Stories from practice

27 February 2023

Insight from SME accountants: kicking off the sustainability journey by Anton Schmidl & Thomas Wallner, Crowe SOT

Anton Schmidl is Equity Partner and Thomas Wallner is Audit Director at Crowe SOT, a 60-employee professional services network in Austria. Their mission? Support SMEs with their sustainable transition.

What do SMEs need help with?

Our practice supports SMEs on sustainability awareness and helps them integrate sustainability into their business risk management. This includes understanding the company’s sustainability external impacts. This is important as most SME are unaware of the sustainability impacts that they can have, as well as impacts on their own business. This is especially the case for very small businesses.

For example, banks now send questionnaires to keep track of their SME clients’ sustainability targets. However, most business owners are at loss with how to deal with them or what the expectations are. These questionnaire formats are not standardised which adds to the confusion. Even among SMEs that have started transitioning their business models, many wonder where to start, what to measure and which figures to report.

A new management approach

SMEs can begin the sustainability journey with simple steps, such as having a new management approach and looking at sustainability risks. It can be as simple as an initial risk inventory. From then, they can gather the required information and documentation. Collecting basic sustainability data is not as complicated as many fear.

What can auditors and accountants do?

Auditors and accountants are there to help SMEs. We like to compare ourselves to general practitioners in medicine, with a good grasp of the business’ overall performance. We know how to gather and report information, and what first steps are realistic for each SME. For specialised knowledge e.g. on building valuation or energy rating, we reach out to technical experts within our network.

Auditors for their turn can provide assurance on SMEs’ sustainability information, for example when this is demanded by SMEs’ banks or large value chain partners. They have solid experience of what rigorous assurance requires. Many other experts also offer assurance services, but lack robust audit background which could lead to greenwashing.


This article is part of our Insights from SME accountants series, where small practitioners share their experience supporting SMEs with their sustainable transition. Connect with Anton Schmidl on LinkedIn.

Related content

EventEquipping the public sector for sustainability action

4 April 2023


24 March 2023

NewsTraining Italian accountants to take up the sustainability challenge

20 March 2023

PublicationVAT in the digital age – modernising the European VAT system

14 March 2023

UpdateSME Update

7 March 2023

NewsFinnish auditors gearing up for a comprehensive ESG training

3 March 2023

EventReinforcing SMEs’ cyber resilience

28 February 2023


24 February 2023


26 January 2023

NewsCollaboration – the key to high-quality sustainability education framework for accountants

23 January 2023

UpdateSME Update

20 January 2023

Consultation responseIPSASB’s exposure draft 83, reporting sustainability program information

17 January 2023

NewsJoint statement on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

8 December 2022


25 November 2022

PublicationFAQs: all you need to know about the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

23 November 2022

NewsEFRAG SRB issues first set of draft EU Sustainability Reporting Standards

23 November 2022

UpdateSME Update

17 November 2022

PublicationComparing European corporate governance models

17 November 2022

NewsNew SRB chair to further European sustainability reporting agenda

16 November 2022

EventSMEs’ sustainable transition: how to support it?

15 November 2022

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required
Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?
On which topics would you like to receive news?