“2018 has been another fulfilling and successful year for ISCA as we continue working towards becoming a world-class institute that is member-centric, while bringing value to the profession and the wider community.”
I am honoured to serve as President of the Institute. In the last few years, ISCA has made important progress in raising our global visibility, broadening our professional development offerings and providing more resources to support our diverse membership. I would like to offer my deepest thanks and appreciation to former President Dr Gerard Ee for all he has done for ISCA. I hope to carry on the good work he has started and bring the Institute to greater heights.
2018 has been another fulfilling and successful year for ISCA as we continue working towards becoming a worldclass institute that is member-centric, while bringing value to the profession and the wider community. Notably, we have introduced new disciplines to broaden our members’ career options, continued to make strides globally and rolled out more programmes to support SMPs. I am pleased to share some of our key achievements over the year with you as well as several initiatives lined up for 2019.
KEEPING MEMBERS FIGHTING FIT
To enable our members to take charge of their professional development, we have launched learning roadmaps to guide our members in mapping their professional development journeys and continued to expand our online learning offerings to cater to the needs of members who prefer learning anytime, anywhere. The PAIB Framework and corresponding PAIB Learning Roadmap launched in the past year guide financial and management accountants on key competencies and skills required at different proficiency levels, while the SMP Learning Roadmap delineates the skill sets and related learning needs for audit professionals in SMPs.
Our seminars, guidance materials and other offerings continue to keep members up to date on the latest standards. We also kept members informed on latest developments in the profession via the SAAC Series. For the first time, we lined up a series of conferences under the SAAC banner – ISCA Budget Update Seminar, Practitioners Conference, Technology Conference (TechCountx), Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) conference and the Singapore Accountancy Awards. Each event was targeted at specific audience segments, in line with our goal to be a membercentric organisation. In addition, we are collaborating with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to grant members mutual access to a range of CPE programmes at preferential rates.
ISCA is the voice of the profession in the application of accounting standards on emerging issues and new accounting standards. Where a matter is pervasive to the accountancy profession, ISCA issues communiques to promulgate our views and guide the Singapore accountancy profession. Examples of such communiques include the treatment of variable rent leases by JTC Corporation under SFRS(I) 16; and the accounting of costs incurred in fulfilling contracts with customers under SFRS(I) 15.
In early 2019, we issued a series of five Tech Bites on the principles to consider when performing the solely payments of principal and interest on the principal amount outstanding test. During the rest of the year, we will develop practical guidance publications on topics like initial coin offerings (ICOs) and the use of data analytics in financial statements audits.
In 2018, we introduced new disciplines to enable our members to broaden their career options. Launched in January 2018, the ISCA-SUSS Business Analytics Certification Programme enables individuals to deepen their skill sets in data analytics. The ISCA Financial Forensic Accounting Qualification (FFA Qualification) was launched in March 2018. These specialisation pathways enable our members to deepen their expertise and build skills in highdemand areas. This enhances their career portability and elevates their career prospects.
In 2019, we will be organising a conference on financial forensics and cybersecurity, areas that are growing in importance in the digital economy. Additionally, we are developing the ISCA Infrastructure Finance Qualification with Ernst & Young (EY), to equip members for finance roles in the dynamic infrastructure sectors. We are also exploring the development of a cybersecurity certificate programme, which will equip participants with competencies beyond the traditional field of accounting.
We continue to help SMPs build capabilities and improve productivity, partnering Enterprise Singapore to drive transformation under the Local Enterprise and Association Development programme. To support SMPs’ internationalisation efforts, we continue to organise overseas business missions that enable audit practitioners from SMPs to explore opportunities in other countries.
We also continue to encourage implementation of the “Audit Singapore” software, which enables SMPs to automate and streamline their audit work flow. To support audit professionals from SMPs in carrying out group audits, we published the ISCA Audit Manual for Group Entities. The manual helps audit professionals apply Singapore Standard on Auditing 600 “Singapore Considerations - Audits of Group Financial Statements (Including the work of Component Auditors)” in group audits.
To enhance the prestige as well as to show our appreciation for our members, we launched the Member Recognition Programme in October last year. For the first time, members who have attained 50 years of membership received their 50 Years Recognition Award. In 2019, the programme will be expanded to include members who have been with the Institute for 10, 20, 30, and 40 years. They will be issued digital badges that can be displayed on social media platforms. This will make their achievements visible to their employers, colleagues and peers.
The Institute is also looking to recruit ISCA members who are either based in ASEAN or conduct business in ASEAN to be ISCA ASEAN Ambassadors who will promote and connect ISCA to the overseas business and accountancy community. Through the ambassadors, the ASEAN market can get to know the ISCA brand. Members will benefit from access to a wider and more diverse network in the ASEAN markets, bringing more business and employment opportunities.
MAKING STRIDES GLOBALLY
Beyond our initiatives to advance the accountancy profession in Singapore, we have enhanced our prominence on the global platform. ISCA representatives shared our views at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in May and October 2018. And I spoke at the 2018 World Congress of Accountants in my capacity as the President of the ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) about the profession’s role in supporting the growth of Southeast Asia as an economic region. ISCA also played host to the Chartered Accountants Worldwide Board and CEO meetings in Singapore, and together with the ASC, organised the 10th annual AOSSG meeting, which brought together representatives from 20 national accounting standard-setters in the Asian-Oceanian region as well as key representatives from the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation.
