How Accounting Firms Can Contribute to Sustainability

Rishmita Aich

Marketing Manager, QXAS UK

No doubt, 2020 has been dominated by the presence of COVID-19 and its impacts. However, we mustn’t disregard the problems that have remained unsolved for ages. Yes, we are talking about environmental problems here. The glaciers are still melting, air quality is still getting worse and ecosystems are still depleting.

As the world economy suffers from the pandemic, accounting firms have been pushed to move to the remote setup. While accountants were moving into their newborn remote setups, it occurred to them that they could do much more with this new way of working. It has given accountants an opportunity to reimagine their work setups and has propelled them to adopt long-lasting sustainable habits. Habits that help their firms grow and protect the environment as well.

Here we have listed down a few benefits that an accounting firm can reap by taking the sustainability route:

Perks of Being a Sustainable Accounting Firm

  • Increases Efficiency & Promotes Cost-effectiveness

One can experience greater operational efficiencies after implementing more sustainable business practices. The intent for better conservation and utilisation of resources in a more streamlined method leads to a decrease in costs and increase efficiency.

  • Improved Recruitment and Better Employee Retention

People intend to work with companies that stand for a cause. According to Adecco, an international HR company, 52% of employees are more willing to work with a firm that is environmentally aware. Employee recruitment and retention take fewer efforts for firms that adopt sustainability habits.

  • Healthier Clients Relationships

Choosing sustainable methods have an added advantage of not only being eco-friendly but people-friendly as well. Engaging with a socially responsible firm always gives the clients a better experience and builds stronger relationships.

  • Prepares Your Firm for Risks

Social & environmental risks can easily convert to financial risks. The pandemic is an example of the same. Keeping this interconnected relationship in mind, a sustainable approach can be helpful in managing contingencies arising in the future.

  • Enhances Brand Value

People are now more inclined towards engaging with firms that pay attention to sustainability. Being responsible for the environment is actually a good competitive strategy. It positions your practice as a socially responsible entity.

  • New Competitive Opportunities

Sustainability promotes greenery of two kinds- Monetary & Environmental. Making sustainability an integrated part of your business increases the possibility of generating new sources of revenue.

  • Attracts More Clients

Firms that regard the environment garner often receive higher consumer attraction. Clients prefer associating with green firms and be a part of their sustainability mission. It helps you get that competitive advantage.

  • More Room for Innovation

When a business evolves, it breeds innovation by updating technology, approaches and processes. When an accounting firm chooses to use sustainable methods, it drives technological and organisational change.

For example, Ernst & Young – Diegem, Belgium switched to 100 percent green energy by outfitting solar panels on the office property and adding a water recycling system to cool the building. Also, they added 800 movement sensors to regulate the temperature of individual rooms.

Towards a Greener Accounting Firm

Not one, but many accountants are keen on going sustainable. Here are some ways on how to convert your green dreams into reality:

Outsourcing is Your First Step to ‘Going Green’

Cost reduction is the strongest driver for accountants that outsource. From handling all the cumbersome procedural compliances of maintaining the books to payroll processing to filing tax returns, an offshore team saves you from all the grunt work. But what we miss out on noticing is that they also make you sustainable.

With dependable IT infrastructure, the entire collaboration takes place in the virtual space. From data collection to processing to creating reports, everything is digital. Not only meeting your sustainability goals, but accounting outsourcing also fills the gaps caused by technological inefficiencies and financial inadequacies.

Here’s are different ways of how outsourcing can help your firm become sustainable:

  • Saving for Sustainability

With the help of an outsourcing partner, you can build your own customised TechStack that aligns with your accounting needs. Outsourcing firms like QXAS can help in assembling a TechStack that ensures the smooth running of your firm and introduces a paperless approach where everything from receipts to reports is exchanged over the cloud. This practice helps reduce the overhead costs up to 50% which increases profitability. And the surplus could be used for upscaling your firm or making your sustainable firm.  Time to Build a Strategy for a Sustainable Firm

An outsourcing firm well-equipped with the right infrastructure and effective technology ensures maximum productivity with lesser resources. With technologies that aim at speeding up the accounting process, you can achieve faster turnaround and make room for contributing to other things. It allows business expansion and formulating a sustainable strategy for your firm.

