Meet the Team - Head of Tax, Catriona Coady and Head of Investment Strategy, Joe Prendergast

As one of Ireland’s leading financial services firms, Goodbody has and will always be a people business. Building long term client relationships supported by expert advice is at the heart of what we do – recruiting and retaining great people is vital to our success. We are committed to investing in our staff to support and grow their careers.

Here you can get know our experts a little better – from their position at Goodbody and how they work with clients to their favourite podcasts and TV series, we invite you to Meet the Team. 

Tell us about your positions at Goodbody and how long have you been working here?

Catriona: I have been working at Goodbody for eight years. My role involves advising individuals, families, and family businesses on their strategic wealth, tax, and legacy goals. This is a very interesting broad role, covering succession planning, business exit readiness, wealth management and the specialist advice that family businesses require such as business governance and the governance of the family itself. 

Joe: I joined Goodbody in 2019 as a Strategic Advisor across the firm. Over time, my role has evolved to focus almost entirely on Investment Strategy within Wealth Management, where I guide and manage the investment process, asset allocation and portfolio construction for our clients.  

How do you work together at Goodbody? 

Catriona: We bring a coordinated approach to our clients’ overall investment strategy and wealth goals. We do this throughout a client’s entire wealth journey ensuring that as different life events or decisions unfold, they are equipped with the right advice. That could be in relation to establishing a family investment vehicle post business exit, relocating to live abroad, ensuring adequate funds/liquidity in retirement, legal requirements such as family charters, shareholders agreements, trusts and will drafting. This often involves a multi-disciplinary approach meaning that we work with tax and legal advisors, be they the client’s existing advisors or we advise them when there is need for such specialist advice.

How do you typically work with clients? 

Catriona: At the start of a client engagement, we gather information regarding their financial affairs and determine what assistance they specifically need. The outcome of this initial engagement can be the production of an estate or wealth plan setting out the areas to focus on, a set of recommendations and next steps to take. We then work the with the client to implement these recommendations and revisit their financial affairs on an ongoing basis. Our work may also involve an investment solution tailored to their specific needs such as the need for liquidity and/or tax efficiency. This is where Joe comes in.

Joe: The investment solution involves communicating sometimes complex concepts and ideas in a simple and impactful way, often to an audience with a wide range of knowledge and experience. Managing finances and making the right decisions can be tough, so it’s important to try to bring a clear and consistent framework to these discussions.  

What do clients ask you about the most? 

Catriona: Tax! It touches off every aspect of a client’s wealth planning. However, family dynamics and succession planning are also top of clients’ minds.

Joe: From an investment perspective, most questions are predictably around the broad equity market and where it’s headed. Sadly, that’s not so predictable.  

Have you noticed any current trends with clients? 

Catriona: In the context of succession planning, a desire to minimise disputes among family members and to, as far as possible, not leave children with a large unplanned for tax bill. This has resulted in more open communication, a desire for more governance structures where family businesses are involved, and more lifetime wealth planning being undertaken.  

Joe: Investors have become more focused on preservation of capital as a key objective, as the markets have been notably volatile since the Covid-19 pandemic.  Inflation has also been a key theme, although less so in recent months. Overall, I would say that the emphasis has shifted from a pure focus on growth to real preservation of capital. Digital assets are still a theme of discussion, but dramatically less so now than in recent years. Boring now seems to be better.  

What is your favourite part of your job? 

Catriona: Bringing a comprehensive and cohesive wealth and investment solutions service to clients.  

Joe: I like the perpetual challenge. There’s so much to learn every day, but you need to understand that there is no crystal ball, and the right answer is not whether the market is going up or down, but rather what is the right strategy to deal with the prevailing circumstances and the investment objectives. 

What are your favourite resources that you use for your job?  

Catriona: TaxFind, the Irish Tax Institute research tool, STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) organisation and a wide network of specialists who can assist when a client’s affairs require them.

Joe: In addition to the great human intellectual capital across our Investment Strategy team, I like to use lateral thinking and historical data to generate ideas and build scenarios which I believe are very helpful in decision making.  An open mind is really important to avoid being herded by the consensus. 

What are you currently watching?

Catriona: The Founder, a film based on the true story of Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, a salesman who saw the potential in a burger operation run by brothers Mac and Dick McDonald. 

Joe: I am a big fan of documentaries on many topics. I am currently enjoying The Man Who Played with Fire, a docudrama about the tragic assassination of Olof Palme in 1986. It’s based on ten years of research by Swedish author Stieg Larsson which was discovered in a warehouse after his death. 

A book you really enjoyed…

Joe: Thomas Picketty’s Capital looks like a very thick and boring financial book, but it is a great read full of rich history and tragedy. I read it a long time ago, but the book I most enjoyed reading in my life is Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes.

Inspiring story? 

Catriona: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the English mechanical and civil engineer born in 1806. He’s best known as the designer of the Great Western Railway and was a prominent figure during the Industrial Revolution. I find it interesting that someone who achieved what he did was wracked with self-doubt.  

Thought provoking film…

Catriona: The Banshees of Inisherin, with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, written and directed by Martin McDonagh. 

How do you think the financial services industry has changed? In what ways do you think it needs to change in the future?

Catriona: In my role, the holistic approach to a client’s financial affairs has been a very welcome change for the industry. In the future, I think further digitisation is essential and innovation is needed in this area to bring financial solutions to clients in real-time but like Joe, I think despite the need for more technology, it is an industry that requires people interaction. 

Joe: Traditional financial services are overly complex and only slowly evolving. There are challenges from many sides, but in reality the core business has not changed dramatically in decades. In the future, I would expect greater transparency and ever-easier access to a wide array of financial instruments, but technology has not come close to providing solutions for the basic uncertainties of the market and the often highly personalised needs of the individual client. Technology is empowering, but it’s still a people business.

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