- The ISCA Support Fund is a unique and holistic scheme that aims to position the profession for success in the post-COVID-19 environment.
8 February, 2021 – The national accountancy body, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), has set up the ISCA Support Fund, worth $8 million, to help the accountancy profession build resilience and emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the ISCA Support Fund, ISCA has developed a unique and holistic set of initiatives, catering to the differing needs of Small and Medium Practices (SMPs) and accountancy professionals amid the current economic climate, thereby enabling them to thrive in the post-COVID-19 environment.
With the support of Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) SG Together Enhancing Enterprise Resilience (STEER) programme, $3 million will go towards accelerating the digital transformation and upskilling efforts of small and medium-sized accounting firms (SMPs) and provide working capital for transformation efforts to companies affected by the pandemic. Through the STEER programme, ESG will match $1 for every $2 contributed by ISCA to help strengthen and transform businesses. Another S$3 million will go towards reskilling and upskilling ISCA members for the post-COVID-19 environment, and $2 million will go towards supporting members in financial hardship by offsetting their membership and training fees.
The ISCA Support Fund aims to help accounting firms and accountancy professionals make deeper and more strategic shifts so that they can emerge stronger and seize the opportunities arising in the New Normal. Broadly, the ISCA Support Fund has three strategic thrusts – Support Businesses, Sustain Livelihoods of Accountancy Professionals and Safeguard Professional Credentials.
Mr Kon Yin Tong, ISCA’s President, said “There are long-term structural changes to the economic environment arising from COVID-19, and the profession will need to adapt and transform itself so that it is ready when recovery takes place. We introduced the ISCA Support Fund to meet this urgent need, so that the accountancy profession can be prepared to meet the challenges ahead and be well-positioned for the future.”
Like all businesses, the SMPs, which support the majority of Singapore’s Small and Medium Enterprises, have needed to accelerate the pace of their digital transformation efforts to ensure business continuity amid the pandemic.
To encourage SMPs to fast-track digital transformation, the ISCA Support Fund will support SMPs in the three pillars of business growth, capability upgrading and business sustenance.
(1) Business Growth
With the pandemic impacting many businesses, especially SMEs, there is an urgent need for SMPs to tap new business opportunities and generate new revenue streams to ensure sustainability. To support SMPs in diversifying their service offerings, ISCA has identified potential high-growth areas which SMPs can enter into, such as business compliance and advisory. To address the skills gap in the SMP sector, the Institute is working with trainers to curate relevant programmes and rolling out certification courses in these high-growth areas. Eligible SMPs can receive funding to upskill and reskill their staff in these high-growth areas.
(2) Capability Upgrading
Complementing existing government schemes to accelerate digitalisation, the ISCA Support Fund will support SMPs in building their digital capabilities by offsetting the cost of digital solutions specially curated for SMPs. These solutions, such as the digital signing and telecommuting tools, enable SMPs to grow their operations without increasing their office premises and corresponding rental costs, which form the bulk of the SMPs’ operating costs. They also enable SMPs to work remotely and boost their productivity. In addition, tools such as digital analytics software enable SMPs to offer new value-add services in the form of data analysis and data-driven business recommendations. For advisory on the digital tools and their implementation, SMPs can approach the online SMP Centre, run by ISCA to support SMPs’ growth and transformation.
Eligible SMPs can receive up to $10,000 each to fund their Business Growth and Capability Upgrading initiatives.
(3) Business Sustenance
With cashflow being a priority for businesses in the post-Covid-19 operating environment, the Support Grant will provide a working capital grant of $5,000 each for SMPs whose businesses are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing cashflow issues.
Sustain Livelihoods of Accountancy Professionals
In 2020, Singapore experienced its worst recession since 1965, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With businesses tightening their belts, and jobs displacement driven by advances in technology and continuous digital transformation, the question of livelihoods and employability has emerged as top priority for many accountancy professionals.
To sustain the livelihoods of accountancy professionals, ISCA has set aside $3 million for the upskilling and reskilling of more than 32,000 ISCA members. Each member will receive $100 in the form of a Continuous Professional Education (CPE) voucher to offset their training costs. Currently, ISCA has more than 500 webinars in diverse topics and more than 400 courses in its eLearning library, in addition to more than 50 webinars that are complimentary for ISCA members.
The Institute continues to add to its CPE offerings, especially courses and programmes in emerging skills such as financial forensics, infrastructure and project finance, data analytics and visualisation.
Safeguard Professional Credentials
The effects of COVID-19 have reverberated through the labour market. According to the latest market report, 9,100 workers were retrenched in the third quarter of 2020, higher than the peak recorded during other recessions except the 2009 global financial crisis. Inevitably, some accountancy professionals may face job losses. To support members who are facing financial hardship, ISCA has set aside $2 million for membership fee waivers. Each member facing financial hardship will also receive 20 complimentary hours of continuing professional development training, enabling them to acquire new skills that enhance their employability. In view of the challenging economic conditions, ISCA has also relaxed its eligibility criteria for membership fee waivers. By giving members in financial hardship waivers to their membership fee, this will enable them to retain their internationally-recognised professional credential, which is important in maintaining their employability in an especially competitive job market.
The ISCA Support Fund announced today is a continuation of ISCA’s efforts to help the accountancy profession amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. In 2020, ISCA had rolled out a support package worth up to $3.6 million and a slew of initiatives to help the profession tide through the crisis. Categorised under the broad themes of Career Support, Resources and Virtual Learning Support, these initiatives included a job matching service for ISCA members, an online COVID-19 resource centre, a career portal and an eLearning Space with live webinars and eLearning modules in various topics.
“I encourage members to make full use of ISCA’s suite of support schemes and resources. Times of crisis also bring unique opportunities. Accountancy professionals and accounting firms can use this time to upgrade their capabilities and uncover new business possibilities, so that they are ready when the recovery happens,” added Mr Kon.
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Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
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The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) is the national accountancy
body of Singapore. ISCA’s vision is to be a world-class accountancy body of trusted
professionals, contributing towards an innovative and sustainable economy. There are
over 32,000 ISCA members making their stride in businesses across industries in
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Established in 1963, ISCA is an advocate of the interests of the profession. Possessing
a Global Mindset, with Asian Insights, ISCA leverages its regional expertise, knowledge,
and networks with diverse stakeholders to contribute towards Singapore’s transformation
into a global accountancy hub.
ISCA is the Designated Entity to confer the Chartered Accountant of Singapore
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