2011 - August
Speech by ICPAS President Dr Ernest Kan at ICPAS’ EGM on August 27, 2011
27 Aug 2011 Category: Speeches
My fellow Council Members and members of ICPAS
Today is August 27, a very special day for ICPAS because we are here to seek your consent on the proposed changes to ICPAS’ Constitution. This is a historic event for the Institute, as it is the first time ICPAS is proposing changes to its Constitution, which fundamentally defines what ICPAS stands for and provides the principles by which the Institute operates going forward.
Many of you may have arrived here after casting your vote at the Presidential Election, similarly a historic event for our nation. After casting your vote for the presidential candidate of your choice, we hope you will now give us your vote of confidence to work on taking ICPAS to its next level of development.
It was not our original intention to schedule the EGM on the same day as the Presidential Election. It is simply that the date for the EGM was set before news on the election date emerged. Nevertheless, it seems like a good omen and happy coincidence that one of the most important events for the Institute coincides with one of the most important events for our nation. On behalf of the ICPAS Council, I would like to thank you for taking the time on this public holiday to join us here.
Reason for Constitution Review
As I mentioned, this is the first Constitution Review the Institute has undertaken. The proposed amendments are aimed at propelling ICPAS onto the international arena, supporting our goal to be a professional accountancy body with a global outlook, membership and standing. This is in fact one of the recommendations under the Singapore Government’s over-arching vision to make Singapore a global accountancy hub by 2020. This means that the changes will impact not just the Institute, but also the profession and the sector’s future development.
Later today, we will share with you the salient amendments to the Constitution. I trust that you have read and noted the amendments in the EGM book.
Rigorous Review Process
In conducting the review process, the Institute took a consultative and transparent approach, making sure that we obtain feedback from various stakeholder groups. The review process was facilitated by a third-party management consultant, Mr Andrew Sng of DPI Asia, to ensure independence. The process involved a series of interviews with the regulators, Big 4 and Mid-Tier firms as well as focus group sessions with cross-sections of ICPAS’ membership base. To give you an inkling of the extensiveness of the review, we held a total of almost 20 meetings with various stakeholder groups over several months. These comprise four focus group sessions with different groups of members, five interview sessions with the Big Four and Mid-Tier firms, separate meetings with respective government agencies prior to the issuance of the Consultation Paper, and three town hall forums for members during the Consultation period. This was to ensure that the views of the Institute’s stakeholders are taken into consideration in the review process.
In addition to the feedback sessions, the Institute also conducted research and comparative studies of the charter and constitution of leading accountancy bodies in major jurisdictions as well as the local professional bodies.
Taking into account the feedback and findings, we then fleshed out the proposed changes to the Constitution for consideration by the ICPAS Council. There were lively discussions at the Council level, and finally in early June this year, ICPAS Council issued a Consultation Paper on Proposals to amend the ICPAS Constitution.
While the process took us some time and a lot of effort, we are very pleased that it has resulted in a sound Consultation Paper, backed by the fact that the Institute received positive feedback, which in turn affirmed that we are on the right track. To quote just one example, Prof Mak Yuen Teen, Associate Professor of Accounting at NUS, commented that the key amendments are “all positive and good proposals.”
At the close of the consultation, ICPAS received responses from the government agencies, Big 4 firms, members and other interested parties. The collective feedback was then carefully reviewed by the ICPAS Council in a final round of deliberation, leading to the amendments that we are sharing with you today.
Strengthened Governance Framework
In putting forth the amendments, we took into consideration best corporate governance practices and made revisions where appropriate. While the amendments to the Constitution will normally take effect from the date of sanction by the Registrar of Societies, the Institute is keen to be more robust in terms of its governance and in this light, has decided to effect certain provisions retrospectively through transitional arrangements. Hence, there will be retrospective application of the cap on the tenure for Council members who are due to retire at the AGMs to be held in 2012 and 2013. Those who have served for more than three terms and are due to retire in 2012 will be eligible for re-election for a further term of two years. Those who have served more than three terms and are due to retire in 2013 will step down.
Moving forward, the Council intends to develop a governance framework, incorporating the proposed Audit and Nominations Committees, complete with a Governance Manual setting out the leadership roles and management structure that embraces a stronger full-time executive management of the Institute.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed toward the review process. We were able to complete this only with the hard work, assistance and support you rendered. A big thank you to my fellow Council Members who gave their views and much of their time in rounds of discussion, the ICPAS Secretariat comprising Executive Director Ms Janet Tan and her team for conducting extensive research, comparative studies, and feedback analysis, and management consultant Mr Andrew Sng for conducting the focus groups and stakeholder interviews. Last but not least, I would like to thank our members and other stakeholders who have given their time and effort to offer invaluable feedback, enabling us to distill insights and produce the amendments we have today.
Creating Future Success
We meet here today because ICPAS is preparing itself and the profession for the next phase of the accountancy sector’s development. We are living in a rapidly changing world, a world that is globalising more rapidly and a business environment that is becoming more complex by the day. ICPAS, as the national accountancy body, cannot stand still. It must evolve in tandem with these changes. This is the best way for ICPAS to serve the needs of the profession and ensure that you, our members, continue to grow and develop relevant skills and capabilities for the changing world.
The next few years will be especially critical for ICPAS as we move into our next phase of expansion. We need to continue to build capabilities and boost our infrastructure. We need to focus on putting in place processes and systems that are aligned with that of a professional accountancy body with a global membership, outlook and standing. We need to continue to work towards being a dynamic organisation that supports Singapore’s growth as a global accountancy hub.
We are not too far from 2020. Now is the time for the profession to band together, and contribute to growth strategies and action plans that will impact not only our sector but indeed our country’s future economic success in the global business environment.
Seen in this light, the fact that today you need to give your votes to both the nation and the Institute is indeed symbolic, for the futures of the accountancy sector and the Singapore economy are in no small way intertwined.
Just as Singapore belongs to every Singaporean, the Institute belongs to each and every member. This is your ICPAS, as much as this is my ICPAS, and we all have a stake in its future. I ask that you consider carefully the changes to be put before you, as we build a strong ICPAS and a brighter future for our Institute, and thus set the conditions that will create a strong success story for our beloved country’s future.