26 May 2011
ICPAS’ Research Shows Strong Support for Vision to Transform Singapore into a Global Accountancy Hub
- However, training budgets and talent management schemes need to be boosted
Research by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) shows strong support for the Government’s vision for Singapore to develop into a global accountancy hub by 2020, and the recommendations set out by the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) to achieve this vision.
In a survey on this, 91% of respondents indicated they believed that professional development avenues such as a post-graduate, structured professional accountancy qualification will help strengthen and broaden the accountancy talent pool, and 89% firmly believe that the qualification will help Singapore develop into a global accountancy hub. In addition, 95% indicated that the professional development of Chief Financial Officers and development of specialisation pathways in internal audit, risk management, business valuation and international tax will enhance the sector’s capabilities.
ICPAS conducted the survey as part of its research on talent management trends within the accountancy sector. In all, the Institute conducted four surveys and polls on the subject this year. Talent management is vital to the Singapore Government’s vision to transform the country into a leading global accountancy hub for the Asia-Pacific region by 2020. The Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council is driving initiatives to achieve this, based on the CDAS recommendations.
ICPAS President Dr Ernest Kan said: “The survey results suggest strong support for the CDAS recommendations and in general the profession has bought into the vision to transform Singapore into a global accountancy hub by 2020.”
Although results indicate that the profession in general strongly supports and believes in the Government’s vision for the accountancy sector, 95% of respondents indicated that more government funding and support are needed to transform Singapore into a global accountancy hub. These include training subsidies and grants as well as tax incentives and reliefs for CPA firms to offset staff training expenses. Respondents suggested making it mandatory for companies to send their accounting and finance staff for training and development.
One in Two Commercial Accountants Not Allocated Training Budget
In the survey on training budgets, one in every two commercial accountants (51%) indicated they were not allocated an annual training budget. In particular, 46% of executives and 51% of middle management from commercial entities responded they were not allocated training budgets. In contrast, 93% of public accountants reported the existence of a training budget.
The research results also indicated that a factor could be low awareness levels for government assistance schemes. Half of the respondents (51%) surveyed reported they were not aware that their companies can claim up to 400% tax deduction under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme for training expenses incurred. Seventy-two percent were positive that their companies would sponsor their CPE training, if they were aware that the expense qualifies for PIC deduction.
Dr Kan said: “More needs to be done in terms of raising awareness on how businesses can leverage on the PIC to grow and upgrade their skills and operations as well as invest in productivity and innovation.”
Research also showed a lack of talent management initiatives. In the survey on salary increments, while most respondents (92%) were optimistic about their pay increases, about half (51%) replied that they were not aware of any talent management initiatives in their company. Among the 49% who indicated that their company had such schemes, bonus or incentive payouts (41%) appeared to be the most popular measure to retain staff.
“Besides bonus payouts, employees also value training opportunities, job rotation and work-life balance initiatives such as flexible work hours. In a profession where the war for talent is poised to intensify, companies should pay more attention to these talent retention schemes,” Dr Kan added.
Audit and Banking Continue to Garner Strong Interest
To understand the career aspirations of Gen Y, ICPAS also conducted a survey with final year accountancy students. The survey found that external audit (42%) and banking (30%) continued to be popular career choices with respondents. Fifty-eight percent of respondents cited “personal interest” as the main factor in determining their career choice while 54% cited “diversity of career opportunities”. Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated a desire to work overseas. Eighty-five percent indicated a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification will help them achieve their career goals and indicated the desire to obtain the designation.
Dr Kan said: “Given Singapore’s status as a global financial hub, it is not surprising that many chose to go into external audit and banking, as there is healthy demand for these positions. And with the majority of Gen Y respondents indicating a strong desire to work overseas, the development of the post-university qualification programme is vital. The programme is designed to be internationally portable and recognised in key capital markets.”
In total, the research studies received over 900 responses, with respondents comprising accounting professionals from commercial entities, CPA firms and final year accountancy undergraduates from three major local universities.
Please click here for detailed reports and analysis of the 4 surveys.
The Straits Times: Banking a big draw for students doing accountancy
The Business Times: Only 42% of accounting grads keen on external auditing: poll
联合 早报: 三成会计系毕业生进入银行业 会计师协会希望会计领域能吸引更多人才
Today: Accounting firms need to focus on talent management, says ICPAS
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