Lynette Khoo | The Business Times | Mon May 21 2012
The proposed framework for a new post-graduate accountancy programme will be “nothing short of transformational”.
The Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council (SAC) said this of the Singapore Qualification Programme (SQP) yesterday, when the details were released in a public consultation paper.
The framework is designed to be comparable to those of major professional accountancy bodies in the world, but with a unique “Asian market value factor”.
Under the proposed SQP, candidates will take modules in a Professional Programme and concurrently go through a minimum three years of training commitment in an approved audit firm, corporate or public sector institution under the supervision of an approved mentor.
Non-accounting graduates have to first go through a Gateway Programme of six to 12 months before taking the Professional Programme.
This Singapore-branded qualification, touted as key to altering the very DNA of the accountancy sector, is among 10 proposals by the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) to transform Singapore into a global accountancy hub.
The pro-tem SAC chief executive Uantchern Loh said the SQP, to be rolled out in June next year, seeks to be “robust and practical”.
“CDAS report’s objective is to make Singapore a global accountancy hub in Asia-Pacific and the SQP will be our flagship programme that will showcase our abilities and capabilities and a chance for us to say that we are not just on par with the world but we are beyond what the rest of the world have,” Mr Loh said.
He noted that the pipeline of potential candidates for the SQP is strong, given the ready pool of accountancy graduates who have not done a CPA Singapore or CPA Australia, as well as the non-accounting graduates who want to use this window to enter the accounting profession.
The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) now has close to 25,000 members, though there could be 60,000 to 70,000 accountancy graduates in Singapore from the three local universities.
Under the current regime, an accountancy graduate can qualify for CPA Singapore after three years of relevant work experience, a five-day pre-admission course and passing a test. CPA Singapore has mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with CPA Australia and ACCA.
While the new SQP framework is designed to be globally recognised and internationally portable, MRAs are not likely to be achieved until the SQP has been in operation for at least three years, the pro-tem SAC said. In the case of Hong Kong, its new qualification programme was launched in June 1999 before its first MRAs were signed in 2002.
The SQP is still a work-in- progress, the pro-tem SAC said. In the next four weeks of public consultation ending June 15, stakeholders will have a say in fine-tuning of the programme such as the modules to be offered, its new title and what to do with the CPA Singapore title.
While there has been some apprehension among ICPAS members about the impact on their existing CPA Singapore title, Dr Kan noted that the SQP “will raise the bar for new members to join ICPAS”, which will only benefit existing members.
Tham Sai Choy, managing partner of KPMG in Singapore, noted that a globally recognised and Asian-focused accounting qualification “will only help enhance the value of existing CPA Singapore qualified accountants as they transition to the new qualification”.
“It will allow their qualification to be regarded as world- class and attuned to Asia’s requirements,” he said. But various details of the SQP still need sorting out, other industry players say.
While the SQP could alleviate the shortage of accountants, there is the question of who will be funding the fees of the programme – whether it be the employers or the candidates themselves, said Max Loh, country managing partner of Ernst & Young.
“What is not clear is the plight of stakeholders especially those currently undergoing accountancy programme in accredited universities,” added Henry Tan, Asia-Pacific chairman of mid-tier audit firm Nexia International. “Clarity should be given on the transitional provisions,” he said. “Any student who applied to enter these universities before June 2013 should be provided with the benefit of following the old regime.”
The pro-tem SAC said it is studying how professional accountancy bodies around the world handle such transitions to “determine an approach that is most appropriate for the Singapore context”.
This article was first published in The Business Times.
Not only Accountants, Underwriters and those in the financial and investment industry should take a module based on Risk Management, to help companies identify risks and investments scenerios.
– Contributed by Oogle.