Counters of beans thinking green

Written on the 15 September 2010

Queensland-based SRJ Accountants and Business Advisers and Stepping Stone Equity are two firms navigating clients through the new carbon economy to ensure their green credentials maintain credibility.
SRJ director Jason Croston, says those that don’t will not only fail their clients but potentially face the risk of losing business.

“In advising our clients we take them through a process of assisting with long term and bigger picture strategies so that we can work together with them to set the best pathway to achieve these goals,” says Croston.

“When looking at the long term with clients, an important issue to consider is the sustainability of their activities. Sustainability is about using available resources in the smartest way to achieve a greater outcome.

“Unfortunately there is a lack of regulation governing advisers in this space in Australia. For example you don’t need any qualifications to measure a business’ carbon footprint, so in an unregulated market it makes sense to lean on the advisers that you trust.

“To help our clients, particularly those who wish to ‘green up’, we have collaborated with emissions specialists Carbon Planet in order to offer an audit of a business’s operations that’s backed up by science.”

Croston says environmental leverage is becoming increasingly important with cost savings on energy efficiency and reducing emissions. He says companies that supply to large businesses are also being asked to prove what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.

“There are many examples in the tendering processes right now and some businesses like NAB have even publicly announced their desire to become carbon neutral will rely on their suppliers to become carbon neutral,” he says.

“Businesses are seeing that there is a competitive advantage in marketing your business as carbon neutral, environmentally friendly or sustainable, and increasingly smaller businesses are seeing that the general public sees organisations that have this image as a positive factor.”

While SRJ has partnered with a carbon management company to offer combined scientific and financial business solutions, Stepping Stone Equity has helped a number of green SMEs to successfully raise capital.

CEO of Stepping Stone Terry Richards, says crowding in the market could be seen as a benefit.

“I think credibility is becoming more and more of an issue, particularly after the whole insulation and solar panel debacle,” he says.

“People are looking at green operators less as good Samaritans and are seeing them more for what they really are – businesses that are designed to make a profit. That doesn’t mean that they don’t do good work, because a lot of them do provide very worthwhile services.

“What I think we’re seeing now is a slight public scepticism that, as the industry proliferates, will help to separate some of the cowboys from the serious operators. However this scepticism is also making it difficult for many businesses operating in the green space to raise the necessary capital to grow.”

Despite his askance with certain components associated with green tech, Richards is positive about its future.

“Due to the rapid growth of the industry, a lot of up-and-coming operators within it are struggling to get a foothold, and we are seeing an increasing number of businesses coming to us for advice,” he says.

“Because we’ve worked in this space we’ve been able to help some of these businesses to get their hands on growth capital that the banks, who are being somewhat obstructionist in their policies at the moment, won’t lend out to SMEs.

“Despite some of the teething problems that the green industry is experiencing, I think the increase of such businesses can only be a good thing both environmentally and for the economy.”


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