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Singapore launches Accountancy Industry Digital Plan

image credits: Singapore Accountancy Commission

In light of the various efforts in helping industries transition towards being digitally ready, the Accountancy Industry Digital Plan (IDP) was launched on 22 August 2019.

Held at the Stephen Riady Auditorium @ NTUC, the event saw various members and partners of the accountancy industry attend the event to gain insights into the ongoing industry transformations and initiatives.

The Accountancy IDP is a collaboration between the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), Institute of Singapore Chartered Accounts (ISCA), and the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA).

The vision and objective of the IDP are to promote digital transformation within the accountancy sector and to help small-medium practices (SMPs) with the adoption of technology.

It is a part of IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme which is aimed at providing support to small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in their journey towards digitalisation.

Mr Evan Law, Chief Executive of SAC presented his welcome remarks by addressing how the fourth industrial revolution is approaching. He said that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud technology, data analytics, e-commerce, and FinTech is growing prevalent within the industry.

The Accountancy IDP was launched to support the goals of the Accountancy Roadmap, which was launched in June 2018, to develop Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub. It consisted of four focus areas: Developing and enhancing skills, boosting productivity, fostering innovation, and promoting internationalisation

Mr Law said that the roadmap is lined with the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for professional services which aims to develop Singapore into globally leading professional services industry.

He added that the launch of the IDP will help SMPs adopt technology to “remain competitive and on a broader level accelerate the economic sector’s digital transformation level”.

The three focus areas of the IDP are:

  1. Enhancing digital skills and knowledge
  2. Promoting the adoption of technology
  3. Developing accountancy technology and innovation

The event also saw the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU):

  • Between SAC and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) for the “Establishment of the Accounting Technology and Innovation Centre”
  • Between ISCA and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) for “Enhancing Digital Capabilities of SMPs”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and second minister for finance and education Ms Indranee Rajah gave the keynote address and witnessed the signing of the MOUs.

She stressed that accountants must “evolve their skills to meet the rapidly changing landscape”.

Ms Rajah emphasised that this digital transformation journey of SMPs will be supported by the government.

She said that the IDP is a prime example of the government working closely with the industry as the IDP was developed based on consultations with SMPs and their input on the matter.

She identified perceived initial high costs of adopting technology, lack of technology and work process integration and lack of skills for effective use of technology as the three roadblocks in the digitalisation journey of SMPs.

Ms Rajah announced three upcoming initiatives to further anchor the help for SMPs:

  1. Establishment of SMP centre by ISCA-SAC
  2. Enhancing Digital Capabilities of SMPs
  3. Accounting Technology and Innovation Centre (AccTech Centre)

On the concerns towards the uncertainty of the economic climate, she advised businesses to use the time of economic slowdown and the initiatives provided as part of the IDP to re-position themselves.

SMP centre

A dedicated one-stop source for digital solutions (eg. audit management, data analytics), digital training (eg. cybersecurity, data analytics) and relevant funding support.

It will oversee the roadmap on digital solutions and training, provide a curated list of digital solutions and training programmes, oversee the AccTech Centre and provide funding support.

Enhancing Digital Capabilities of SMPs

This MOU is aimed at supporting SMPs in the adoption and implementation of software and of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) into their work processes. Customised RPA certification courses will be produced for all professionals.

Accounting Technology and Innovation Centre (AccTech Centre)

A hub for fostering experimentation and prototyping of innovation and ideas. SMPs can leverage on SIT’s resources to develop advanced technological solutions or redesign business processes of their company projects.

SMPs can engage in industry collaborations for working on innovation projects or networking with other businesses.

Workshops and symposia will be conducted to help businesses discover current trends in accounting technology. Training and upskilling courses will also be provided on digital skills and innovation.

The event also saw a panel discussion comprising of Mr Chaly Mah, Chairman, SAC, Mr Kon Yin Tong, President, ISCA, and Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive, Sector Transformation, IMDA. It was moderated by Associate Professor Koh Sze Kee, Deputy Cluster Director (Applied Research) & Programme Director (Accountancy Programme), SIT.

The panellists shared a consensus that digital skills training must be undergone by employees of all levels. They said that it is crucial for SMPs to adopt a pro-innovation mindset as many of their clients have started incorporating technologies into their processes.

Ms Lim said that about 10,000 SMEs have signed with IMDA to boost their digitalisation efforts and SMPs will have to do the same to be able to keep up with and better serve their clients.

“Digitalisation is not an option. It has to be done now” stressed Mr Kon.

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