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60 seconds with John Molloy on Business and Finance, Oomph.ie

.Business and Finance interviews John Molloy, Managing Director, Oomph.ie, providing competitively-priced life assurance and advice on running a business.

What was your first job?

While in college, my first temporary job was a part-time barman in The Tuning Fork in Rathfarnham (sadly recently demolished). My first full-time job was an Account Manager in Norwich Union Insurance, Dún Laoghaire in 1988.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Giving up smoking.

In three words or less, how do you define success?

Contentment, freedom and happiness.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Learn from your competitors, but never copy.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Even if we are on the right track, we will get run over if we just sit there.

If you could step into the shoes of one business person for a day, who would it be and why?

Charlie Munger, American financier and philanthropist, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and the low-key partner of Warren Buffet. If I could step into his shoes for a day it would lead to a lifetime of accrued knowledge.

What’s your motto?

I don’t have the power to make life ‘fair’, but I do have the power to make life joyful.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

To grow our online life assurance portal, www.oomph.ie, to the largest online independent provider of competitively-priced life assurance to families in the country by 2020.

To grow our Core Life Assurance, Pensions and Investment Business, Orca Financial Ltd to a €1,000,000 recurring annual income business by 2028, adding value through timely transparent financial advice to our clients nationwide through continued long-term relationships.

Even if we are on the right track, we will get run over if we just sit there.

Oomph.ie was set up to make purchasing life assurance an easy and convenient experience. Oomph helps attain the most competitive prices available from the main six providers of life assurance in Ireland. Business and finance are important, so why wouldn’t you buy a life insurance policy. Get your quote here

Beyond responsibility – on a sustainable path to the future

Zurich Insurance

We’re a responsible company. But that’s no longer enough. We need to do more to address the complexity and scale of challenges facing our modern world because the changes facing our world, and our industry, are evident everywhere. Why is being sustainable important? People are working longer, and conventional job models are giving way to the ‘gig’ economy. Digital technology is reshaping how we interact and do business, and the impacts of a changing climate could affect every person.

At Zurich, we are fortunate to have been helping customers adapt to, and thrive in a changing environment for nearly 150 years. Building on this proud legacy, we want to do more. Our goal is to be recognized as one of the world’s leading sustainable companies. To achieve this, we will increasingly focus our expertise and energy on the big challenges shaping our world. Here are three key areas we are focusing on being more sustainable:

Supporting a global workforce in transition

We already do a lot to support workers and people embarking on careers. Zurich helps young people to get a foot on the insurance career ladder through apprenticeship programs. We support youth empowerment. Zurich helps young people to learn computer coding skills. We sponser programs to prepare young people to join the workforce, and give our own employees opportunities. These to increase their knowledge and skills, and these are just some examples

However, we want to – and must – do even more. The way we work has changed dramatically. People are not only working longer, but the traditional career path is becoming less linear. While mobile technology and the internet have led to new ways of working, challenging employer-based benefits models. We are helping to support these trends while protecting individuals, and will increase our focus on ways to help people work and live better in the future.

Inspiring confidence in an increasingly digital society

The digital transformation is well advanced, and it is affecting people worldwide. Today, there are more mobile phone licenses on the planet than there are people. Devices are connected and ‘smart’, so we have established the Zurich Insurance Mobile Solutions company to ensure we make best use of all the opportunities. And we are working to contribute to improving cyber-security. Using ‘cognitive computing’ we have cut the time needed to process certain claims from nearly an hour down to just seconds. And we are helping to make our service offerings more personalized with geo-location technology that can ‘see’ and warn travelers if they are in situations where they may be at risk.

These trends offer enormous possibilities but also pose new risks. We need to be responsible in the way we work with and handle data. We are also exploring sophisticated new technologies that can help us make a significant difference to our customers by reducing risks, including fraud, by using complex technologies like blockchain. And we are also seeking ways to complement and support digital trends with a new generation of products and services.

Addressing the impacts of a changing climate

As an insurer we help others to lessen risk, including through our award-winning, collaborative approach to increasing flood resilience. We educate businesses, policymakers, communities and individuals about the implications of climate extremes. And we support positive change, for example, by applying a risk lens to controversial issues like thermal coal. Zurich has made strides to minimize its own impact on the environment. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2014, use renewable electricity and our new offices in Switzerland and the U.S. that set the standard for environmental performance.

Looking ahead, we are striving to be more sustainable, including in our investments. For example, we are aiming to double our impact investment portfolio to USD 5 billion. This is to avoid 5 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions and improve 5 million people’s lives on an annual basis. Climate change is a real concern, both to us and our customers, and we need to do everything in our power to understand its impacts and, where possible, help people, business and communities mitigate and adapt to such changes.

