Small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs) are a critically important part of the profession: they constitute the vast majority of accountancy practices worldwide and, in many areas of the world, are believed to employ the majority of professional accountants working in practice. Furthermore, SMPs typically serve small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs), commonly referred to as engines of growth and innovation.
There is no standard definition of what constitutes an SME, but Edinburgh Group research estimates indicate that more than 95% of enterprises across the world are SMEs, accounting for approximately 60% of private sector employment and contributing significantly to countries’ gross domestic product (GDP). SMEs are crucial to the health, stability, and sustainable economic growth of both developed and developing economies.
It is well recognized that professional accountants are often the preferred source of advice for SMEs, typically forming long-term relationships founded on trust. SMPs can provide a range of high-quality professional services to their SME clients, including audit and assurance and expert business advisory services.
IFAC supports this critical sector through a number of initiatives to raise the profile and build the capacity of SMPs globally. With input and guidance from the SMP Committee, IFAC represents SMPs’ interests to standard setters and regulators, facilitates the sharing of tools and resources to help them compete in the global marketplace, and speaks out to raise awareness of their role and value, especially in supporting SMEs, and the importance of the small business sector overall.
A new publication from IFAC & the International Integrated Reporting Council helps small- and medium-sized entities adopt integrated thinking & reporting and understand the benefits.
The biggest challenges facing SMPs worldwide are keeping up with new regulations/standards, attracting new clients, and pressure to lower fees according to the 2016 IFAC Global SMP Survey. Conducted since 2011, the IFAC Global SMP Survey provides unique insights into the challenges and opportunities facing SMPs and their small- and medium-sized entity clients around the world.