Sustainability reporting “a huge opportunity” for smaller accounting firms

Outi Ihanainen-Rokio speaking at Novia UAS event, May 2024
Outi Ihanainen-Rokio
2 min

Researchers at Novia UAS highlight the opportunities that sustainability reporting is creating. “Sustainability is not just about acquiring new technology; it requires a mind shift,” says Dr Outi Ihanainen-Rokio.

Sustainability reporting is nothing new, but up until recently, it has mainly been the domain of larger companies. However, within the next few years, sustainability requirements for some medium-sized companies will increase in the EU.

“And bigger companies are likely to ask SMEs in their value chain to fulfil reporting needs,” says Dr Outi Ihanainen-Rokio, a part-time researcher at Novia.

Dr Ihanainen-Rokio was the main speaker at Novia’s recent breakfast event held at the Bistro4 restaurant in Vaasa.

Spearheaded by accounting firms

Financial reporting and sustainability reporting have many similarities, which likely explains why accounting firms and audit offices are the main service providers in this field. One current problem, according to Outi Ihanainen-Rokio, is that the most active players are big corporations.

“Do our smaller accounting firms understand what a huge opportunity they have here?”

The researchers believe that local accounting companies will and should play an important role within the sustainability reporting field. One of Novia’s ongoing projects is researching how ready the accounting firms in the Vaasa region are for this development. A part of this is a still ongoing survey asking local accounting firms their opinions on this matter.

A chance for other companies as well

Rosmeriany Nahan-Suomela and Outi Ihanainen-Rokio speaking at Novia UAS event, May 2024
Rosmeriany Nahan-Suomela, Outi Ihanainen-Rokio

Novia’s Rosmeriany Nahan-Suomela says that sustainability reporting can create competitive advantages even for the companies subjected to it. In the future, the harsh reality could be that companies that are unable to provide sustainability figures may go out of business.

“Sustainability reporting is already necessary to participate in some procurements,” says Rosmeriany Nahan-Suomela, Head of Degree Program in Digital Business and Management at Novia.

In addition, Outi Ihanainen-Rokio raises the question if we will even have enough accounting businesses to provide affordable services, targeting the needs of SMEs.

Novia UAS’s ongoing project is named “Exploring the Challenges of Early Adoption of Global Reporting Initiative and Nordic Sustainability Reporting Standards – SMEs Perspective in Ostrobothnia”.

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