2010 - April
Speech by Guest of Honour ICPAS President Dr Ernest Kan at the Graduation Session for the SIM-UOL Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance
15 Apr 2010 Category: Speeches
A. Opening Greetings
Sir Graeme Davies, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London;
Professor Jonathan Kydd, Dean of the External System of the University of London;
Mr Richard Eu, Chairman of SIM Governing Council;
Adjunct Professor Lee Kwok Cheong, Chief Executive Officer of SIM Pte Ltd;
Distinguished Guests, Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen;
A very Good Morning to you all
I’m honoured to be here. I understand that today 450 students will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, of which 182 will be graduating with First and Second Class Honours. This is an important day for the graduands and I share your joy in celebrating this significant milestone, together with your friends and family, fellow classmates, professors and lecturers.
While today is an occasion to celebrate your graduation, it is also an occasion for you to remind yourself that we rarely achieve things on our own. There are the families, many are parents, who are here today and who have supported you, the lecturers and colleagues who have encouraged you. So today you must not forget to thank them for their many helps, for months of toil and tears prior to your examination success.
I should also congratulate the parents and the relatives here with us today. You have made it possible for these wonderful young people to gather here and proudly bask in this memorable moment of achievement, a moment they will treasure for the rest of their lives. You deserve so much credit for making this possible for them. But always remember; they lived up to your expectations and rewarded you with their achievements. Be forever proud of them.
B. SIM-UOL’s 24-Year Partnership
I would like to congratulate SIM and UOL on their successful partnership of 24 years, for having trained many accounting and finance professionals. The SIM-UOL programme is now the largest of its kind worldwide, with over 8,000 students in 10 degrees and 7 diploma programmes.
C. What an Accounting Degree Means, Adding to Talent Pool
To the graduands, it is an exciting time to enter the accountancy sector. The Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector in Singapore (“CDAS”), in which I am a part of as a representative from ICPAS, has put forth its recommendations for the vision to develop Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub. Some of you may have read the news stories in the press yesterday. In order to support this vision, it is crucial for the nation to have a talent pool of skilled accountancy and business professionals. This is where you, equipped with the skills and knowledge, can make a difference and contribute to the economy and society. As the world recovers from the financial crisis, there will be even greater demand for talented and skilled professionals, and an even larger arena for accountancy and finance graduates to make an impact in the business world.
D. CPE and Professional Qualification
The world today is characterised by rapid advancements in technology, increasing globalisation and the transition into a knowledge-based economy. What this means for today’s business professional is that one must continually learn new skills. In such an environment, we cannot expect the knowledge we received in school to last us a lifetime. So your degree is but a first step. It should be a portal that will expand your horizon and bring you more opportunities as well as lead to a lifelong learning journey. As President of ICPAS and as an auditing professional, I know firsthand the importance of obtaining a Professional Qualification and Continuing Professional Education to one’s career development. By Professional Qualification, let me be a bit “personal”, earn a CPA Singapore designation. One must never stop learning. We live in a world of constant change but this truth doesn’t change – the education you have acquired cannot be taken away from you. Your education can be likened to the sail in your boat that catches the wind propelling you forward as you navigate your career path.
E. Ethical Conduct
Along the same lines, if your education is the sail in your boat, your moral values and integrity must be the compass that will provide the direction for your path. It may sound like an old-fashioned term but I cannot stress enough the importance of integrity in one’s personal and professional life. Instead of a long lecture, I think if I could remind us of a few recent events, that would drive the message home.
(1) Bernard Madoff was a wealthy investment advisor in the US, overseeing investments worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Today he is facing a jail term of 150 years and known for being the operator of possibly the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
(2) Satyam Computer Services was a much admired IT outsourcing firm and was once India's fourth-biggest software services exporter. That was before the news of a large scale accounting scandal, in which the company had been falsely inflating its profits for years. B. Ramalinga Raju, founder and former chairman of Satyam, who admitted to committing the fraud, is currently serving a jail sentence. The list goes on.
F. Challenge to Graduands
Today, I would like to pose a challenge to the graduands in our midst. In the world around us, there are many problems yet to be resolved. The world is just recovering from one of the worst financial crises ever. The actions and failures of large corporations have caused massive devastation on the lives of many individuals. Cases of corporate fraud of a large scale continue to recur. Global warming, depletion of natural resources and pollution are real threats to human existence and sustainability will be a key consideration for organisations. The challenge I pose to you is:
(1) How can you, as a finance and accounting professional, be part of the solution?
(2) As you enter the working world armed with your tertiary education, how will you choose to make a difference?
Without doubt, it is important to make a living and, certainly your degree in accounting and finance will open doors for you in your professional careers. But more importantly, I hope you will also consider what you can do with your education to create an impactful, meaningful life for yourself. Perhaps some of you will come up with advancements in risk analytics, or start your own company and be social entrepreneurs, or conceptualise schemes that can help your company reduce costs and its carbon footprint at the same time. The opportunities to make a difference are endless.
Let me say this, in closing,
Each one of you will develop and progress through your life at your own unique pace.
Each one of you will dream different dreams, and
Each will win and lose at your own pace.
As you leave here today, I ask each of you to look inside yourself and find that indomitable spirit that resides there. Find it and set it free within you. That spirit is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to light; LIGHT THAT FIRE.
Thank you for allowing me to share this special moment with you, and like you, I will savour the memory of this occasion.
Once again, congratulations on your special day.
May God bless you all.