Driving positive change. Presenting the TriFinance ESG Reporting Expert Practice

12 March 2024

Characteristic of TriFinance's Pragmatic Advisory & Implementation services is the integration of knowledge building, methodology, and teamwork within an Expert Practice structure. Expert Practices exist for risk, business process management, ERP, data & analytics, and corporate reporting. Each Expert Practice is led by an Expert Practice Leader responsible for initiating projects, team management, and attracting talent to further develop the practice.

In this article, we introduce the ESG expert practice by asking one question to Project Consultants Susan De BoeverNienke Van Turnhout, and Expert Practice Leader Mario Matthys. Their answers shed some light on the ESG team's contributions to TriFinance's mission of delivering impactful and sustainable solutions to its clients.

A project-based approach

What makes the ESG team's service unique is their project-based approach, allowing team members to complement and reinforce each other. “Given the extensive and complex nature of sustainability issues, with numerous operational and procedural facets, no single individual can address all these challenges individually,” Mario Matthys says.

“Having the ability to rely on the experience, advice, or specific knowledge of team members is a significant advantage,” Susan adds. “We often find that ESG profiles at our clients lack this internal sounding board and often work in silos, whereas a more integrated team approach yields better results.”

Nienke highlights the importance of teamwork in addressing clients' evolving ESG needs: “As an ESG consultant, you work in a dynamic environment where teamwork is paramount, playing a crucial role in providing external expertise and addressing the challenges clients face today in ESG.”

Working in Advisory as an ESG Reporting Consultant: Susan De Boever

Susan De Boever: Becoming an ESG Project Consultant

Susan De Boever, what path have you taken to realize your ambition as a Project Consultant in Sustainability reporting?**

Susan De Boever: ‘‘I joined TriFinance in September 2023. Already during my application, I expressed my desire to work on sustainability reporting, and shortly after joining, I began working on the first project in this area.

‘My interest in ESG was sparked during a two-month volunteer stint in Slovenia, where I became increasingly aware of CO2 emissions and the impact of dietary choices like not eating meat.

‘After resigning from my previous position at a Big4 company, I felt compelled to pursue a more meaningful job. I'm passionate about this field because I believe it helps steer companies toward a sustainable future, and I'm convinced that such companies will have longer lifespans. Companies that do not jump on this bandwagon will fall out sooner or later because regulations are already much stricter in this area.

‘We conducted the double materiality exercise at a company that produces chips for automobiles. This exercise is essential to determine what topics are important in sustainability reporting. This is a mandatory first step in making a sustainability report. The most satisfying aspect of this exercise for me was that it increased awareness within the company, including the formation of a sustainability committee that strategically considers ESG issues.

TriFinance stands out for its pragmatic approach. We've set standard steps and procedures for non-financial reporting but tailor them for each company's needs. We make it clear to our clients that it is crucial to prioritize areas for the first year, considering the complexity and multitude of data points that make it impossible to be compliant from year one.

When a more standardized, particularly compulsory framework on ESG reporting emerged, I recognized it as a game changer in the corporate world. The ESG team is deeply involved and engaged in navigating through complex rules, guidelines, and implementation guidelines.

Mario Matthys, Expert Practice Leader ESG reporting, TriFinance

Mario Matthys
Mario Matthys

Mario Matthys: Forging a path in ESG Reporting

Mario Matthys, what vision did you have when forming the ESG Team two years ago?

Mario Matthys: ‘Reporting at a group level has always been the guiding principle in my professional journey. So, it was obvious to me to closely monitor European initiatives in sustainability reporting. When these initiatives gained the attention they deserved and a more standardized, particularly compulsory framework emerged, I recognized it as a game changer in the corporate world. CFO Services gave me the freedom and opportunities to establish an expert practice in this domain.

Additionally, we observed that awareness of the sustainability theme in the corporate world was only moderate. There has fortunately been a lot of evolution in this area in the past 2 years. Directors seem increasingly aware of the significant impact sustainability will have on their businesses, affecting all interactions with customers, suppliers, investors, banks, and of course, their staff.

We have been steadily building the ESG team. We also believe that we are only at the start of a changing corporate landscape, particularly in the search for "healthy profits." The ESG team is deeply involved and engaged in navigating through complex rules, guidelines, and implementation guidelines. They have attended numerous webinars, seminars, and courses. But they learn the most through practice and hands-on experience, especially in ongoing ESG projects Only there do they face real implementation problems and learn the necessary pragmatism.

I believe that with the right project structure, the ESG team is well-positioned to successfully complete ESG projects and add value to our clients. I am pleased to see that processes such as the DMA process (double materiality analysis), the fit-gap exercise, developing an ESG framework, and guiding or implementing ESG software are now services we can efficiently provide.

Nienke Van Turnhout
Nienke Van Turnhout

Nienke Van Turnhout: From Finance Exploration to ESG Reporting

Nienke, what intrigued you most about the TriFinance story?

Nienke Van Turnhout: ‘In my final year TEW (Applied Economics), I had to decide which job I wanted to pursue. I was certain I wanted to work as a consultant to gain exposure to a variety of finance jobs and learn extensively. Searching for a company that shared my values, TriFinance caught my attention with its employee-centric approach. As I was still figurng out my preferred branch within finance, TriFinance's method of aligning projects with consultants' goals proved invaluable.

As a newcomer to the industry, I placed great importance on getting adequate training, which TriFinance provided in various ways. One aspect that particularly attracted me was the Young Hub Program, with its foundational training, Additionally, each consultant gets a mentor for every project. Initially, I aimed for a traditional path, starting as an AP accountant and progressing to GL and eventually a business controller."

My initial projects involved working as an AP and GL processor, discovering my interests extended beyond accounting. I delved into processes, sought efficiencies, aimed to better understand software operations, and enjoyed optimizing reporting. TriFinance recognized these interests, finding a consolidation project that combined these aspects. During that project, I was first introduced to ESG reporting, which immediately intrigued me."

After completing another project in consolidation and further researching ESG, I made the transition to the ESG team. This role combines the best of various worlds for me, providing a comprehensive view of a company, delving into processes beyond just financial ones, and aiming to establish reporting, which is frequently accompanied by new software or tools. It incorporates all of my developed interests over the years, and working in teams for various clients adds to the enjoyment. This motivates me to go to work every day.