The unsung heroes of social impact: why accountants need to be more than just number-crunchers

In the intricate ecosystem of business and finance, accountants have long been the custodians of balance sheets and fiscal responsibility. However, a tectonic shift is occurring—one that positions accountants as pivotal players in the broader arena of social impact.

The Central Node of a Vast Network

Let’s commence by acknowledging the strategic position that accountants hold. They serve as the epicentre of expansive and varied networks, bridging the gap between businesses, government bodies, suppliers, and sometimes even end consumers. This central vantage point provides them with the unique ability to observe cross-sector trends, advocate for ethical practices, and influence systemic change. Their role goes beyond transactional tasks; they serve as connectors and can act as catalysts for collective actions.

Balancing Profit and Purpose

It’s tempting to be cynical about the capacity of a profession that lives and dies by the numbers to move the needle in areas traditionally the realm of frontline charity work. Yet, accounting firms that pivot from being solely profit-focused to purpose-driven are increasingly demonstrating that commercial growth and societal impact are not mutually exclusive. They’re not just parallel lines; they’re intersecting avenues.

The Struggle of Tradition vs. Progression

The road to change is far from smooth, especially for traditional sectors and family-run businesses that are steeped in legacy practices. The pull of tradition, while often a stronghold of identity, can also serve as a barricade against innovation and modernisation. Resistance to change is not just a harmless quirk; it’s a strategy of self-sabotage that risks obsolescence. Companies need to adapt or risk becoming business fossils in a world that’s rapidly evolving.

Leading the Charge

Progressive firms like Kreston Reeves, BKL, Thrive Accountants, and Cooper Parry aren’t merely jumping on the bandwagon of social impact. They are leading the parade by obtaining certifications like BCorp, which require rigorous standards of social and environmental performance. And this is no minor feat in an industry that’s so deeply rooted in convention. When an accountancy firm emerges as a beacon of progressive thought, it has a ripple effect, compelling other firms to consider their role beyond the balance sheet.

The Evolution from Bean-Counter to Impact Creator

So, where does this place the accountancy profession in the grand scheme of things? Far from being mere counters of beans, they’re becoming planters of seeds that will grow into a more sustainable, equitable future. Accountants have an increasingly critical role to play in advising businesses on how they can balance the triple bottom line—profit, people, and planet.

We work with professional services firms to assess where they are, where they want to get to, and how to get there.


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