Stories from practice

12 October 2022

Insight from SME accountants: sustainability matters for the new generation by Mark Wirth, Zampa Debattista

Mark is a chartered accountant and certified auditor in Mosta, Malta. He first spent 8 years at a large accountancy firm before becoming an in-house senior accountant in the airline industry. In 2017, he set up his own accounting firm, which later on merged with Zampa Debattista. Mark explains his key drivers and how his practice is upskilling for the biggest challenge of our times: sustainability.

In Malta, the Big 4 accountancy firms dominate the sustainability market. Our client base is predominantly made up of SME clients but also includes some larger entities. This provides us with a market and scope to develop a team dedicated to sustainability.

Mindsets are changing

Accountants’ mindsets in Malta are shifting. There is a growing awareness of how important sustainability is for the profession and our clients. There are a lot of buzzwords around this, but our purpose is to have these principles embedded within our team and to be leaders in this space.

The average age at our firm is quite young, and this mindset shift is particularly visible among our younger employees. For them, accountants should focus on environmental impacts and businesses’ sustainability.

Sustainability and ESG training

We are building a dedicated team to develop sustainability expertise. Technical training through our own in-house academy will also be complemented by external seminars and workshops. We will also be mobilising our colleagues within our global network to reinforce our expertise further. We are also strongly considering outsourcing certain sustainability services to experts within our network.

We encourage in-house training over looking for the skills we need elsewhere. My view of success is to have a young person join our team as a junior, then growing into a partner while sharing our values and sustainability mindset from the start.

Looking to the future

We are seeing this mindset shift among our business clients too. Many of them are moving away from focusing solely on financial returns and are now considering ESG and sustainability. They want to work on a fundamental cultural shift within their business, all the way to the board level.

This is particularly prominent among the new generation of businesspeople who are now starting to take over family businesses in Malta. These younger entrepreneurs are much more environmentally conscious and share a strong sense of community. They are the ones proactively coming to us for sustainability services and support.

 

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 Mark Wirth on LinkedIn.

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