FDC scholarship with UCC creating future finance leaders
The Jack Murphy Scholarship programme provides 20 students with a €12,500 bursary each, and a placement with FDC Group. This article by Liam Dillon was originally published by Irish Examiner on December 17th 2021.
In an initiative that is aimed at helping direct the career path of several fortunate students, financial services firm FDC Group has collaborated with University College Cork to support a scholarship programme in Cork University Business School worth a total of €300,000.
The Jack Murphy Scholarship programme, now in its fourth year, will provide 20 students with a scholarship of €12,500 each, along with a guaranteed placement opportunity within the FDC Group.
“There are three elements to the scholarship that we would be very enthusiastic about, the first of which would be supporting our currents students’ research and bringing that research into FDC,” explains Liam Dillon, manager with FDC Group who specialises in financial management, planning and consulting across the agriculture, SME and corporate sectors.
“Secondly we would look at the Jack Murphy scholarship as a means of promoting the FDC Group within the UCC corridor, and to be recognised as a leading house of choice in the financial services area.”
FDC Group is ingrained in the Cork DNA, part of the region’s infrastructure since 1973 and headquartered on Wellington Road, just a short distance from UCC.
“We like to support our own, and to also promote ourselves within our own as well.”
Reaching out to the student body is central to the scholarship’s aims.
“It is a competitive market out there which offers a lot of opportunity for quality students coming out of college and we would like to see FDC as one of those opportunities graduates would like to follow up with in due course.”
The FDC (Farm Development Co-Op) story began in 1973 in the rural village of Dunmanway in West Cork when it was established by Jack Murphy, general manager.
Although the Group now employs more than 430 people across 39 different locations nationwide, it remains true to its core values of delivering a quality service and total business solution to clients.
Nurturing and mentoring the next generation
Currently in year four of a five-year partnership with UCC, FDC is delighted with how the scholarship is progressing.
“We see ourselves as a choice of call location for graduates, whether that be for advice, consultation or career advancement. We will have supported 20 UCC students to the tune of €300,000 at the completion of the five-year programme.”
Students coming into FDC will become part of the firm’s operations, working with staff and partaking of the internal mentor programme and getting the opportunity of advancing within the business.
“We don’t just see it as just a scholarship, but more as a way of advancing students’ ambitions in tandem with FDC.”
In effect, the Jack Murphy scholarship works two ways — supporting the UCC body in providing the funding and the structure.
“These students are also supporting us, they are effectively the future of our industry and we look to be challenged by them,” Mr Dillon adds.
FDC Group is now placed within the top 10 accountancy firms in Ireland. As advisors of choice in rural Ireland across a diverse client base of farmers, SMEs, family businesses, commercial agribusiness, self-employed professionals and contractors.
The firm’s strength and depth is spread across the company’s key services: Accounting, Tax and Legal, Financial Services, Agri Consultancy, Management Accounting, Advisory, Banking, Audit, Training and Client Business IT Solutions.
“The Jack Murphy scholarship has evolved over its four years, both in terms of its learning and development within FDC and as a scholarship of choice for students within UCC.”
The firm had been impressed with the high standard of recipients and the contributions each has made during their placements within the company.
“FDC Group is delighted to support these students in their studies with UCC and offer them the opportunity to combine their theoretical knowledge with real-life practical experience while serving the business community. Our relationship with UCC has made an immense contribution to the culture of innovation and growth within the Group.”
Central to mentoring the next generation is FDC’s continued support of the students with its Co-operative Education (Co-op) work placement programme.
FDC recognises that this is a core element of the student experience and the company likes to ensure students are exposed to the world of work, with its differing environments, demands and expectations.
“While serving our clients is central to our success, the Co-op programme allows us to integrate the student into the client-centric environment and delivery a fully rounded experiential program both for the student and ourselves,” said Liam Dillon.
“At FDC, we like to think that we give students the opportunity to develop and apply a range of understandings and competencies that they could not acquire in either single context.”
Client-driven and client-serving for 50 years
FDC Group has also launched a new annual scholarship programme with University College Dublin, available to students enrolled on the MSc in Agricultural Extension and Innovation programme at one of the college’s top-performing schools; the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.
The scholarships valued at €50,000 per annum were awarded to four students enrolled on the MSc in Agricultural Extension and Innovation programme.
“This supports FDC’s agricultural consultancy side of the business,” Mr Dillon explains. “FDC at its grassroots is a financial services company with a client base spread all across rural Ireland, which is expressed through our company tagline — ‘Leading Financial Services Business in Rural Ireland’.
“But we need to grow beyond that as well, and this scholarship supports the full array of competencies and skillset of the students there.”
FDC Group is unique in being a co-operative which is owned by its membership.
“FDC is a member-driven organisation, which is unique in that our members are our clients. We are accountable to our clients, as well as serving them.”
Given that FDC will celebrate its milestone of being in business a half-century in 2023, the firm’s continued vibrancy owes much to its founder, Jack Murphy.
As a business that is focused in on client values, FDC’s greatest marketing tool is client testimonials. With 39 offices and over 400 consultants and 25000 clients spread throughout the country, the firm opened a Dublin office last July.
“This is a new departure for FDC, and is a reflection of our versatility in how we challenge the future. That future is very much about Europe and how we position ourselves for the enormous opportunities available there over the coming years. Having a Dublin office allows us more latitude with regard to our professional services in the dynamic days ahead.”