I am honoured to have the opportunity to serve you as ISCA President for the last two years. Together with the Council members, I would like to say thank you for giving us the mandate to bring the Institute forward and entrusting us with the responsibility to propel the profession to the next level. With your continued support, I am positive that we can achieve our vision to be a globally recognised professional accountancy body, bringing value to our members, the profession and the wider community.
Last year, when Singapore marked its 50 years of independence, the Institute rejoiced alongside the nation and our fellow citizens. It was as much a celebration of the country’s progress as it was for the Institute, which has made invaluable contributions to Singapore’s development over the last five decades; accountancy has played a part in every economic sector, profession, industry, and society at large.
Accountants provide essential services to businesses, and ISCA’s success is predicated upon Singapore’s success as a vibrant commercial hub. Clearly, it is in our interest to help businesses flourish. As Singapore embarks on its SG100 journey, we look forward to a more vital business landscape where companies of different types – from small enterprises to global conglomerates, across diverse industries – thrive. Many of our CA (Singapore) members are professional accountants in business (PAIBs) working in these companies, while members in accounting firms work with these companies, providing auditing and assurance, advisory, risk management, valuation, tax and other services.
As the business environment becomes increasingly complex, exacerbated by geopolitical issues, the digital revolution, a slowdown in the global economy and a tightened regulatory regime, accounting professionals need to have the right competencies and resources to address the challenges arising, and manage the expectations of them as finance professionals and strategic business partners. Globalisation is a reality, and as businesses cross borders, accountants must be knowledgeable about the developments beyond Singapore’s shores. In this respect, the Institute’s professional development agenda aims to entrench in our members a global mindset with Asian insights, readying them for today and tomorrow.
Five years ago, ISCA began its transformation journey to ensure its relevancy in a constantly-changing world, while keeping an eye firmly on its vision. Our goal is to enhance the profession and help strengthen the infrastructure of the accountancy sector while supporting our members in different ways, including through professional development and advocacy. As we come to the close of our three-year Strategic Plan: Building and Outfitting Structure, I am pleased to share with you our achievements, and our plans for the future.
Last year, ISCA, together with the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), continued to develop partnerships with leading accountancy bodies to promote recognition of the CA (Singapore) designation. Such collaborations increase our members’ career opportunities and international mobility, and raise the Institute’s standing as a respected national accountancy body. ISCA concluded Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to explore routes to reciprocal membership with Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), and deepened our existing partnership with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). An agreement with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) established the ISCA-CIMA Pathway, enabling qualified ISCA members to fast-track their journey to obtain the globally recognised Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. This renowned qualification and management accounting knowledge will equip members to navigate a multifaceted business landscape.
The EOIs we signed in the last two years with established accountancy bodies paved the way for ISCA’s admission into Chartered Accountants Worldwide in 2015 as an Associate member. This membership elevates the CA (Singapore) designation globally, and provides the Institute and its members access to the combined expertise and networks of the world’s leading chartered accountancy bodies.
In the perennial contest for the best talents, ISCA faces the challenge of limited resources. To build a healthy talent pipeline of accountants, the Institute has created new membership pathways. Non-graduates with the relevant experience and qualifications, including the upcoming ISCA Accredited Accounting Technician (AAT) Diploma, can apply for Affiliate membership. The Associate membership pathway will also be expanded, adding further diversity to the talent pool.
As the Institute looks ahead, it has not forgotten its responsibility to the wider community and its role in nation-building. ISCA Cares, which is an institute of public character, was set up to champion giving by the accountancy profession. The charity supports two causes – Education and Community. The Education programme, which commences this year, provides disadvantaged Singapore youths access to a quality accountancy education through financial and non-financial assistance; the Community component, which begins in 2018, will harness the knowledge, skills and expertise of our members for community development projects through collaborative programmes with partners.
Within the region, ISCA is playing a leading role in the ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) to advance the role of the profession in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and further afield. ISCA currently chairs the AFA Accounting Standards Group, and on behalf of Singapore, had led the negotiations of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Accountancy Services. On the invitation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), I shared Singapore’s experience at the UNCTAD-International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (UNCTAD-ISAR)’s 32nd Session on Guidance on Good Practices in the Area of Compliance, Monitoring & Enforcement in Geneva. Such opportunities, leadership and advocacy roles enable us to raise the status of ISCA and its members, and participate in developments that will impact us. Together, they bring us closer to realising our vision.
ISCA supports members and the wider business community by preparing them for significant changes in the business and regulatory environment. Here, I would like to highlight that the Institute has re-constituted its Integrated Reporting Steering Committee as the Corporate Reporting Committee. This follows the recent announcement by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) to make sustainability reporting (SR) mandatory from the financial year ending on or after 31 December 2017, with reports published from 2018. The Committee will advance the value of holistic disclosures by listed companies in their corporate reporting, and provide strategic direction and oversight of the efforts and initiatives to promote good corporate reporting practices.
Since the release of the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) report in 2010, the Institute has been developing and implementing strategies to achieve its 2020 vision. We remain committed to this, and will continue to move full steam ahead with the Institute’s new Strategic Plan: Intensifying Global Prominence, developed for the period 2016 to 2018. Our fortunes are inextricably linked to Singapore’s, and like the city-state, our plans for the future are built around the five “futures” – jobs, companies, resources, technology and markets – supporting Singapore as it charts its new economic direction. The Institute will be rolling out a new range of talks and courses with certifications to enable members to keep pace with developments and build new skills for the “new” economy.
We have come this far because of the strong support of our members and stakeholders. With your continued support, I am confident we can achieve the success outcomes we desire. I would like to thank my fellow Council members who have served selflessly, and the ISCA management team and staff for their commitment, dedication and good work. I look forward to our working together to transform ISCA’s vision into reality.