Cunningham & Co Accountants, run by Darren and Regina Cunningham, were presented with the bronze award in the Best in Customer Service category by national broadcaster Matt Cooper at a lavish ceremony in the Mansion House, Dublin last week.
And, for Regina, the award was recognition of the firm's commitment to its customers. 'We're all about family values, it's always been that way,' she said. 'Every business that comes in to us, they have a family of their own, and all the financial commitments that come with that. And we understand that.'
After setting up the business in the pre-recession years, Regina and Darren witnessed the devastating impact of the economic downturn on their customers. However, having built up personal relationships with many of those customers, they extended their support to those in trouble.
On foot of that experience, the siblings set up The Phoenix Programme, a pilot programme targeted at start-up businesses during the recession which provided practical support and mentoring for the first six months of a new business. 'Accounting firms can often be frightening places. We put together this programme to promote start ups, to give them support with bookkeeping systems and administration advice in an effort to give them a solid foundation from the beginning. It assisted a lot of people by helping them recognise the pitfalls, the things to look out for in the early stages of starting a business.' Regina said.
The firm was chosen by Energia as a suitable candidate for this year's Family Business Awards. 'We actually received an email inviting us to apply and we submitted our application, from that we were shortlisted as a finalist. We had no idea we were going to win an award beforehand so it was a very welcome surprise'.
In the wake of their success, which follows on from their nomination in the Small Practise of the Year category in last year's Irish Accountancy Awards, Regina said, 'We're small in comparison to some other firms, there's plenty of good accountancy firms out there. But what makes us different is our family values and our genuine interest in our clients and their business success "