The Institute and the SMP
Small & Medium Sized Practioners (SMP) have come a long way since the time when they felt that the MIA was not their Institute as they did not feel a sense of belonging to it.
It all started in 2002, when a group of SMPs founded the Small Practitioners Association. Soon after the Institute constituted the Small & Medium Sized Practitioners Advisory Committee (SMPAC) as a Council Committee chaired by Ben Scicluna whose role was to voice the SMP’s perspective.
The SMPAC was and still is a very active committee and has over the years been involved in various MIA initiatives making it one of the most active Institute committees. Meetings are always very well attended with members coming from all the different facets of the SMP Community. A milestone for the SMPAC is the organisation of the annual SMP Forum which has been running for the past four years. The SMP Forum caters for a full day seminar with insights and topics that appeal to the SMPs. In 2012, the SMPAC also organised an EU subsidised trip to various institutions in Brussels for SMPs; an initiative which the SMPAC is working on to repeat for another group of SMPs in 2016.
The SMPs have, for a good number of years, had a number of representatives on the MIA Council and also formed part of the MIA Executive Committee. Having been the Chairperson of the SMPAC for a number of years and representing the SMP’s on the MIA Council, I was in 2012 asked to form part of the FEE SMP Forum, which meets two to three times a year in Brussels and comprises the FEE member organisations like the MIA within the 28 European Member States together with representatives of ACCA and ICEAW. During the meetings, representatives from the European Institutions provide the members with insights and feedback to various initiatives that would have been taken. Through its members, the FEE SMP Forum:-
- Identifies matters and projects of relevance to SMPs.
- Provides and promotes the SMP perspective in FEE projects.
- Establishes an efficient network.
- Establishes the interests of SMPs on EU and national level.
- Establishes a way how these interests can be represented by fee.
- Provides advice and expertise on national SMP developments to FEE.
- Presents FEE’s SMP work in the respective countries to smps (in Malta this being done through the Malta SMP forum).
- Gives feedback on the SMP’s perspective to other FEE committees.
This forum and the information generated and received is very beneficial for the Maltese SMP. It helps him/her feel European, be European and share with other European SMP’s the difficulties being faced. The FEE SMP Committee issues a number of publications to inform SMPs around Europe what is happening. I invite you to have a look at the FEE SME/SMP library on: http://www.fee.be/library.html?category=44.
In 2015, I started representing the Institute on IFAC’s SMP Committee as a technical Advisor to Giancarlo Attolini, the Italian member and Chair of the Committee. The SMP Committee is comprised of 18 members from all over the globe, including a chair and deputy chair. The members on this committee represent a broad range of geographies and professional backgrounds. Apart from meeting two to three times a year, conference calls are organised on a regular basis to provide timely input relevant to SMPs, to the Standard Setting Boards.
As a strategic advisory body of professional accountants, the SMP Committee supports IFAC’s work in three main activity areas namely:-
- Development of tools and resources: In order to assist SMPs best serve their SME clients, the committee has developed guidance, tools and resources. These include the two comprehensive implementation guides (ISA and ISQC 1 guides), and a practice management guide for SMPs. The committee also collaborates with IFAC member organisations to share support materials that member bodies can use to support their SMP members.
- Timely input to policy, regulation, and international standards: The committee actively participates in IFAC’s regulatory dialogue on matters of relevance to SMPs/SMEs. The committee also regularly provides input on international standards, including those on auditing, assurance, quality control, ethics, and accounting, at all stages of their development to help ensure their relevance and proportionality to SMEs and SMPs, and to moderate the pace of change.
- Promoting the visibility and recognition of SMPs: Committee members, IFAC Leadership, and staff promote SMPs by speaking at different fora. In addition, the Committee issues news releases, articles and maintains online resources and tools.
There is a large amount of online resources specifically aimed to assist SMPs in their work. I refer you to the link: http://www.ifac.org/about-ifac/small-and-medium-practices and also to a very resourceful portal, The IFAC Global Knowledge Gateway which has a wealth of information that may be referred to: http://www.ifac.org/global-knowledge-gateway. Finally I would like to invite all SMPs to take part in the 2015 IFAC Global SMP survey on http://ifac.global-smp-survey-2015-ad.sgizmo.com/s3/
In conclusion, I believe that we cannot but agree that the Institute has over the years empowered and will continue to help SMPs in Malta become more professional, ethical, at par with their European and Global piers, and better equipped to face the challenging times ahead.