VOICE OF THE PROFESSION
As the voice of the accountancy profession, ISCA takes the lead in representing and championing the interests of its accountancy professionals.
Composers, past and present, use music to communicate their emotions, stories and the state of humanity. Often, a canonical composition expresses the collective sentiment of a community, a society or a nation. For over 50 years, ISCA has been the voice of the profession, often serving as a conduit to represent the profession’s views.
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An example is the Pre-Budget Survey, which reflects the views of the CA (Singapore) community regarding their wish list for the Singapore Budget. In 2016, the survey findings were collated in a report and issued in January, in conjunction with the ISCA Pre-Budget Roundtable 2016, which was themed “Repositioning for Future Growth”. Chaired by Mr Liang Eng Hwa, Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance, Trade & Industry and ISCA President Gerard Ee, the roundtable was attended by a distinguished panel of business leaders who shared a wide range of issues related to the Singapore Budget. The Roundtable discussion and ISCA’s Pre-Budget Survey findings served as feedback from the accountancy profession, for the government’s consideration in the formulation of Budget 2016.
ISCA and ICAEW jointly organised “Our Future Together” on 1 June 2016. At the event, participants from accountancy and other disciplines such as law and information technology shared their thoughts and views on the impact of technology on the future of the accountancy profession in Singapore. The “Our Future Together” conversation also engaged youths to share their thoughts about where they see the profession headed.
Based on the insights gathered, a report was produced and was shared with the Committee on the Future Economy, formed by the government to develop economic strategies to position Singapore for the future.
We also released our third study on Singapore’s audit committees titled The Profile of Audit Committees of Listed Companies in Singapore 2015, which sheds light on the corporate governance landscape in Singapore. This is the third study on audit committees (AC) commissioned by ISCA and conducted by the National University of Singapore (NUS), following previous studies conducted in 2009 and 2011. For the first time, the study includes a new section featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with selected AC chairmen on their views on issues such as the criteria for selecting AC members.
Given that investor confidence and trust in the financial statements is a crucial component for financial markets to function smoothly, ISCA, Singapore Management University, Singapore Institute of Technology, Institute of Valuers and Appraisers of Singapore and Hong Kong Polytechnic University surveyed the attitudes and concerns of over 700 participants towards fair value accounting. The project was awarded the Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund grant in August 2014. The result was released and reported by the media at the Singapore Accountancy Convention.
To raise the level of corporate governance in Singapore, we partnered with the Singapore Institute of Directors to launch the Singapore Directorship Report 2016. The second edition provided in-depth analyses of the characteristics of directors who are on the boards of Singapore Exchange-listed companies. Together with data from the first report in 2014, it provided comparative analysis on areas such as board composition, directors’ tenure, remuneration, meeting attendance, gender diversity and multiple directorships. The report is supported by ACRA, SGX and industry partners comprising Deloitte, Handshakes, Nanyang Technological University and NUS.
In partnership with KPMG, we unveiled the ISCA-KPMG Risk Management Study, titled “Driving Value: Risk Transparency and Culture”. The first study was conducted in 2013. This was a time-based study initiated to observe risk governance disclosures of over 200 local listed companies. It analysed disclosures found in annual reports related to board risk governance, risk management capabilities and structures, risk management practices, and internal audit and fraud risk management. Interviews with independent directors and leading risk practitioners complemented the study’s findings.
In our capacity as the national accountancy body of Singapore, we submitted various comment letters to the IASB, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) during the year. Some of the notable ones include “Enhancing Audit Quality in the Public Interest”, “Long Association of Personnel with an Audit Client”, “Applying IFRS 9 Financial Instruments with IFRS 4 Insurance Contract”, “Application of Materiality to Financial Statements” and “Uncertainty over Income Tax Treatments”. Views were sought from our members and committees to highlight areas of consideration and application matters and presented to the standards setters, prior to a standard being issued or amended.
When it comes to accountancy, audit and assurance matters, we are the go-to body for government agencies. Together with the Accountant General’s Department, we conducted a sharing session to help government agencies and statutory boards understand the different types of auditing and assurance frameworks in 2016. The nature and extent of work performed and the different levels of assurance provided under different frameworks will help agencies and statutory boards assess and determine the framework that is most appropriate to be used for the auditor’s reports in relation to their respective schemes or grants.
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