In this interview, Johan Barros, Manager for SME strategy at Accountancy Europe, provides insight into the challenges accountants and their clients face when dealing with new demands, such as green and digital transitions, and how intellectual property can be a powerful tool for risk management and the resilience of SMEs in a global market.
For those unfamiliar with Accountancy Europe, could you briefly explain what your organisation does in general and in particular to support EU SMEs?
Accountancy Europe unites 50 professional accountancy associations from 35 countries that in total represent 1 million qualified accountants, auditors and advisers from across Europe. They work in different settings – some in large companies, others in the public sector and many thousands work as small and medium-sized practitioners (SMPs), each of whom service hundreds of SME clients. Accountants are SMEs’ trusted advisers. They support and advise SME clients throughout their entire business life cycle, and have the expertise and experience to do so thanks to their qualifications and their many SME clients.
Accountancy Europe supports these SMPs and SME accountants in their work helping SMEs deal with various risks and business challenges. Automation is one of the big challenges faced both by SMEs and their accountants, who are seeing the traditional work of accountants, such as bookkeeping and preparing financial reports, disappearing.
We and our members, therefore, see SME accountants expanding into areas of business advice and risk management, which will benefit both them and their clients. According to the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), SMEs increasingly demand such services from their accountants. Accountancy Europe’s work draws on the expertise of our SMP members to issue practical guidance and checklists to support SME accountants’ work in such areas as insolvency, sustainability risk management, and digital transition. We also inform our SMP members of key EU policy changes that might affect their SME clients. Finally, we bring the perspectives of SMEs and our SMP members to EU policymakers.
What is your impression of the EUIPO’s SME programme and the role it plays in supporting SMEs?
The EUIPO’s SME programme is an impactful and valuable initiative that addresses a concrete need of SMEs. Intellectual property (IP) offers important benefits for SMEs, and in turn IP is crucial for the EU economy to promote innovation among Europe’s SMEs. However, it is not always easy for SMEs to deal with IP matters. Many are even unaware of the benefits IP protection can bring or how to access their IP rights. SMEs need support to find specialists and get financing to help with IP-related costs. The EUIPO’s SME programme addresses all these key areas. We also appreciate the EUIPO drawing on the expertise of, and collaborating with, different SME ecosystem representatives, such as accountants, banks, SME associations and others. Each party brings their own specific perspectives that together can lead to a holistic approach. Accountancy Europe is proud to be part of this programme and we look forward to continued collaboration.
Read the complete interview on the Ideas Powered for business website.