EFAA Article: The role of small‑ and medium‑sized practices in the sustainable transition of SMEs

By Esther Ortiz (EFAA Special Advisor), Salvador Marín and Paul Thompson

European and global economies are committed to accelerating their sustainable transition. An important goal in realising this transition is to get robust corporate sustainability reporting. In this way, this paper focuses on the recent European developments setting new legislation and standards. Specifically, a survey questionnaire from a focus group of accounting experts examines the future role of small- and medium-sized accountancy practices (SMPs) in enabling this transition. The experts are all members of the European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (EFAA). With its focus on SMPs, this paper performs a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the responses obtained. Finally, it explores the influence of years of experience on the practices´ opinions. The findings indicate that SMPs are ready to fulfil this emerging role, which will demand significant reskilling. Also, the more experienced the SMPs, the more likely small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are to seek their advice, are more conscious about sustainability practices, and advise their SME clients accordingly. As a theoretical contribution, this manuscript fills a noticeable gap in the research literature. The background mainly focuses on large companies and lacks a study of the essential role SMPs can play in the European sustainability landscape. As a practical contribution, the need for the support of professional accountancy organisations to help SMPs in this significant reskilling can be highlighted.

Read the full article here.

Sustainability Reporting: A Gateway to Green Profit – Ideas Powered for business Talks with EFAA for SMEs

In this brief video, we explain, together with EUIPO, that sustainability reports are key for businesses that seek to showcase their environmental and social impact. We also stress that these reports attract customers and investors too, given that environmental and social responsibility is a monetisable resource. Similarly, accountants also embrace intellectual property, and are in certain cases a first source of basic IP advice.

It is no wonder that the latest Green EU trade marks – 2022 update shows an increase of registered ‘green’ trade marks over recent years, an increase that is set to continue.

Watch the EUIPO and EFAA for SMEs short video and find out all you need to know about sustainability reporting. Make sure you activate the subtitles in your language of choice!

EFAA for SMEs is an Ideas Powered for business network member.

EFAA Comments on Draft ESRS Delegated Act

EFAA for SMEs appreciates the opportunity to comment on the European Commission (EC) Consultation on the Draft ESRS Delegated Act.

While the four week consultation period has presented us significant challenges in compiling a robust response, a challenge exacerbated by the extent of the many changes the EC has made to the draft standards it received from EFRAG, we fully recognize the EC has good justification for this. We strongly support the timely and robust development and implementation of the ESRS. And we strongly support the ECs efforts to simplify this first set of ESRS and EFRAGs timely development of implementation guidance. We believe the EC has struck a reasonable balance between ambition and pragmatism. Notwithstanding our support, we continue to have concerns about the indirect impact of the ESRS on non-listed SMEs. This impact is primarily the consequence of applying impact materiality through value chain reporting. We believe this will impede the Commissions desire to reduce the reporting burden on companies, especially SMEs, by 25%. Accordingly, we question whether there is a need for more support for non-listed SMEs that are in the value chain of in scope companies. We elaborate on these concerns and the potential additional action and support to address them below. We recognize that non-listed SMEs are instrumental to the timely sustainable transition of the EU economy and but that they need help and time if they are to play their full part in this transition.

Here is our feedback in full.

We are Hiring: Part-Time Communication and Event Assistant

EFAA for SMEs is looking to recruit a part-time (65%) assistant with a keen interest in EU affairs, communication and event management who is a quick learner, able to understand technical matters and eager to contribute to EFAA’s mission and become a fully-integrated member of the team.
EFAA’s work is focused on the needs of small- and medium-sized accountants and auditors (SMPs) as well as on the interest of their clients, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the context of today’s fast changing European and international environment.

The successful candidate will answer to the Head of Secretariat and Public Affairs and will be expected to :
• Support communication activities, including the planning, creation, review and testing of social media and web content, drafting emails and reviewing the layout and quality of documents;
• Assist with the organisation and running of events, including planning, logistics, event promotion, invitations, communication with partners and attendees, technical coordination and after-event follow-up / feedback;
• Contribute to EU monitoring, research and reporting;
• Manage the calendar and agenda: schedule calls and meetings, book venues, help solve agenda conflicts, etc..
• Attend meetings, take minutes and ensure follow-up on the action points discussed.

Profile:
• An academic background, and/or significant professional experience in, one or more of the following: communications, event management, office management , business, marketing;
• Excellent command of oral and written English and of at least one other EU language;
• Good command of Office365 applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.); experience also with WordPress, Canva and Mailchimp would be a plus;
• Excellent organizational skills, a keen eye for detail and accuracy;
• A real team player, proactive, communicative and polite with a positive personality, a strong sense of responsibility and the drive to get things done together;
• Able to adapt to changing circumstances, resistant to stress;
• Good communication skills.

Conditions:
The vacancy is a 65% permanent contract under Belgian law.
The position is based in Brussels. Applicants must have the right to work in Belgium.
EFAA offers a competitive salary package consisting of a monthly salary, lunch tickets and commuting reimbursement.

Contact:
To apply, please send your CV, motivation letter, including salary expectations, to secretariat@efaa.com with the referral “Part-Time Communication and Event Assistant”. Interviews are conducted on a rolling basis, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
Please ensure all requested documents are added to your application.

