Ulster Business sits down with Inspired to discuss saving your business money

Inspired Corporate Advisory was set up to help businesses of all shapes and sizes save money and utilise the host of UK tax incentives available to them – and it did so in the middle of a global pandemic. Ulster Business speaks to co-founder Eugene O’Neill about its specialism in the field, working with giants of industry and its rapid growth and expansion while maintaining that personal touch.

Going out and setting up an inventive new business is a brave step in itself.

But for the founders of Inspired, establishing their now burgeoning specialist business in the middle of a pandemic shows just how confident and assertive the tax and accountancy experts are.

And in the space of little over a year, Inspired has grown into a team of more than 20, and works with giants of industry across several sectors here – from technology, to manufacturing and construction.

Inspired is a UK tax incentives provider located in Cookstown, Belfast and London.

It’s dedicated to helping clients secure optimum financial benefits through UK tax incentives, across a range of areas, including R&D tax credits, Capital Allowances, Land Remediation Relief and Patent Box.

The company was co-founded in 2020 by Eugene O’Neill, Colm Cavanagh and just this year they were joined by Michael Heinicke, another experienced tax director.

“We had a great opportunity,” Eugene tells Ulster Business. “I’d been thinking about doing something like this for ourselves, for some time. The business has now accelerated so quickly.

“Having previously worked with Colm it made sense to set up the business together given our shared vision for success.

“From my own experience in leading tax incentives teams within two large accounting practices, I found the red tape frustrating – having to jump through hoops before actually contacting a potential client. Starting our own business meant we could do it our way, delivering excellence to clients without excessive formalities.”

Inspired assists firms from across the sectors in leveraging the UK tax incentives which are available to them, and as a result, helps them to lower their tax bills and ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible.

“We get clients to leverage the tax incentives which are available in the tax legislation, and we make sure that they pay the right amount of tax,” Eugene says.

“If they are involved in innovation, patents or commercial property, for example, we ensure that they are capturing the tax relief which is available to them.”

And with increasing levels of corporation tax around the corner – with the UK rate rising to 25% for company profits of more than £250,000 – utilising the raft of incentives has never been more important for businesses across all industries.

“We have been involved in this area for some time. Tax incentives have always been important, especially for private businesses,” Michael Heinicke says.

“Aside from the level of profit, the main thing that can influence how much tax a company pays are the tax incentives and reliefs that it claims. There is so much available for companies now and It’s about being able to leverage that and help businesses benefit from using what is on offer.”

Eugene says: “For domestic businesses, what else can reduce a company’s effective tax rate to as low as say 5%? Well, nothing really can really. It’s clear as day where businesses need to be investing their energy in relation to taxation.”

And despite operating for a relatively short space of time, Inspired is already working with some of Northern Ireland’s biggest and best.

“We have had competitive tenders with ‘Big Four’ practices for firms such as Lagan Specialist Contracting Group,” Eugene says. “They were very happy with the approach we were taking and the personal touch we were offering, and have since re-engaged with us. We have been able to significantly increase the firm’s savings.”

Inspired is able to offer customers the best of both worlds – decades worth of combined experience, but also the scale and size whereby it can deliver a hands-on, personal touch.

“Michael and I are very experienced in this area and have been specialising for a long time,” Eugene says. “If you phone Inspired and want to speak to Eugene, or Michael, for example, then that’s who you’re going to get.”

Michael joined the firm this year, leaving behind his long-term senior role with a major accountancy practice.

“I always liked the idea of being involved in a company like this,” he says. “When Eugene, Colm and Sean started the business in 2020, looking from the outside in, I thought it looked like a really interesting opportunity with huge potential.

“Inspired is different, it is hugely client focused and the team spend virtually all of their day doing client work, or speaking to and meeting clients.

“It’s a simple model – delivering the right services to the right clients, doing it well and looking after the team. If you get that right, everything else looks after itself. I like the nimbleness of Inspired – there is a culture of having the thought and taking the action to do something about it. It’s positive and proactive.”

Eugene says: “Michael is an invaluable asset and I look forward to the team learning from his years of experience.”

So, what attracts some of our best and brightest businesses to Inspired, over a much larger rival with an international footprint?

For Eugene, it’s about the ability to review how a business operates, the hands-on experience, and being able to clearly show the huge savings which they are able to make.

“We are doing work with manufacturing giant Terex GB Limited, for example. We have looked and reviewed their activities, examined what their tax bill should be, based on their research and development – and that is what those incentives are there for – to evolve and encourage more R&D.

“As a result, we have been able to increase their tax savings by millions.”

And with the Covid-19 pandemic, as companies were forced to work in a less traditional and different manner, the company was able to accelerate due to the growing use of technology – allowing it to reach out and work with clients across the UK and Ireland.

“The ability to have a meeting with someone in London, then straight into a meeting with someone in Dublin means we have been able to accelerate our growth massively – building up clients without having all of that down time with travelling,” Eugene says. “We would have needed a much bigger team to deliver our services, pre-Covid.

“While this technology will never fully replace a face-to-face meeting for building client relationships, it does also provide that option of less travel time and cost for delivering work.”

And in the space of less than two years, Inspired has grown to a team of more than 20 staff, with plans to expand that further to around 30 over the next 12 months. Eugene says that organic growth has come about naturally, due to the increasing demand for its services.

“We are working with new clients every week,” he says. “As an agile business, we are able to make more connections and get to the person who understands the impact that tax incentives can have.”

Looking ahead, further expansion of the team remains on the cards, as well as the potential to branch out into different specialisations.

“We are building strong partnerships with local schools and universities which will help accelerate our plans to grow to 30 staff by the end of 2022, making us the biggest tax incentives provider in Northern Irelands, if not the island of Ireland,” Eugene says.

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