David Swinburne - FitzGerald Legal & Advisory, Cork

David Swinburne, head of advisory practice, Fitzgerald Legal & Advisory, says the world of work goes beyond just commercial gain.

ADVISING businesses at all stages of their life cycle from start-up to growth phase, David Swinburne has held senior roles with KPMG and McStay Luby chartered accountants, working on transactions and assignments for clients across a wide range of sectors. “I advise businesses from start up to growth phase, M&A and transaction services for those buying or selling, helping those that face challenges and working with them to source sustainable solutions to allow them re-structure and get back on track again,” he explains. “With the economy in growth phase again I am working with ambitious businesses guiding and supporting them in reaching their potential. “I work with entities on drafting business plans and sourcing finance for growth, looking at how they operate and challenging their work practices and management teams on how new efficiencies and economies of scale can be achieved.”

Holding a BComm from NUIG and a Masters in Accounting from UCD, he is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland and has experience in a variety of sectors including hospitality and leisure, manufacturing, retail, professional and financial services, healthcare, agriculture, logistics and distribution, property and engineering.

 “With challenges there are opportunities and I am very much looking forward to collaborating with colleagues to pitch for and win work in a growing market. We have already seen this so far this year when we successfully tendered for work from an international production company setting up a facility in the Cork region.”

He agrees that the professions of accountant and solicitor are becoming ever more entwined in the complex world of modern business: “The business world is constantly evolving which places greater focus on professional services firms like ourselves to provide robust commercial solutions to the challenges and opportunities that businesses are faced with on a daily basis. The work of both professions is very much transaction based and our working together as one allows us to formulate a tailor-made commercial solution.”

While the vast and growing store of information found on the internet can provide data and general enlightenment, it is no substitute for personal attention and the specific needs of clients: “Access to online information can cause clients confusion to the extent that they can end up not seeing the wood for the trees. While information available online in some instances can help educate clients on the extent of the complexities involved, they still need the expert advice and guidance to address their own particular scenario and set of circumstances. “No two situations are the same and one size certainly does not fit all,” he adds.

Having experience of two decades’ worth of across a very broad range of sectors, David readily admits to having a favoured area of expertise: “Like most Irish people, I like property. There is something in our blood when it comes to property. However, all business and industries are powered by people, so you need to be adaptable and flexible to respond to clients’ needs regardless of what sector they operate in.”

He notes the importance of being aware of one’s personal limitations in certain instances and the need to occasionally call upon collegial expertise. “It is very important to be aware of your limits and draft in additional industry-specific expertise if a matter becomes very complex. Over my career, I have built up an extensive ‘little red book’ of people that I have partnered with to provide clients with the best solutions as, in my experience, very often it is a team effort that is required to achieve the best outcome.”

In an environment where delicate negotiations are frequent, he underlines the critical importance of emotional intelligence as part and parcel of an advisor’s requirements. “I spend a lot of time working with indigenous Irish owned businesses which very often have a significant family element to them. They can be emotionally attached to the business and you need to acknowledge and appreciate this. With all advisory assignments, you want to bring those that have engaged you on a journey, but in order to do that that you need to start with their journey. By doing so you will get to a resolution much quicker. How you communicate directly effects how well your advice will be received,” he adds.

He lists trust as chief amongst the essential credentials required as a head of the Advisory Practice. “You need to have real creditability both internally within your own firm and among all your colleagues, wherever they fit in the organisation, coupled with creditability in the marketplace. This takes time and patience to build. You have to have your finger on the pulse and be continually open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Above all you have to be your own person and not afraid to make the hard decision or take the leap that is in the best interests of those around you.”

In a busy Cork city and region where the combined vision of skyline cranes, increased traffic and general business activity point to a renewed growth and expansion, David Swinburne admits to having an optimistic outlook for the years ahead. “Over the last 12 to 18 months we’ve seen phrases such as ‘a city rising is a beautiful thing’ and campaigns like ‘We are Cork’, and it is incumbent on all of us in both the private and public sectors across all industries and disciplines to continue to work together. If we do, then there will be rewards for all of us.”

Cork has the core ingredients to allow the region to continue to prosper and develop, he believes: “We have world class third level institutions that generate the talent required by businesses to compete on a global scale. Our road and rail networks have improved and investment continues to be made in this infrastructure. The addition of routes to and from Cork airport also makes the Cork region more accessible and attractive to our European and our international business partners.

 “The world of work now goes beyond just commercial gain. There is an onus on all of us to conduct business in such a way that it is has a long-term sustainable benefit to society at large as evidenced by the growing importance of corporate social responsibility.”


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