Still not enough

At its core, insurance has always focused on helping others overcome hardships, conquer new challenges or protect what’s important to them. For Zurich, that core purpose has been evident throughout our history. Today, we continue to fulfill our promises to customers by paying claims and helping millions of people to avoid or mitigate risks.

We at Zurich are keenly aware of the latest trends shaping individuals and society. Zurich actively seeks to be early adaptors, making best use of new technologies. We have the expertise, capability and spirit to contribute even more. We will do more because using our role as society’s risk experts to help society to adapt to the forces changing our world.

At Oomph, one of our insurance providers is Zurich. Get your free quote here.

Dividing up the spoils: The finances of divorce

Away from fraught emotion, equity and bank balances direct the dissolution of marriage 

Delicate balance: Did a spouse sacrifice work opportunities for their family and partner? Should they be expected to get back into the workforce if they took time out to raise a family? Ireland has one of the lowest divorce rates in Europe, but a recovering economy means that numbers will change. As couples take advantage of equity, this is more money in their bank accounts to fund the divorce. Do you know the finances of divorce?

In 2016, for example, the number of people who divorced rose by 18 per cent on the previous year. But if the partnership must end, what do you need to know?

Once their separation/divorce is finalised, many women – and increasingly some men – will be entitled to a financial settlement. While the vast majority of settlements are still paid by men to their former wives, the tide is slowly turning. Muriel Walls, partner with Walls and Toomey, notes a recent client where the wife was a serious earner. She brought in more than €250,000, while the man was earning about €60,000.

While courts are ostensibly gender-neutral, Walls points to some signs of inequity. Some lower-earning men faring worse in settlements than their female counterparts do. But, she also says the “fundamental difference” in these cases. It is often that women will have “sacrificed their career and prospects for the benefit of the family”. “And you don’t find that dynamic as often on the husband’s side.”

There will be an expectation from the courts that women who have stopped their careers, will go back to work once the marriage ends. “Someone coming in saying ‘I’ve three children and I don’t want to work’ doesn’t really cut it,” says Walls.

Spousal support

He means that spousal support is declining, although it can be reflected in the level of child support offered. For example, one spouse may offer to pay no spousal support but more in child support. “It effectively puts her in much the same financial situation and, from the husband’s point of view, costs the same,” notes Walls.

Typically, how much the settlement will be depends on a number of factors. Did a spouse, for example, sacrifice work opportunities for their family and partner? Should they be expected to get back into the workforce if they took time out to raise a family? People who settled during the recession might now want to come back to the courts to ask for more.

According to Walls, the amount of the settlement typically comes down to making sure there is proper provision in the event of a dependent spouse. Where assets may not be significant, typically they will be split 50:50. However, in cases where there might be a business, properties and investments for example, the split may favour one side.

“The assets might be worth €10 million but the wife won’t necessarily get €5 million. She might get €4 million,” notes Walls.

Given the change in economic circumstances, some people who reached a settlement in the dark days of the recession might now want to come back to the courts to ask for more. They are entitled to but, according to Walls, courts are not looking favourably on second applications. “If someone finalises something, unless there’s some extraordinary or unforeseen event, they’re stuck or bound by the constraints of the [original] deal,” she says.

If you weren’t as prudent as you should have been with your settlement, or your ex-spouse got a significant pay rise, you could not go back for more.

Hiding assets

While some may think it’s confined to an episode of The Good Wife, hiding assets does happen. “You’d be so surprised at how sneaky people can be,” Sarah McGurrin, co-founder of Orca Financial/Oomph.ie, says. This is why it’s important that both spouses are engaged with their finances not just at the end.

Banks won’t take maintenance payments into consideration when working out someone’s income. For many couples, their biggest asset is their home but keeping it isn’t always straightforward. As McGurrin notes, there are several options, including the remaining spouse buying the ex out. Others include selling it and both parties buying again or both spouses remaining in the home.

But, while there may often be one spouse who would like to remain in the family home with the children, depends on the finances. Whether or not they can do so will depend on the family’s finances – and whether or not they can get a mortgage if they need to borrow are important. “Will you have enough income to support a mortgage?” is a key question McGurrin asks, noting that banks won’t take maintenance payments into consideration when working out someone’s income. This, when combined with Central Bank mortgage lending rules, can make buying out a family home, or starting again, trickier.

Consider a couple who bought in 2006 at five times their income; their income has now shrunk because the wife works less, but their home is only edging out of negative equity. If they sell the house and split the proceeds they may not be left with very much. They will both need down-payments, as second-time buyers, of 20 per cent to buy again. Not only that, but the bank will now typically only lend them 3.5 times their income. This may not come to enough in urban areas like Dublin. “Maybe they’ll get €20-€30,000 each (from the house sale). This means they’re back to where they were in their mid-20s,” says Walls.

