Carol Lynch, an ACCA member from Dublin, has worked in finance for a long time, mainly in credit, operational, and regulatory risk management.
She’s seen the boom years for Ireland, and was at the sharp end of the crash too, forecasting losses. More recently, she’s focused on implementation of financial regulations, particularly Basel II and III. But her latest adventure is as a freelance consultant, helping small and medium-sized entities with their risk management frameworks.
“When it comes to managing risks,” says Lynch, “larger corporations tend to have their own resources, or the money to hire experts. For SMEs that’s not the case, and they need to develop their own understanding of known and unknown risks, and build their own risk management framework.”
Lynch believes that small and medium-sized accounting practices have an important role to play here. “SMPs should take an active role in helping SMEs with their risk management tools and frameworks. They’re well-placed to do it too, since they’re a business of a similar size.”
After 2020’s shocks, most businesses will have started to think about risk differently, but, says Lynch, crises shouldn’t be the only driver. “Sustainability should be a watchword of every business -a constant, and not a reactive.” “The traditional way of looking at business success through the lens of profitability is not enough,” she adds, “SMPs have a unique opportunity to be a leading light in this space, since they’re shifting their focus too, and can help reorient SMEs towards resilience, sustainability, and long-term, low-carbon goals.”
All businesses must consider the impact they’re having on the environment and society, says Lynch, and since some of these impacts will be less tangible than others, SMPs and SMEs alike will have to draw on what she describes as a “huge body of rich resources - a great starting point is the recently launched ACCA Sustainability hub.”
Lynch herself is part of those resources. “What’s good for risk management is invariably good for business,” she says. “Risk management encourages businesses to keep an eye on the future and to think strategically about responses. COVID-19 has show us that good risk management can drive beneficial investments. But the next risk is only around the corner.”
Lynch particularly wants SMPs to help SMEs understand that regulation is not just onerous box-ticking. “Organisations who approach it from the cultural side too often find that there’s value-add to be found in complying with regulations. Don’t stop short of looking for the benefits, and innovate to meet the rules.” The European Green Deal is a great example of this, Lynch explains. “Accountants at SMPs can help bring sustainability knowledge to SMEs, help them get access to the cash that’s available for green schemes and technology, and help them measure their ‘triple bottom line’ too. All of that will have a positive effect on the business itself, a positive effect on risk, and a positive effect on the environment.”