Posted on Wednesday 3 October 2018 by Ulster Business


Des Kelly, Catherine Martin and Michael Drumm

Michael Drumm has spent his entire professional career training and progressing up through top accountancy and business advisory practice CavanaghKelly.

In the last 10 years he’s been involved in almost every department within the practice, working across audit and accounts, tax and advisory.

Now, one of three partners in the practice – alongside Des Kelly and Catherine Martin – he began his career as a trainee, primarily within audit, and worked there until 2011.

“In 2011, I  moved across to our restructuring department. It would have been an extremely busy department at that time following the financial crisis in 2008 but it provided invaluable experience” he said.

And while the workload in that area of the business increased in the months and years following the recession, Michael said an overwhelming majority of the CavanaghKelly core client base were able to successfully trade their way through this tough period.

Following a busy three year period he then joined the corporate finance team as a manager, then onto a more senior role, before joining as a partner this year – heading up CavanaghKelly’s advisory offering.

A Queen’s University graduate, who studied law and accountancy, Michael is also a licensed insolvency practitioner.

“I now lead our advisory offering. We deliver a wide-range of advisory engagements,” Michael said.

“This includes mergers and acquisitions, disposals, fundraising, business planning, strategic business development, forensic accounting and debt advisory.”

And in the last 24 months, the firm has advised on over 15 M&A deals, with a transactional value of around £80m.

“Our track record in adding value to businesses and transactions across Northern Ireland can be evidenced by the growth across our own practice the last few years which has largely developed from word of mouth referrals from current clients” he said.

“Our advisory pipeline of engagements remains strong whilst our audit and accounts division is achieving year-on-year growth. We’re very pleased with the impact and effort of management team and staff across the practice”.

And what does the practice offer its clients that sets them apart from the others? Michael says it’s the ability to provide quality specialist advice at a competitive fee level which includes regular direct contact with partners and senior management across the practice.

“We emphasise getting to know our clients so we’re best placed to guide and support. It’s important to know what drives them, their aspirations, their ethos. We want to build long-term relationships so we can understand their business and identify opportunities.”

“We focus on making a real difference to our clients, to assist them to grow and flourish.”

The practice operates across all sectors but, has a particularly strong presence in retail, agri-food, construction, manufacturing and engineering.

And while there remain significant challenges for Northern Ireland businesses, with political instability and Brexit around the corner, Michael says CavanaghKelly is well-placed to deal with the challenges of cross-border business.

“We have clients which operate out of the south, and we have a number of chartered tax advisors who are qualified in the Republic of Ireland – so we are well positioned to deal with the challenges of Brexit.”

Despite the above concerns, there remains positive activity in the marketplace. “We’re finding that deal and banking transactional activity is still reasonably strong, despite Brexit and the issues at Stormont,” Michael said.

“In relation to the current funding environment, there is definitely appetite for investment in Northern Ireland. There has been an expansion in funding providers in the market in recent times meaning there is now good availability of capital across most sectors, and this represents a strong opportunity for businesses.

“We’ve developed close relationships with these investors and funders and regularly act for our clients in identifying opportunities whether it be through investment, expansion or sale”.


As one of Northern Ireland’s leading independent accountancy and business advisory practices, CavanaghKelly was formed in 2003 when Sean Cavanagh and Des Kelly merged their individual businesses.

“The marriage was a good example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts,” Sean Cavanagh, chairman of the practice, says.

For CavanaghKelly, it’s the people which make the business a success. It currently employs more than 70 staff across its offices – which includes Omagh, Dungannon and Enniskillen – with business split across audit and accounts, tax and advisory.

“We are a training practice as well, and we invest heavily in our employees. It’s about investing in people, and focusing on their growth, and health and well-being.”

CavanaghKelly’s key values remain central to its culture: commitment to the quality of advice and dedicated services to clients. They work to ensure that all employees love what they do and to create an environment in which they can excel.


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