An Overview of Macro-Level Opportunities in Accountancy in Singapore

Financial District Singaproe

 

If you are embarking on a course on accounting, whether it’s Principles of Accounts (POA) or at tertiary level, here’s some good news for you. Singapore aspires to be a leading global accountancy hub for Asia-Pacific which is the fastest-growing region in accountancy services, forecasted to reach US$ 38.3 billion by 2013. Singapore contributed 2.8% to the Asia-Pacific market and its US$ 862.4 million formed 0.47% of its GDP, signalling great potential to grow. 1

In order to be on par with developed countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, Singapore aims to double the sector’s existing GDP contribution (from 0.4% to about 1%) and its contribution from services export (from 22% to 50%) over the next decade. 1

This is exciting times for those seeking employment opportunities in Singapore.

Moreover, 29 of the biggest 30 international accountancy network firms have established a presence in Singapore. Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (the “Big-4”) are part of the international accountancy networks and service a large portion (74%) of Singapore’s listed entities. The medium-sized public accountancy entities comprise those that audit 10 or more Public Interest Entities.

Together they account for 24% of the market share for audit services provided to listed companies. 1

Chic Princples of Accounts SingaporeA world-recognised professional accountancy qualification is key to transforming Singapore’s accountancy sector. Singapore will be the regional hub where international professional bodies offer other accountancy qualifications, and where global accountancy entities operate for Asia-Pacific. The corporate entities and government agencies also offer “on-the-job” training opportunities for accountants in commerce and government service. In terms of employment, the sector directly generates about 12,000 jobs. 1

The ACCA and Robert Half Women in Accounting and Finance Survey showed that the three main industries their respondents worked at were Accounting and Audit, Manufacturing, and Banking and Finance respectively.2

 

 

According to the 2008 survey conducted by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants Singapore (ICPAS),3 only 1 out of 10 accountants are working for an accountancy firm while the majority are working for corporations. Long working hours was found to be the main reason deterring them from working in the accountancy firms. A recent survey by top recruitment company Robert Half also revealed that at least 98 percent of finance or accounting employees in Singapore work longer than what was stipulated in their contract.4 In a separate survey on female accounting and financial consultants in Singapore, it was found that the average working week is 46.1 hours.2

Number of Graduates with Degrees in Accountancy (2011/2012)

University

Degree

Number of Graduates

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Bachelor of Accountancy

628

(M: 297; F: 331) 5

MBA (Accountancy)

4

(M: 3; F: 1) 6

National University of Singapore (NUS)

BBA (with Accountancy)

139

(M: 53; F: 86) 7

Singapore Management University (SMU) 8

Bachelor of Accountancy

269

Master of Professional Accounting

31

M – Male ; F – Female

Total number of members in Asia Pacific (2011/2012) for ACCA is 43,704 ; Total number of students is 113,623 (no stand-alone figures for Singapore found). 9

The ICPAS currently has about 21,000 members, of which about 15,000 hold the title of “CPA Singapore” .1

Median Monthly Basic and Gross Wages of Accounting-Related Occupations in All Industries, June 201110

Median Basic Wage ($)

Median Gross Wage ($)

Accountant

4,285

(M: 4,266; F: 4,300)

4,347

(M: 4,310; F: 4,350)

Auditor (Accounting)

4,266

(F: 4,095)

4,285

(F: 4,130)

Accounting Associate Professional

2,952

(M: 3,000; F: 2,950)

3,000

(M: 3,000; F: 3,000)

M – Male ; F – Female

References

1. http://www.acra.gov.sg/Publications/CDAS+Final+Report.htm

2. http://www.roberthalf.com.sg/EMEA/Singapore/Channel%20Descriptors/rh-sg/PDFs/RH_ACCA_Women_in_accounting&finance_survey.pdf

3. http://www.icpas.org.sg/doc/ICPAS%20WP_Young%20Accountants%20Career%20Intentions.pdf

4. http://www.roberthalf.com.sg/id/PR-03432/singapore-finance-accounting-employees-work-longer-hours

5. http://www.ntu.edu.sg/AboutNTU/CorporateInfo/FactsFigures/Pages/AY2011-12FirstDegreeGraduateOutputByProgrammeandGender.aspx

6. http://www.ntu.edu.sg/AboutNTU/CorporateInfo/FactsFigures/Pages/AY2011-12HigherDegreeGraduatesByGender.aspx

7. https://share.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/statistics/ug-grad-20112012.pdf

8. http://www.smu.edu.sg/sites/default/files/smu/downloads/statistical_highlights_20120907.pdf

9. http://www.accaglobal.com/content/dam/acca/global/pdf-agm/ar2011-12.pdf

10. www.mom.gov.sg

  • Bangghell

    Hi, want to ask if i want to pursue accountant as my career.Which road is much beneficial to me, JC or Poly?

  • calebho

    Hi Bangghell,

    Happy your are considering accountancy as a career!

    There are many variable factors to consider when you are considering the pathways to becoming an accountant. I presume you mean that after a professional accounting degree, you are looking at the route to becoming a Chartered Accountant in Singapore.

    If we narrow this discussion to choosing JC or Poly a this point, here’s my thoughts:

    JC Route:

    I came through this route so I’m speaking from my experience from 10yrs ago (things probably change but whatever this is worth).

    Pros:

    – A Levels take 2 years to complete instead of 3 through poly.

    So you save a year and get your chosen career going at the start. I think this is the biggest plus amongst the advantages.

    – I did Pure Arts, without A level math, back in JC and it didn’t put me at a disadvantage. At my time, you’d only need a B for A-maths at O levels.

    Don’t be misguided by others that you must be good with numbers to be an accountant. A strong command of English is necessary to excel in this subject.

    – More than 80% of A-level students make the cut to get into local universities. Overseas opportunities (esp Australia) is a popular option for an accounting qualification. The JC route opens many doors for such opportunity

    Cons:

    – The only school that provides A level Principles of Accounting is Millennia Institute, which is a 3-yr program.

    Without a foundation (even at O level POA), you’d have to put in some effort to making sure you get some foundation from online (free) or get some tutoring before enrolling to University.

    Poly Route:

    Pros:

    – If you choose a business/accounting diploma program in polytechnic, the foundational accounting classes will be helpful. Some of my university peers from the polytechnic breezed through the key accounting modules in year one of university. There’s some advantages there.

    – I always tell my students that if I knew what I want as a career as a 16yr old – I’d choose the poly route. At poly, you’d get practical experience from internships and begin your journey as an accounting executive early. Although it’s one year more, the poly route provides better insight to what you can expect in the career EARLY. In that case, if you so decide that accounting is not for you, do something else. 🙂

    Cons:

    – It’s 3 years in poly vs 2.

    – It’s highly competitive. You must remain focussed and keep up your GPA consistently high THROUGHOUT the semesters in poly. In JC, we sat for one exam which made that difference (with that risk & bell curve to overcome). My ex-students tells me that accounting students are very competitive (same as uni students).

    You need to be top 5% (or near) in Poly to be considered a place in Uni. In terms of probability, JC offers a better chance for Uni but not very much difference because you’d need excellent grades at A levels to be considered for Accounting.

    There are other options to achieving CA in Singapore. For more information, take a look at this presentation from ACRA/ICPAS:

    http://www.acra.gov.sg/NR/rdonlyres/1DC91E0E-2609-4BCB-946E-34609E2E80F5/16737/4ProfessionalDevt_DrErnestKan_ICPASv3.pdf

    Hope this helps!
    Caleb