Accountants And SMEs: Creating A Sustainable World
SME Magazine Singapore|Issue 42, 2021
For SME finance professionals, ‘sustainability’ is about achieving longevity. However, there is a confusion over different definitions of sustainability. They recognise the growing importance of tackling sustainability issues but lack the understanding of how doing this can be integrated into day-to-day practices within the finance function.
Jennifer Lee

There is fairly low awareness among SMEs of regulations and grants to support sustainable business and transformation to net zero. There is also a sense that grants are hard to access, and the information is not easy to obtain by wider audiences in the SME sector.

Furthermore, SMEs are concerned about the extra work required to start considering sustainability as part of their due diligence, due to the concern that the infrastructure (i.e. education and resources) is not in place to do so.

The financial benefits of running a sustainable business are clear for many. For SME finance professionals, especially, attracting new clients and aligning with clients’ expectations is a key benefit of running a business sustainably. The group also places great emphasis on employee well-being and retention, recognising that employees are increasingly looking for purposeful careers, according to a study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

At present, only 11% of SMEs surveyed have significant involvement in tackling climate change as part of their role. There is a strong sense that finance professionals do not currently believe they are well equipped to take on the task of tackling climate change.

Around half (51%) assert that sustainability issues are not the responsibility of the finance team. Although just over a quarter of finance professionals (26%) believe they lack the professional skills to tackle climate change, many are aware that a large proportion of their day-to-day skill set (such as analysis and reporting skills) could be leveraged to implement sustainable practices within their organisations.

More work could be done to ensure that these finance professionals receive the right training and support to become equipped to carry out financial reporting using sustainability metrics. The majority of virtual community participants are not using tools or applications to support their activities in the sustainability field beyond their typical accounting or finance analyses.

WHAT IS FINANCE ROLE IN SUSTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION?

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