Sin­ga­pore’s top ac­count­ing firms are on a hir­ing spree

2017 saw the need for flex­i­bil­ity and in­no­va­tion in the ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion.

Singapore Business Review - - ACCOUNTING SURVEY -

De­spite shed­ding twenty em­ploy­ees, KPMG re­mains the big­gest ac­count­ing firm in Sin­ga­pore with a 3,000-strong team. PWC fol­lows at a close sec­ond with 2,800 to­tal staff, up from last year’s 2,742. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the 3rd and 4th firms are EY and Deloitte with 2,760 and 2,300 em­ploy­ees, re­spec­tively. The twelve largest firms of last year re­tained their spots, but the thir­teenth largest firm this year came as a sur­prise. RT LLP al­most dou­bled its staff num­ber from 62 in 2016 to 120 to­day. Deloitte also saw to fit that its re­gional staffing would be ad­e­quate to cover the en­tire re­gion. Whilst the num­bers re­mained the same in Sin­ga­pore, the num­ber of Deloitte em­ploy­ees in ASEAN dou­bled to­gether with the firm’s re­gional rev­enue. “With dif­fer­ent coun­tries at dif­fer­ent stages of growth, and with our clients’ needs be­ing dif­fer­ent for each coun­try, our tal­ent has spread out and grown across the re­gion,” said Philip Yuen, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Deloitte South­east Asia and Sin­ga­pore.

Max Loh, Asean and Sin­ga­pore manag­ing part­ner, EY, said that ma­jor global de­vel­op­ments such as China’s Belt & Road ini­tia­tive will even­tu­ally spur growth, hence ac­count­ing firms must se­ri­ously con­sider phys­i­cal pres­ence as well as strate­gic staffing in the re­gion.

Lack of skills

De­spite the grow­ing de­mand for ac­coun­tants in the re­gion, a sur­vey by EY and CPA Aus­tralia re­vealed that 150 ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion­als in Sin­ga­pore ex­pressed weak con­fi­dence in their present skill set. Ac­cord­ing to them, strate­gic think­ing is the top skill re­quired these days, and their train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence are no longer ad­e­quate to meet fu­ture job de­mand such as sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis and data min­ing. Ac­cord­ing to

Thye, manag­ing part­ner, KPMG Sin­ga­pore, the breadth and depth of ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by dig­i­tal tal­ents will en­able to pro­vide their clients with an in­ter­na­tional and re­gional per­spec­tive in ad­dress­ing present chal­lenges. For KPMG, this means hir­ing more in­ter­na­tional tal­ent whilst keep­ing its core work­force Sin­ga­porean.

Loh said that in 2017, EY grew to about 250,000 peo­ple across 151 coun­tries and new hires reached up to 65,000, with 25% be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced hires and more than 10% be­ing alumni or what the firm calls boomerangs--peo­ple who worked for the firm, left, and came back. Mean­while, Deloitte an­nounced that it has in­creased its global work­force by 8% from 2016, greatly ben­e­fit­ting its ma­jor of­fice in Sin­ga­pore as well as its mar­kets in the ASEAN re­gion.

Rise of the data sci­en­tists

In terms of the ex­pec­ta­tions for ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion­als, hir­ing man­agers have be­gun pri­ori­tis­ing cu­ri­ous and creative in­di­vid­u­als who are con­fi­dent not only in us­ing es­tab­lished tech­nolo­gies, but in eas­ily work­ing with emerg­ing ones. Loh said that busi­ness ac­u­men, pro­fes­sional skep­ti­cism, an an­a­lyt­i­cal mind­set and the abil­ity to in­ter­ro­gate large data sets will also be crit­i­cal to an ac­coun­tant’s present and fu­ture suc­cess. “Find­ing in­di­vid­u­als who fit this pro­file is no easy task. Hence, the ac­count­ing sec­tor will need to di­ver­sify its re­cruit­ment to at­tract dif­fer­ent

KPMG re­mains the big­gest ac­count­ing firm in Sin­ga­pore with a 3,000-strong team. PWC fol­lows at a close sec­ond with 2,800 to­tal staff, up from last year’s 2,742.

skillsets, such as in­di­vid­u­als from sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics dis­ci­plines,” Loh added.

