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Sustainability & impact

Grant Thornton expands sustainable expertise centre to help organisations with their sustainability transition

Grant Thornton is strengthening her sustainability and impact service provision by acquiring two renowned parties, Avance Impact and Wolfs Company. Sinzer already joined Grant Thornton in 2019. Grant Thornton now has an expertise centre with over 40 experienced consultants providing services around sustainability and impact. Its specialised service provision ranges from strategy and purpose, to measuring impact, and reporting on and responsibility for environmental, social and economic aspects.

The urgency of future-proofing business operations is clear. At the same time, the environment in which organisations operate is changing at light speed, with new rules and regulations around sustainability, changing client needs and data requirements for a broad range of themes with social, environmental and governance aspects. Supporting organisations in this transition to a more sustainable and inclusive economy and society requires both broad and deep expertise. Grant Thornton feels enormous urgency to support organisations in this. That’s why it is expanding its service provision in the field of sustainability and impact. The three former director-owners, Edith Kroese and Jacoline Plomp (Avance Impact) and Esther Wolfs (Wolfs Company) will join Emma Verheijke as partners in Grant Thornton’s sustainability practice.

Increased pressure on entrepreneurs

Marcel Welsink, Chairman of the Managing Board of Grant Thornton: “Entrepreneurs are increasingly obliged to ensure their operations contribute to European climate goals and prevent inequality. As we prepare for the rules relating to sustainable reporting (CSRD), the next set of regulations is already in view: quantifying and reporting on biodiversity. We expect the societal and legal pressure to further increase in the years ahead. Not only because of the various data requirements but also due to changing client needs, the required sustainability requirements in the chain and the increasing importance of including sustainability factors in tenders. We see many entrepreneurs struggling with the question of how to do this. They really need practical help from an expert to support them in this. Our sustainability practice already offers this expertise but due to the fast developments in the field, there was a need to scale up and broaden our scope technically. That’s why we are incorporating thorough, specialist knowledge for this broad theme.”

Meaningful expansion to existing service provision

Avance Impact’s service provision provides a seamless fit with Grant Thornton’s sustainability and impact advisory practice, with a focus on the public sector, non-profits and impact investors. Grant Thornton aims to put Avance’s expertise to broad use and translate it into the SME and mid-corporate market. A market in which Avance is already active, but together with Grant Thornton can achieve even more of an impact.
The certified training offer Avance delivers is a valuable addition to the service offering with which Grant Thornton not only trains impact managers or even sustainability officers, but also helps SMEs on their way to increasing knowledge. Edith Kroese: “With over 25 years of experience in managing for impact and sustainability, together we can work on getting impact and sustainability just as high on the agenda as HR strategy or finance. With entrepreneurs, investors and government, because all parties should contribute to a more sustainable society.”

Wolfs Company strengthens Grant Thornton through its front-runner role in the field of biodiversity and environmental impact at a national and international level. Its long-standing experience in developing the ‘business case for nature’ by measuring, calculating and valuing environmental impact, including biodiversity, really stands out. Companies and financial institutions are increasingly asked to provide scenario analyses of their impact on the environment and the company risks associated with that. Wolfs Company provides insight into how biodiversity relates to operating results and the financial value it entails. In doing so, it shows both the risks and the opportunities of sustainable operations. Esther Wolfs: “By combining our experience, both in social and in natural capital, we know like no other how we can get companies and NGOs ready for a sustainable future. Together we can accelerate the positive impact of doing business sustainably.”

Focus on advising based on societal relevance

Grant Thornton offers entrepreneurs both sustainability advice and an accountability audit. At that interface, there’s a dilemma of independence still being hotly debated, both from the point of view of European regulations and from regulators and professional bodies in the Netherlands. Is an accountant still allowed to audit financial and/or non-financial reporting if she also advises the client? Chairman of the Board Marcel Welsink says in this regard: “The discussion will likely continue for years and the question is what the outcome will be. However, for entrepreneurs that discussion is not relevant at this time. What they primarily need is good advice and support when it comes to impact. It is important for society that entrepreneurs take steps now. This ensures they maintain their relevance and prevents them from going out of business. That is why we focus on the role of advisor, to help organisations. If it later turns out that we are not able to conduct the audit for our existing clients because we advised them about impact strategy and reporting (which I would find logical) then we’ll ensure the audit of the sustainability report can be conducted by another party.”

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