The Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has put out a series of thought pieces called “It’s time for chartered accountants to save the world.” This may seem like a bold and outlandish statement, putting too much weight on the importance of accountants. However, is this really the case? If you think about what the economy these days, you can see how influential accounting and finance is in practically every industry. So it’s not too hard to see the influence on sustainability and progress that accountants could have. As they say, “money talks”, and who deals with money? Accountants.
How Can Accountants Achieve this?
The influence of those who can advise where money is spent within a business is powerful. It may be thought that an accountant’s role is simply to deal with what has happened and make sure everything is legal and in order. However, a good accountant will always be able to offer advice on future spending and therefore be very influential on a businesses’ practice. There have already been movements in the direction of accountants saving the planet. The Task Force on Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has “developed a framework to help public companies and other organisations more effectively disclose climate-related risks and opportunities through their existing reporting processes.” Accountants can pledge to follow this framework to help improve their sustainable practices.
Why Should Accountants ‘Save the World’?
The ICAS (Scottish version of ICAEW) is one such accounting organisation pledged to following the TCFD recommendations. Why is it so important for all influential accountants to follow these recommendations? Well, at the end of the day it is becoming clearer and clearer that humanity needs to collectively change the way we’ve treated the planet. We all need to realise our responsibility before it is too late.
This isn’t all ‘doom and gloom’ or ‘fear mongering’. But we are facing a new reality that poses a lot of risk. Of course technological developments could easily be credited for the biggest positive impact on sustainable development. However, in order for technology to develop it needs funding, resources and support. Accountants who can influence a big corporation’s spending can help to increase a demand for environmentally friendly products. For example, an accountant getting company cars switched to electric by taking advantage of a government tax break. The two (funding and technological developments) will need to work hand in hand for the best overall positive impact.
Not Just for the Planet but for your Business.
This isn’t really a matter of profit maximisation. More arguably, it’s a moral responsibility for the planet and future generations. Nowadays, there is much more media exposure and far greater access to information, and customer spending preference is often towards companies that carry out sustainable practices.
Imagine a CEO or business leader was exposed as caring only for profits and showing no regard for sustainability of the planet or social progression. It would make sense that many consumers / clients would distance or boycott this leader’s business. The human race must become collectively more responsible, holding governments and business to account for their actions and demanding change. Well, if all the accountants in the world suddenly decided to support each other in creating a more sustainable world, then that could easily be the turning point towards us ‘saving the planet’ (perhaps quite literally).
How else can Accountants can be Progressive?
The focus of this piece has obviously been on the environment. Discussing how accountants have a responsibility (as all humans do) to have a positive impact on environmental sustainability. ICAEW also talks about other ways in which accountants can help with socially progressive issues. Aiming to make the world a better place for all of us. Making the world a better place can take many forms. Read more here.
How does CBHC and our Vision Fit into this?
At CBHC, we have a chartered accountant as CEO and team leader. We also have a growing team with a lot of young and fresh talent. We believe that it must and will be the young, up-and-coming (future chartered) accountants to carry sustainable visions forwards – resultantly saving the world. It is our responsibility and desire to drive forward the idea that Accountants can, should and will save the world.