News

Articles:

The role of technology in Singapore’s vision to be a global accountancy hub

The role of technology in Singapore’s vision to be a global accountancy hub

As reported
earlier
, accountancy is one of five key sub-sectors of the
Professional Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) launched in January
this year to develop Singapore into a globally-leading Professional Services
Industry driven by innovation and partnerships. Sharing the collective goal
with the other four key subs-sectors are advertising, architecture and
engineering, consulting, and legal, the ITM targets an annual growth rate of
4.6% to reach $31 billion in value-add by 2020, and to create 5,500 new PMET jobs
per year.  

Singapore recently
launched
a S$2.4-million Digital Transformation for Accountancy Programme to help firms adopt
technology, and the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Financial Forensic
Professionals.

The announcement was made by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime
Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Law, Finance and Education, who shared
the accountancy roadmap and new initiatives to develop the sector to be
future-ready, at the Practitioners
Conference 2018
, organised by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
(ISCA).

Developed by the
Singapore Accountancy Commission
(SAC) together with other
government agencies including the Economic Development Board (EDB), Enterprise
Singapore
(ESG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), the Roadmap
charts the direction for the sector over the next 5 to 10 years to develop
Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub. It targets an annual growth of
5.6% to reach S$2.03 billion in nominal value-add and to create 2000 new PMET
jobs by 2020.

According the Mr Evan Law, Chief Executive of the SAC, the
Roadmap will position Singapore well to lead in providing high value specialist
services and will require close collaboration among all industry players to
realise our shared vision of developing Singapore into a leading global hub.

The accountancy roadmap comprises four pillars:
Productivity; Re-skilling and Upskilling; Innovation; and Internationalisation.

(1)   
Productivity

According
the Singapore’s national accountancy census conducted by SAC, AEcensus
2016/17
, Accounting Entities (AEs) which adopted
technology indicated significant improvements with time savings of around 28%,
cost savings of 14% and 8% increase in revenue.

The accountancy
sector can streamline work processes by leveraging technology. However,
perceived high cost and lack of knowledge to choose appropriate software were
cited as reasons for not adopting technology. 

Through the
roadmap, initiatives will be put in place to help firms adopt technology to
spur growth and productivity:

The Digital
Transformation for Accountancy (DTACT) Programme

 A total of S$2.4 million has been allocated to the DTACT
Programme
to help Small and Medium Practices (SMPs) adopt baseline
technologies. SMPs will be able to get funding support of up to 70% for the
first year of adoption of solutions, with total grant amount capped at
S$30,000,  in each of the following
software: Practice Management System, Tax, and Internal Audit.

The programme is funded by Enterprise Singapore and will be
administered by SAC, with assistance from the Infocomm Media Development
Authority (IMDA) to pre-approve and curate digital solutions. It will open for
applications in the third quarter of 2018.

“Enterprise Singapore partnered Singapore Accountancy
Commission on the DTACT Programme to help more accounting entities improve
their productivity with technology. It is about using technology to help the
accounting fraternity be more rigorous and freeing them to do higher value-add
work. This programme hopefully will enable these companies to sharpen their
competitive edge as they look to capture more opportunities both locally and
globally,” said Mr Satvinder Singh, Assistant Chief Executive Officer,
Enterprise Singapore.

IMDA e-invoicing Framework

To ensure seamless transactions between businesses, SAC is
working with IMDA on the nationwide
e-invoicing framework
which will utilise the international
Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) standard. E-invoicing is
expected to bring about significant efficiency gains and cost savings to
businesses in Singapore. Accounting professionals can expect improved
productivity from the automation of invoice generation and processing. It could
also potentially offer improved cross-border e-invoicing with overseas
businesses which are also on the same e-invoice standard.

As reported earlier, IMDA is the first national PEPPOL
authority outside of Europe and the first National Authority in Asia to adopt
the e-invoicing standard which enables the exchange of standardised
machine-readable documents over its network.

(2)   
Skills development

The roadmap
plans to attract and train PMETs to move into new accountancy jobs in high
growth areas, upskill workers in jobs affected by the digital disruption,
and strengthen AEs’ Human Resource capabilities. 

On top of
the current
programmes
to develop future-ready professionals, a new Professional
Conversion Programme for Financial Forensic Professionals
(PCP-FFP)
has been launched. As part of the Adapt and Grow initiative, this new PCP
targets and helps mid-career PMETs to re-skill and embark on a new career in
Financial Forensic. Individuals with background in law enforcement, information
system, accounting and finance will be preferred.

PCP-FFP is a place-and-train programme that comprises
on-the-job training and completion of the ISCA Financial Forensic Accounting
(FFA) Qualification. Trainees will be able to complete the programme in 10
months or longer, with salary support available for up to 6 months. The ISCA
Financial Forensic Accounting (FFA) Qualification is the first applied learning
financial forensic qualification developed by a professional body in the
region.

(3)   
Innovate

The roadmap also supports firms to diversify into high value accounting
services through business model and technology innovation. This will be achieved by having
more Centres of Excellence to drive new capabilities in emerging high value
services and new innovation labs to promote technology collaborations within
the industry. International accounting technology players will also be courted
to set up their regional R&D centres in Singapore.

To drive
business and technology innovation within the accountancy sector,
Singapore launched its first
accounting Hackathon
on 2 June. Called the Accounting Innovation Challenge, participants will work with mentors
from the accountancy firms to co-create new business ideas and innovative
solutions to solve problems from the industry.

(4)   
Internationalisation

To position Singapore well to be a market leader in
high-value specialist services, initiatives will be launched to capture international demand in high
growth areas; and promote Singapore as a leading exchange for accountancy, and
thought-leadership. Enterprise Singapore, together with other
Government agencies, will strengthen efforts to assist AEs to leverage on trade
missions, and business and networking platforms to build inroads into overseas
markets.

In conclusion,these
four pillars will help accounting entities and individuals capture
opportunities in the high-growth practice areas as cited by the Committee
for the Future Economy’s Working Group for Legal and Accounting Services
,
which are Business Valuation, Debt Restructuring and Insolvency, Finance,
Internal Audit, and Risk Management & Corporate Governance.