Lee Fook Chiew, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, In­sti­tute of Sin­ga­pore Chartered Ac­coun­tants (ISCA). noted that with more than 32,000 mem­bers in di­verse roles across dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries, the sec­tor in 2017 wel­comed 1,000 ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion­als from di­verse in­dus­tries as its new mem­bers.

Sin­ga­pore’s re­cently launched Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices In­dus­try Trans­for­ma­tion Map (ITM) by the gov­ern­ment will help fa­cil­i­tate per­va­sive in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy adop­tion across the sec­tor and equip the fi­nan­cial sec­tor work­force with new skills and com­pe­ten­cies. The ITM is also ex­pected to cre­ate 4,000 new jobs in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices and fin­tech sec­tors an­nu­ally.

“We en­able our mem­bers to broaden their skills sets and deepen their ex­per­tise via spe­cial­i­sa­tion path­ways, such as the Fi­nan­cial Foren­sic Ac­count­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion, and cour­ses in cy­ber se­cu­rity and data an­a­lyt­ics to help them stay rel­e­vant,” Lee said.

Evo­lu­tion of work

EY’S be­lief in this strat­egy en­abled it to de­liver new ser­vices and so­lu­tions like peo­ple ad­vi­sory ser­vices, op­er­a­tional trans­ac­tion ser­vices, law, dig­i­tal busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion, an­a­lyt­ics, cy­ber­se­cu­rity and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. Fur­ther­more, firms out­side of the Big Four are also ob­serv­ing new trends in terms of staffing. Sim Guan Seng, manag­ing part­ner, Baker Tilly TFW LLP, said that they have been see­ing an in­crease in in­ter­est among fresh grad­u­ates to ex­plore a ca­reer with Global 10 firms out­side of the Big Four. “We have been suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing such grad­u­ates in the last 2 years to join us. I see this trend to con­tinue. The chal­lenge is for the mid-sized firms to live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of these new re­cruits,”

Sim said. 2017 is also sig­nif­i­cant for ac­count­ing firms in Sin­ga­pore, as it marks the first year of im­ple­men­ta­tion and reg­u­la­tion of the En­hanced Au­di­tor Re­port­ing stan­dards (EARS). Au­di­tor’s re­ports now con­tain more in­sight­ful in­for­ma­tion in the form of key au­dit mat­ters (KAMS) which en­hances trans­parency amongst auditors as it en­ables in­vestors to fo­cus on crit­i­cal ar­eas in­clud­ing key ac­count­ing and au­dit is­sues in the fi­nan­cial state­ments. One year into the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the EAR stan­dards, ISCA’S sur­vey re­vealed that nearly two thirds of au­dit com­mit­tees (63%) and in­vestors (60%) said that EARS gave them mod­er­ately to sig­nif­i­cantly deeper in­sights into how their auditors con­ducted the au­dits. The city’s new rev­enue recog­ni­tion model is also ex­pected to change the ex­ist­ing rev­enue recog­ni­tion poli­cies as well as pose chal­lenges to busi­nesses with long term con­tracts or con­tracts with mul­ti­ple per­for­mance obli­ga­tions.

The ITM is also ex­pected to cre­ate 4,000 new jobs in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices and fin­tech sec­tors an­nu­ally.

Ong Pang Thye, Manag­ing Part­ner, KPMG Sin­ga­pore

KPMG plans to hire more in­ter­na­tional tal­ent whilst keep­ing its core work­force Sin­ga­porean.

Lee Fook Chiew, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, ISCA

Philip Yuen, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Deloitte South­east Asia and Sin­ga­pore

Max Loh, Manag­ing Part­ner, EY Asean

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.