

The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. It is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society.

The SFA Annual Lunch 2017 will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday, 10 November from 12:30pm - 4:30pm. 

Join over 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season.

Member rate of €750 + VAT for a table of 10 or €75 + VAT - book your tickets online now

Are your managers prepared for end-of-year appraisals?

It is important that appraisals, as well as other aspects of performance management, are handled well in order to address poor performance and ensure that high performers remain engaged with their work. The SFA's Performance Management and Appraisal Skills course will equip the managers in your business with the skills needed to maximise the performance of employees...

As Q4 approaches, end-of-year appraisals are on the minds of managers and employees alike. It is important that these appraisals, as well as other aspects of performance management, are handled well in order to address poor performance and ensure that high performers remain engaged with their work.

Now is the time for you and the people managers in your business to avail of the SFA’s Performance Management and Appraisal Skills one-day course on 14 December.

Topics covered include:

  • The employee lifecycle
  • Managing the appraisal meeting: preparation, structure, style
  • Managing poor and high performers
  • Delivering feedback and dealing with challenging people


  • When: 14 December 2017
  • Where: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
  • Cost: €190 per delegate (SFA member rate)
  • Book now by clicking here

Other courses

Booking is now open for the following courses:

  • Project Management:7 December (see here)
  • Foundations in Management: 23-24 November (see here)
  • Foundations in Employment Law: 30 November-1 December (see here)

The price for SFA members is €190 per person for the one-day courses and €370 for the two-day courses.

For all upcoming events and training courses, see www.sfa.ie/events