  • Expertise that Helps Avoiding Repetition of Efforts

Is your staff in-house pre-occupied with the groundwork for most of the workweek? With a strong investment in personnel, an offshore team has the right knowledge to provide guidance and advice on making improvements to the accounting processes and make it more effective so it prevents repetition of efforts, therefore, saving resources.

  • Being Sustainable as an Advisor

Outsourcing frees up your time and resources so that you can use them to upscale your firm or develop as a full-blown advisory model. Being an advisory firm empowers accountants to consult their clients on implementing sustainability models, advise more small business clients to be sustainable and create a ripple effect of being a ‘business for good.’

Top Tip: Pick Partners Who Share the Same Belief

When planning to collaborate with outsourcing firms, choose a provider that shares the same beliefs as you in meeting the sustainability goals. QXAS has joined hands with a Singapore-based charity B1G1, where we get a chance to do our bit for those who need an opportunity to learn, grow and sustain their progress. The money raised is used to provide clean water and fresh vegetables to underprivileged kids. Collaborations like these not only help you achieve your sustainability goals but also allow you to associate your firm to a greater cause.

Continuing on with the Work-from-home Model

The onset of the pandemic has laid the foundation for adopting more sustainable ways of running firms. Now, almost a year into the pandemic, it is safe to say that many accounting firms have settled down in their remote setups. Along with the benefits of flexibility in working hours, it helps protect the environment. It saves immense amounts of resources like electricity consumed in running an office and the fuel used for commuting.

Post-Covid Sustainability Tips

If you choose to revive your office setup, you must focus on using the least amount of resources. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Adopt a Paperless Approach

Going paperless is one of the simplest ways to reduce environmental impact. It saves tremendous amounts of paper, keeps the data safe, and that makes it easier to transfer documents to the team members or clients. With PDF editors easily available online, one can easily toss out the fax machines.

Accountants are already making optimum use of accounting software, using soft copies instead of hard-copies is a convenient step to transition into a greener workplace.

  • Travel & Transportation

In 2019, 34% of greenhouse emissions came from transportation in the UK.  Accounting Firms can choose to cut down their contribution by introducing measures that allow their employees to commute without leaving any carbon footprint.

  • Use Environmental-friendly Products 

Office spaces are a witness of massive consumption of resources. A switch to sustainability can reduce wastage can bring a massive change. To start with, replace plastic glasses near the water filter to bottles or mugs. Using greener electronics, non-toxic highlighters, and refillable ink cartridges can help in avoiding a lot of unnecessary waste.

  • Seek Consultancy

If you wish to implement a plan of a greater magnitude, it’s advisable to seek professional consultancy. There are counseling firms like A4S dedicated to assisting companies actualising their sustainability plan into action. They allow companies to drive towards resilient business models which are profitable and green.

To a Profitable & a Socially Responsible Accounting Firm

The future is green and it must be. Small steps towards protecting the environment can help reap greater benefits. Just a few steps and you can easily improve your environmental footprint. Save nature and help your firm grow.  A win-win situation. Don’t you think?

Note from the Editor: Stay tuned for much such articles and updates. For discussing your outsourcing strategy, you can call our tax experts.


ABOUT Rishmita Aich

As a Journalist turned Marketer, Rishmita has developed a unique perspective when it comes to analysing & covering the changing landscape of the accounting industry. Influenced by Andrew Sorkin and Stephanie Flanders, she aspires to deliver souhgt-after advice, fresh updates & detailed analysis of HMRC legislations through her work for accounting practices to make better, informed decisions. She has spent the last 3 years creating insightful content for accountants, and is currently most passionate about the work she is doing to educate accountants about outsourcing. More Posts(16)  

Originally published Dec 07, 2020 12:12:55, updated December 07 2020

Topics: accountants, cloud accounting, Outsourcing, sustainability

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