Child maintenance

And where a spouse wants to take sole ownership of the property, this too can run into problems. If they don’t have a strong income to back it is a problem. “The bank won’t increase their liability by letting one of the people on the mortgage off,” says McGurrin,. There can be ways around this. Given the change in economic circumstances, some people who reached a divorce settlement in the dark days of the recession might now want to come back to the courts to ask for more.

“You do hear of arrangements where the ex-spouse will reduce child maintenance and cover most of the mortgage so the other spouse can stay in the property,” she adds. Adding that some banks may also allow an interest-only period if repayments are too high.

One couple McGurrin has dealt with simply could not buy again. So one spouse is returning to his own family’s home, and the other is looking for social housing. This because neither could afford the mortgage themselves.

Age can also be a barrier to getting a new mortgage; if you’re 50 for example, you may only be able to borrow until you’re 65, which can make repayments expensive. If you are divorced or separated with children, you will once again be treated as an ordinary single person, except for the tax system, which offers single parents some relief.

First of all, single parents can apply for the single parent tax credit. Up until 2014, both parents could apply for this credit of €1,650 which reduces your tax bill by a welcome €31.73 a week. However, since then, only one parent – often the parent who has primary custody of the children – can claim it.

Single parents can also pay tax at the lower rate of 20 per cent on €4,000 more of earnings than a single person, as the lower rate band of €38,550 applies to them. However, to qualify for this, children need to be either under 18 or, if older, in full-time education. Another point to note is that you can’t be co-habiting if you’re going to receive this tax credit.

Other tax issues which can arise relate to transfer of assets. Typically these will be transferred ahead of the divorce date to ensure that neither capital acquisitions tax nor capital gains tax applies to any transfers.“ Most of adjustment orders tend to be for the wives,” says McGurrin, although she adds, “but I imagine as time goes on that will change”.

Pension adjustment order

After the house, pensions are often a couple’s other major financial asset, so agreeing a pension adjustment order needs to be done carefully and prudently. It’s an area McGurrin finds that the dependent spouse can fall behind in. “A lot of time, when it’s made, an ex-spouse will say ‘leave it where it is’,” she notes. But if you do this, and your spouse invests the funds unwisely and the fund is depleted, you will lose out.

In addition, the dependent spouse also won’t be able to access the pension until the other spouse retires. “The simplest way is that, once you get the PAO [pension adjustment order], establish your own independent pension and put it into your own name. Then from age 50, if it’s a retirement bond, you can access it yourself,” McGurrin advises.

And there’s something else to consider when it comes to pensions and Walls is very firm on the point. “If a wife gets 50 per cent of the husband’s pension, then that is 50 per cent of the pension to now – not 50 per cent of the pension he’ll get when retired.”

This can confuse some people, and it means that some people might leave themselves exposed to a penurious retirement if they don’t do the sums and start providing for their own pension, if needs be. You’re still liable for the entire loan, and the bank can still come after you for the half that’s not paid.

“What’s built up [in an ex-spouse’s pension] after the judicial separation doesn’t accrue to her,” Walls says. While a pension split will typically be of the order of 50:50, a court may give a dependent spouse 55 per cent in the event that the couple are approaching retirement, and won’t have enough time to provide for themselves. “But it can be very rare to get more than 50 per cent,” she adds. When you’re married, debts might be jointly owned. Don’t necessarily expect this to change after a separation or divorce. Any debts owned jointly may stay the same after the separation. “You’re still liable for the entire loan, and the bank can still come after you for the half that’s not paid,” says McGurrin. While financial settlements may split debt owed, institutions can still come after you if the other half isn’t being serviced.


Any maintenance payment received will be free of tax, but only if the spouses come to an agreement. If it’s as a result of a court order, tax, at the marginal rate will apply to maintenance paid to another spouse. Payments for children are tax exempt. This means that, when court ordered, the spouse making the payments can claim tax relief while the other spouse must pay tax.

It can be a “double-edged sword”, as McGurrin notes. If you want tax-free payments, then you could go with a voluntary agreement, but this isn’t certain. And with a court-ordered payment, there is tax owed, but it is fixed, and the party giving it can avail of tax relief on it, which may afford a greater payment.

And, of course, just because you’re no longer married doesn’t mean you no longer have an interest in their longevity.

“You have to have some form of insurance on the maintenance payments,” says McGurrin, adding that this will typically be a life insurance policy which will continue to pay out the maintenance payments in the event of the early death of the spouse paying them.

Get a life insurance quote from Oomph here.