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The new year marks the beginning of the annual financial reporting season. All companies that prepare financial reports have to deal with the issues surrounding the preparation of their annual financial statements. Even if many of those responsible are not aware of it: accounting compliance forms the foundation here. It ensures that all relevant accounting rules are recognized and applied, and that the company’s assets and liabilities are valued correctly, so that the annual financial report is prepared in accordance with the rules.

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The topic of sustainability is gaining strength. The background is the EU Green Deal, with which the European states want to gradually make the EU climate-neutral by 2050. The financial markets have a decisive role to play in the implementation of the climate policy goals, as they promote and anchor the issue of sustainability. “Sustainable finance” is the new buzzword. It means that sustainable aspects of a company regarding the environment, social issues or corporate governance are included in the decisions of financial actors. Sustainable finance is synonymous with supervision and regulation of the financial markets towards more sustainability in companies – and that also in small and medium-sized enterprises. In the future, banks will give more weight to sustainable aspects when granting loans, regardless of the size of the company, and make sure that their loan portfolios are in line with the EU taxonomy, which will come into force in 2022 and place greater emphasis on environmental aspects.

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The implementation of the EU Whistleblower Directive is on the agenda of many small and medium-sized companies. Managing directors and compliance officers immediately think of lawyers and software, but it takes a lot more to implement the guideline not only in a legally secure way, but also in a motivating and profitable way.

Our expert Karin Scherer puts it in a nutshell: “Many managing directors would like to receive information from the staff when the company is damaged, whether negligently or intentionally, internally by employees or by external persons. Our experiences range from reaching into the till, theft of goods to sexual harassment at the workplace. All incidents in which those in the know or affected did not know how to act, looked a way as a precaution – and in which the management would have liked to have been informed at an early stage, to protect the employees affected and the company.”

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