Opening Address by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport at the ICPAS Annual Dinner and Dance 2008, Orchard Hotel Singapore, Ballroom 1 and 2, on 10 October 2008, 8.15pm10 Oct 2008
WORKING TOGETHER, MOVING AHEAD - DEVELOPING THE SINGAPORE ACCOUNTANCY SERVICES SECTOR
Mr Tan Boen Eng, President of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (or ICPAS)
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Often, it is fashionable to begin a speech with "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are living in exciting times". Tonight, even this assertion would be an understatement. Many accountants, lawyers and bankers of course are currently into overdrive mode. Nonetheless for tonight, let's catch a breather and celebrate another fruitful year.
2 It is fitting that the theme for this year's ICPAS Dinner and Dance is "Formula One". It is not only interesting and topical but also quite apt in the accounting context.
3 The success of the Singapore Grand Prix took a strong collaborative effort from the organisers and various government agencies, and was the culmination of a year of hard work and effort. Similarly, the development of the accountancy services sector in Singapore is a joint collaboration between the various stakeholders, from the accountants to the regulatory authorities and the professional bodies. Specifically, ICPAS serves as an important catalyst for the growth of the accountancy services sector, being the leading voice of the accountancy profession in Singapore. Let me now touch briefly on some of ICPAS' achievements this year.
Global alliances and partnerships
4 ICPAS, in collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, jointly launched the internationally recognised Associated Chartered Accountant (or ACA) qualification in Singapore in September this year.
5 This is a positive development. In today's world where globalisation is taking place at an ever-increasing pace, building global alliances and offering top quality qualifications is the right way forward for Singapore's accounting profession.
6 The ACA is regarded worldwide as a leading financial business qualification, and provides accounting as well as non-accounting graduates a pathway to the accounting profession. The ACA also allows a mid-year career switch for those considering accountancy as a career. Most importantly, the offering of this qualification will help increase the talent pool of highly qualified accountants in Singapore.
Building on the CPA Singapore Brand
7 ICPAS has also been promoting the value of the Certified Public Accountant Singapore (or CPA Singapore) brand to both local and international businesses. This is good for the profession, and beneficial for Singapore as an international financial and business hub. The more businesses understand how CPAs can help them succeed, the more highly employers will regard the CPA qualification. In turn, this will make becoming a Certified Public Accountant a highly attractive career choice.
Developing the Singapore Accountancy Services Sector
8 As we are witnessing a chain of bailout packages in the US and Europe, and collapsing stock markets, nothing else better underscores the need for competent and honest accountants than what we are experiencing now.
9 Regardless of the times, the Government recognises the importance of the accountancy services sector in supporting and forming the backbone of our financial services industry. The accountancy sector's exportable services are also growing and have high potential for development overseas. For instance, local accountants are already much sought after by other countries such as China.
10 It is crucial that we are able to develop and attract the best talent, so that we can offer the best value-added services. To achieve this, the Government is embarking on a comprehensive review of the accountancy services sector, with a view to positioning Singapore as the leading international centre in Asia for the provision of professional accountancy services as well as the development of top-notch accountancy professionals.
Terms of reference of the Committee and composition
11 I am pleased to announce that a high-level Committee, known as the Committee to Develop the Singapore Accountancy Sector, would be formed to undertake the review of the accountancy services sector. The Committee will draw its members from key stakeholder groups which have a strong connection with the Singapore accountancy sector. This would include ICPAS, the business community, practitioners, the academic institutions, and the regulatory authorities. Firstly, the Committee would look into entrenching Singapore as the leading professional accountancy services hub in the region, namely how to develop and grow the exportable accountancy services of the Singapore accountancy sector, and how there can be more effective promotion of Singapore as a key provider of accountancy services in Asia.
12 Secondly, the Committee will review ways to enhance the accountancy profession's ability to attract, develop and retain talent and to position Singapore as the leading hub for professional talents in the accountancy field.
13 Lastly, the Committee will study how to improve accountancy education, so as to equip our accountants with the necessary professional skills and competencies for a dynamic international business environment, and to develop Singapore as a regional education hub for accountancy.
14 The Committee would be chaired by Mr Bobby Chin, the Chairman of the Tote Board (Singapore Totalisator Board), who brings with him invaluable experience and knowledge of the accountancy sector as a former Managing Partner of a Big-Four audit firm. The Committee will establish working groups comprising members with significant knowledge and experience in the different areas of the review.
15 The broad review of the accountancy services sector is expected to take more than a year, and if I may use an analogy, it will be a long and challenging race to reach the finish line. However, with the support of the many accountants here, I am confident that the Committee, working together with ACRA and ICPAS, will be highly successful in promoting and developing the accountancy sector in Singapore.
16 Enjoy the rest of the evening. Thank you.