Freddie Nicolas, you are the head of the Occitan Order of Chartered Accountants. What characterizes the profession in our region?
The state of Occitania has 1,950 chartered accountants, making it the fourth rank region in France. A figure that is constantly growing at 3-5% per year and allows us to correctly respond to the needs of companies, as we cover 80 to 90% of the market, with the exception of very small businesses.
Our regional body consists of 36 elected members (compared to 48 previously) and is the result of the meeting of the two previous orders of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees. The head office is located in Toulouse, and the territorial representation is in Montpellier.
We are characterized, first of all, by the difficulty of hiring in our offices.
What key actions are you planning for 2022-2023?
In the regions, we duplicate nationwide actions and develop educational and preventive actions on cybercrime and cryptocurrencies. Another major project is digitalization, which will force all companies to switch to electronic accounts from 2024.
As Chartered Accountants, we will support them on these issues, just as we did on withholding tax. In particular, we rely on jefacture.com, a platform for accountants, to organize free webinars and seminars throughout France.
Can you give us a photo of the companies in Occitania today that the accountants saw?
Companies in Occitania are not doing so badly. According to our latest data from the State Expertise database by profession, VSP-SME turnover increased by 10.1% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021. Balance sheets for 2021 are almost back to pre-Covid 2019 levels. Of course, this figure covers very different situations depending on the sector. Aeronautics is picking up very well, as are tourism, hotels and restaurants, which are experiencing very strong growth, as well as pharmacies and leisure, DIY and gardening. On the other hand, the automotive sector is still struggling.
First of all, there is concern about the future of PGE reimbursement. We are only at the beginning of the journey, but some companies have signed up to 30% of their turnover in PGE, which will require very high compensation. To date, the Bank of France has many reservations regarding the provision of installments.
Interview with Beatrice Girard
Pictured is Freddie Nicholas, President of the Occitanie, Credit (COEC) Chartered Public Accountants.