"Farmers would send in boxes stuffed with receipts and invoices, and often they’d carry the physical evidence of animal husbandry on them, if I can put it like that"

Philip Maher

The newest member of Council’s Irish contingent says there are two big elements which explain the love affair between his country and ACCA.

For Philip Maher, it’s all about people and tradition.

‘I’m so proud that there are such strong links between the two, and for me there are a couple of reasons which explain it,’ said Philip, a Dubliner who now lives in the city of Limerick in the mid-west of the Republic.

‘First of all there is such a rich tradition of Irish people recognizing that ACCA is a brilliant organisation, and the best qualification they can get if they want a career in finance. That tradition deepens with the years, and one generation follows the next, because it is such a tried-and-tested route.

‘And second, that tradition has produced some amazing individuals from Ireland who have emerged as inspiring leaders of ACCA. People like our president, Orla Collins, and Ronnie Patton our vice president. Their success and example make it easier for others to follow, and I’m really happy that I’m joining a few other Irish colleagues, including Michelle Hourican and Brendan Sheehan on Council to continue that tradition representing ACCA members and future members not just in Ireland but all over the world.’

Perfect education

Philip first found his passion for finance as a young trainee in a Big Four firm, where he worked in a tiny department which served small businesses in Ireland.

‘It was a wonderful experience, and a perfect education in what it means to run a business,’ said Philip.

‘We were working with the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers. All these small, family businesses which were at the heart of their communities. The work was incredibly varied, and it was miles away from theoretical accountancy and textbooks. Farmers would send in cardboard boxes stuffed with receipts and invoices, and often they’d carry the physical evidence of animal husbandry on them, if I can put it like that. You could literally smell the reality of what it means to run a small business. 

‘In that job I learned that it is so important to build personal connections, and to remember that this business is about people. That is the part of our profession that I love. Ultimately it is about helping people and making a contribution to the community.’

That taste of how finance can play a positive part in people’s lives inspired him to study with ACCA.

"Come on Ahane – the spuds are boiling!"

It was seen as a rite of passage if you had ambition, and it was a natural fit for me for where I wanted to go and for what I wanted to do,’ he said. ‘ACCA set out a pathway, and I was very happy to follow it.’

Philip carries the values of community into his life away from work, where he volunteers as a Gaelic Football coach at the local Ahane Gaelic Athletics Association.

The club is famous in Ireland for its battle-cry: ‘Come on Ahane – the spuds are boiling!’

‘Limerick is a sports mad city, and I love working with the kids,’ said Philip. 

‘It’s so satisfying giving something back to the community, and in winter it gets you out in the wind and the rain and the fresh air when you’d otherwise be stuck inside. I just love it, and my three boys do too.’