EFAA Comments on EC Proposal of Reducing Reporting Requirements by 25%

While speaking at the European Parliament Plenary on the preparation of the European Council meeting of 23-24 March 2023, President von der Leyen explicitly mentioned that by the autumn 2023 the EC will put forward concrete proposals to simplify reporting requirements to reduce them by 25%. This statement was reinforced by Commissioner McGuinness during the opening address given at the launch of 2023 PwC CEO Report where she also explicitly invited EFRAG to focus its attention on providing additional guidance for companies to apply the first set of horizontal standards as well as to prioritise its efforts on that first set of horizontal standards over preparatory work for the sector standards.

Read EFAA comments here.

Salvador Marín re-elected EFAA President, Johan De Coster, Gerard van IJzendoorn, Farouk Boulbahri and Ciprian Teodor Mihăilescu elected Board members

At its 2023 Annual General Meeting of 26 May, the European Federation of Accountants for SMEs (EFAA) re-elected Salvador Marín as EFAA President for a four-year term. Johan De Coster (ITAA, Belgium) and Gerard van IJzendoorn (NBA, the Netherlands) were confirmed as EFAA Board members. Farouk Boulbahri (CNOEC, France) and Ciprian Teodor Mihăilescu (CAFR, Romania) were unanimously elected Board members.

Marín was nominated by Consejo General de Economistas (CGE) and gained the unanimous support of EFAA’s member organisations. Marin’s has been EFAA President since June 2019.

Marín said: “EFAA for SMEs has in recent years increased its fundamental role in making the voice of SMPs and SMEs heard loud and clear on the most important issues: sustainability for SMPs and SMEs, digitalisation, auditing of less complex entities, financial reporting for SMEs, talent retention, SAFE, early warning and other accounting, auditing and tax issues that interest us. With the support of our members and proper coordination, we have undoubtedly been able to consolidate the leadership and representativeness of our profession in our field of action and will continue in this line. We also keep our doors open to all national PAOs wishing to join EFAA’s great family: each year our membership keeps increasing, because it is clear that our members are the main advisors to SMEs and that it is very important to share experience and best practice as well as to properly present them to the different interest groups. In summary, EFAA for SMEs, as the doyen organisation in the EU after 30 years of work and leadership, will continue to do its utmost to help our SMEs to grow, gain visibility and be heard. I look forward to working tirelessly with the EFAA members, staff and Board so that EFAA can continue to provide great service and support to its members, to SMEs and to our profession.”

The partially renewed EFAA Board will keep working to strengthen the role EFAA plays as the voice of accountants working in SMEs and SMPs in Europe.

In the picture: Representatives attending the EFAA Annual General Meeting in Lisbon on 26 May 2023

EFAA Publishes Guidance for SMPs on Sustainability Reporting Assurance

This publication follows the Guidance Sustainability Reporting: How SMPs Can Build the Capacity to Support SMEs published in December 2022. EFAA for SMEs continues its commitment to helping small- and medium-sized accountancy practices (SMPs) play a key role in achieving the sustainable transition of the European economy.

This content is reserved for registered Members only. To access, please login with your registered credentials. For more information, please contact us at secretariat@efaa.com.

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We explain how the landscape is fast evolving and how significant new reporting requirements, and the limited time to get ready for them, demand that SMPs and SMEs prepare now for their implementation and indirect effects.

Finally, we share useful tips on how SMPs can get ready to provide sustainability reporting assurance for their clients, in particular SMEs.

The guide is also available in Portuguese.

EFAA Publishes Guidance for SMPs on Sustainability Reporting

EFAA for SMEs is committed to helping SMPs play a key role in achieving the sustainable transition of the European economy.

In July 2021, we issued a Call to Action: SMPs Supporting Creation of the Sustainable Economy to SMPs and their professional bodies.

This content is reserved for registered Members only. To access the guidance to help SMPs fulfil this role, please login with your registered credentials. For more information, please contact us at secretariat@efaa.com.

This guide offers suggestions on how SMPs can best respond to the rapid emergence of sustainability reporting. The guide explains how the landscape is fast evolving and how significant new reporting requirements, and the limited time to get ready for them, demand that SMPs and SMEs prepare now for their implementation. The guide includes useful tips on how SMPs can get ready to prepare sustainability reports for their SME clients.

The guide is also available in French, German, Romanian and Spanish.

EFAA Publishes Summary of Key Policy Positions and Recommendations 2022

SMEs are crucial to the future economic and social prosperity and stability of Europe as well as the sustainable transition of the EU economy and society. Due to their limited resources and technical accounting and finance expertise they rely heavily on external support. SMPs often play this vital role in supporting SMEs through the provision of a range of high-quality professional services. Accordingly, EFAA has published ‘EFAA Key Positions and Recommendations’. This publication summarizes the vital role SMPs play supporting SMEs and then goes on to outline EFAA’s key positions and recommendations to policy makers and PAOs, such as EFAA member organisations, to help SMPs better fulfil this role. The publication, which supersedes one published in 2020, does not present any newly formed positions but summarizes existing positions.