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Auditors at risk in SMEs Finance 

Auditors at risk in SMEs

The presence of auditors in SMEs is called into question . Indeed, it is the role of CACs in SMEs that is questioned with the reform project , entrusted to the General Inspectorate of Finance, for the revision of the intervention thresholds of auditing in SMEs.

These new intervention thresholds will be part of the Bill Action Plan for Growth and Transformation of Enterprises (Pact) to be presented to the Council of Ministers in April.

AUDITORS: TOO MUCH ADMINISTRATIVE BURDEN FOR SMES?

Last November, the Minister of Economy and the Minister of Justice entrusted the Inspectorate General of Finance with the task of assessing the relevance of the presence of auditors in SMEs, by reviewing the thresholds of intervention required .

On February 22, Bruno Le Maire announced the desire to remove the auditors in small businesses. The reaction of the President of the CNCC ( National Company of Auditors ), Jean Bouquot, was not long in two letters and a tribune in Les Echos, nor that of Jean-Luc Flabeau, president of the ECF federation ( National Federation of Chartered Accountants and Auditors of France) who published a tribune entitled “The auditor for the common good” on the site of the Opinion: “Today, the presence of auditors in SMEs is questioned.For what reasons exactly: the cost of their services The relevance of an external control imposed on the leaders These are bad pretexts.

However, the content of the new provisions concerning the auditors will not be detailed until mid-April.

THE FRAMEWORK OF THE REFORM OF THE STATUTORY AUDITORS

1) The auditor today

Recall the current framework governing the use of an auditor. Today, public limited companies and SCAs must appoint an auditor from their inception.

SARL, EURL, SNC and SCS have this obligation in case of exceeding two of the following thresholds :
– a turnover exceeding 3.1 million euros;
– a total balance sheet of more than 1.55 million euros;
– more than 50 employees.

For the SAS, the obligation also exists if the thresholds are exceeded but these are still lower:
– a turnover exceeding 2 million euros;
– a total balance sheet of more than 1 million euros;
– more than 20 employees.

The specificity of France lies in the very low level of these thresholds compared to the European standards set by the audit reform in 2016, setting an intervention threshold at:

– 8 million turnover,

– 4 million total balance sheet

– and 50 employees.

2) The stakes of the reform

But the government’s desire for reform is mainly part of the simplification law for SMEs to increase competitiveness . Indeed, the use of an auditor costs about 3,000 euros annually : a certain expense item for an SME.

However, in view of the French economic fabric composed mostly of small businesses, the raising of these thresholds would impact very heavily the profession of auditors : it is estimated that 150 000 the number of mandates that would be private auditors, about 800 million euros out of 2.7 billion currently. The current regulations take into account the specificity of France.

But beyond the statutory obligation to certify the accounts, auditors also play a role in preserving employment, and lightening the work of justice by exercising regular control to reduce fraud, to warn in case of complicated economic situations, and thus to limit the risks of insolvency of small businesses.

One of the solutions proposed by ECF is the creation of a simplified audit for SMEs , with a duration of presence of the auditor of 28 hours in the company instead of 40 hours, which would allow to maintain a control, but also to reduce the cost of around 30% for SMEs.

Throughout France, the various firms are considering new proposals, highlighting their role in detecting problems of internal organization of companies . It is true that if the rates of the services and the rigor of the audits are expensive for the companies, an objective, expert and external eye can be a good support for a company director in order to improve its organization and to develop in a way lasting, without forgetting the obligations of sound financial management.

If the reform is applied and penalizes the revenues of the accountants and auditorsit is to be feared that the cost of these for companies below the above-mentioned threshold may explode while it already represents an even greater burden for them than for the companies obliged to pass under the caudine forks of the accountants.
On the other hand, as many online solutions are developing at lower cost, we can think that a real revolution is on the way , with regard to this business which for a long time has allowed its actors a certain rent situation.

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