In November 2017, the Monitoring Group issued a consultation paper setting out various options to enhance the governance, accountability and oversight of the international audit standard-setting process. The Monitoring Group comprises a group of international financial institutions and regulatory bodies committed to advancing the public interest in areas related to international audit standardsetting and audit quality. As part of the series of roundtables held around the world by the Monitoring Group, I represented ISCA to give our views on the consultation. Subsequently, ISCA hosted a roundtable in Singapore in June 2018 to enable the Monitoring Group to further discuss the proposals from the consultation in smaller groups. The session was attended by local auditors, directors, academia, regulators as well as representatives from International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
We have also intensified our role as a leading professional accountancy body in ASEAN. As part of our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lao Chamber of Professional Accountants and Auditors to co-develop the accountancy sector in Lao PDR, we continue to conduct training for Lao government officials. Supported by Temasek Foundation International and developed in partnership with the Lao Ministry of Finance, the ISCA-Temasek Foundation Public Administration Programme in Accountancy trains senior and mid-level Lao government officials in leadership and accountancy skills.
Similarly, ISCA has held training programmes in Myanmar, following our MOU with the Myanmar Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) in 2017 to co-develop the accountancy profession in Myanmar through capability-building programmes. In 2018, the Institute conducted training on ISCA Audit Manual for Standalone Entities for MICPA members. Following positive feedback, MICPA requested ISCA to conduct another training on the ISCA Audit Manual for Group Entities in May 2019.
The Institute is working with the Vietnam Association of Certified Public Accountants on an MOU regarding the country’s adaptation and translation of the ISCA Audit Manual. Cambodia’s accounting standard-setting body, National Accounting Council (NAC) has also expressed its intention to legislate for the use of ISCA’s Micro-Accounting Model (MAM) in the country.
These activities reaffirm ISCA’s role as a regional thought leader in accountancy. In an increasingly globalised world, it is important for the Institute to elevate our brand visibility not just across the ASEAN region, but also internationally. As ISCA elevates its brand internationally, the stature and employability of Singapore accountants will correspondingly be enhanced globally.
Through our efforts, we aim to open more doors for our members in the global marketplace, offering them greater career portability, market access and professional recognition. To be an effective influencer in the region and Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants 14 beyond, ISCA will have to continually develop intellectual property (IP). We can then leverage our IP to enhance ISCA’s standing and thus have greater credibility when we promote various qualification and pathway programmes in the region.
I would also like to encourage our members, especially the younger ones entering the profession, to look beyond Singapore for career opportunities. This is important for ISCA to make strides globally. As an institution, we can only do so much. The key to making waves is when our members make an impact on the ground. We need our members to venture beyond Singapore. Accountancy training truly offers you a myriad of opportunities globally. There are also many opportunities in the growing ASEAN region. As you broaden your experience and gain exposure in global markets, more growth opportunities will be open to you in the increasingly globalised business landscape and make you more competitive.
During my tenure as ISCA President, I hope to develop the Institute into a world-class organisation that embodies the following elements – inclusiveness, innovation, infrastructure and impact. A world-class Institute is one that the profession and market would look to, to champion certain areas like thought leadership, deep technical expertise or development of our members. Being member-centric means placing our members at the core of what we do. For example, to ensure that our members can access our services and information easily, we will be revamping our website to be more user-friendly and will roll out a mobile app for onthe- go convenience. We will continue to enhance our CPE offerings too.
By Inclusiveness, we will strive to ensure that the needs of all segments of our membership are well taken care of. To that end, we have a range of service offerings to meet our members’ diverse needs. Innovation means we constantly deliver new and relevant offerings centred on enhancing member-centricity and improving productivity. Infrastructure refers to the systems and services we have in place for our members to plan their development and achieve their career aspirations. Impact refers to how we execute our strategy – by focusing on what matters most and creates value for our members. Together, these four elements work synergistically to further our mission to advance and promote the accountancy profession and contribute to Singapore’s aspiration to be a leading global accountancy hub, be the voice for our members and the profession, and empower members to achieve their aspirations.
The world has become more complex and changes are coming at a much more rapid pace. But the professional judgment and knowledge that accountants bring to the table remain the same and are just as valuable in the changing environment, if not even more so. No matter what role they are playing – risk manager, auditor, CEO or CFO – accountants deliver value through exercising and communicating judgment. These are complex human skills that deal with matters beyond pure hard facts, numbers and automation.
This is a time of accelerated change. The adage that an accountant must never stop learning is now more relevant than ever. With any new endeavour, it is inevitable that there will be a learning curve. For some members, the learning curve may be steeper. ISCA, in partnership with government and industry, will continue to support our members in their professional aspirations in the shift to Industry 4.0.
With a strong management team and together with the astute leadership of the Council, I am confident that the Institute is well-prepared for the race ahead. Together, we will strive to bring the Institute and the profession to the next level as we go for gold.
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