5 Reasons Why Principles of Accounts

this is the closest Creative Commons Licensed Picture I could find! You just finished your final year examinations and are considering your options. The familiar arts (history, literature or geography) and science  (biology, physics and chemistry)

Principles of Accounts (POA) sounds so foreign and you’ have heard from friends that it is boring. But there’s more to debits and credits in POA.


“’Double-entry bookkeeping’ is one of the great discoveries of European civilisation, but five centuries later most people are still muddled about assets and liabilities. Without such knowledge, technical terms like ‘balance-sheet recession’ and ‘rebuilding balance sheet’ are meaningless.” – Robert Skidelsky, member of British House of Lords and Professor Emeritus of political economy at Warwick University* 

Here’s 5 Reasons Why You Should Pick Up POA:

1. Importance of Accounting
2. Valuable Skill for Daily Life
3. Accounting as a Career
4. Dollars and Sense
5. Taking it further – Upward Mobility

1. Importance of Accounting

Accountants are responsible for providing information that is used to determine the present and future economic stability of the organisation. Bosses depend on them to make business more profitable, investors make decisions using accounting information, government tax on the profits and employees read them to find out if they get their bonuses.

2. Valuable Skill for Daily Life

While subjects like geography are interesting, there may be very little opportunities for you to be able to differentiate one rock from another. signContract

Accounting, however, is different. It is a lifeskill;

Whether in budgeting for the groceries, writing cheques, running a blogshop, understanding contracts or with knowing your bank /CPF statements, the ability to read numbers and make a story out of them makes accounting skills something very valuable.

Principles of Accounts in Personal Finance & Investment

Accounting skills becomes essential if you want to be on your way to a stable and growing level of wealth. You will be able track your net worth, manage household expenses, budget for holidays, set up a home-based business and follow on investments (e.g reading company annual reports).  Accounting can also be used to assess interest rates on house mortgages and car payments.

3. Accounting as a Career

Accounting is the language of business. Today, more CEOs are armed with accounting degrees than any other area of study.  Career opportunities associated with a degree in accounting are practically endless due to how broad the subject is.  Jobs where accounting skills are valued include:

Brokerage Clerks
Budget Analysts
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators
Certified Public Accountants
Credit Analysis
Debt Counselors
Financial Analysts
Financial Managers
Financial Services Sales Agents
Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance / Reinsurance Underwriters
Loan Officers
Personal Financial Advisors
Securities and Commodities Sales Agents
Tax Inspectors, Collectors and Revenue Agents

The “Iron Rice Bowl”

Another reason college students should consider studying accounting is the condition of the economy.  Whether the economy grows or weakens, businesses always need for someone to calculate the profits or the losses. In economic downturns, businesses need to cut down on costs to make their business more profitable.  Businesses also need a strict set of internal controls to make their business more efficient.  The only way to ensure that both of these can happen is through stringent accounting.

4. Dollars and Sense

Job opportunities are not the only reason that university students should consider accounting.  The job can be financially rewarding.  The starting salary of a local accounting graduate averages S$2,600. Good performers can expect an average of S$450 increment in his salary every year.

A partner of a large accounting firm can expect to receive an annual salary of slightly less than S$1 million. This salary, of course, can change based on company, location and industry.

According to Ambition’s 2009 Market Trends and Salaries Report, the Heads of Accounting departments take home salaries in the range of $100,000 – $500,000, excluding performance bonuses, stock option and other allowances.

Accountant Salary Table

5. Taking it further – Upward Mobility

An accounting degree course uses the very same principles you learn in your GCE O/N’ levels POA. It is also not an exaggeration to say you can work as a bookkeeper after your O’/N’ level exams. An accounting degree, however, means you’ll have access to better jobs and more opportunities to advance your career than someone who’s trying to make it in the field without one. With proper training, you can find a worthy entry-level position and step up to greater positions in the future. A skilled accountant is valued in large organisations. Many influential individuals in large organisations are qualified accountants and contribute positively to their communities.

We love to hear from you!

Share your experience and thoughts with us!  Your sharing will allow readers to benefit.  Questions on accounting education? Contact me here. I do my best to help.


*quoted from “The Price of Clarity,” published 24 May 2010 by The Straits Times, Singapore.


Read More:

7 Reasons For Becoming An Accountant And Not A Fashion Designer – by Herald de Paris et Cie

Image Credits

5 reasons why accountancy—1953

Accountants’ Salary Guide 2010 by ICPAS & Partners Robert Half

ICPAS has partnered with Robert Half International to launch the 2009/2010 Global Financial Salary Guide.

[Download Here]

According to the Global Financial Salary Guide 2009/2010 and inaugural Asia Pacific Banking & Financial Services Salary Guide 2009/2010, salary levels of finance and accounting professionals are holding steady in 2009 and 2010 while demand for banking and finance talent remain strong in Asia Pacific despite ongoing economic challenges, Launched by Robert Half International (“Robert Half”), these salary guides offer interesting insights into the hiring environment and average salaries for finance professionals globally and in Singapore.

The Global Financial Salary Guide 2009/2010 provides data on starting salaries for finance and accounting professionals. Currently in its third year of publication, this guide is launched by Robert Half in partnership with the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (“ICPAS”) for the second year running. According to the guide, average salaries for finance and accounting professionals in 2009/2010 remain comparable to that in 2008/2009, in spite of harsher economic conditions. This underscores the heightened importance of finance and accounting roles today, triggered by a renewed emphasis on financial management and cost control in light of the collapse of major financial systems, which led to the global economic meltdown over the past year.

In Singapore, certain accounting positions are seeing slight increases in salary levels, including the roles of Chief Accountant, Internal Auditor and Assistant Accountant with three to five years of industry experience. Increasingly stringent financial regulatory and compliance standards have given rise to the need for more rigorous audit and accounting practices. The trend towards standardised accounting and reporting systems has also led to a higher demand for audit and accounting professionals.

Said Dr Ernest Kan, President of Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), “We are happy to partner Robert Half again on the global salary guide, which serves as a fundamental guide for the recruitment of accountants in the current economy. With calls for greater accountability and transparency in financial reporting from authorities and stakeholders alike, companies are requiring more competent candidates to effectively manage their finances and business risks as well as optimise costs and processes. The guide serves to underscore the fact that demand for audit and accounting expertise, typically from qualified accountants like CPAs Singapore, is now greater than ever.”

Agreed Mr Tim Hird, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore, “While it is interesting to note that salary levels of finance professionals are bucking the economic trend, this is in fact a simple function of market demand and supply. As organisations continue to grapple with the challenges of the downturn, the increasing need for highly skilled finance and accounting professionals have lent stability to salary levels for these roles. However, while demand for these talent remains strong, many employees are hesitant to leave their jobs in this current market, preferring to take a risk-averse approach to their job searches. This has created a distinct supply gap, even in these difficult times.”

These views resonate with the data from the inaugural Asia Pacific Banking & Financial Services Salary Guide 2009/2010, which provides insights into the recruitment competitive landscape and job prospects for banking and financial services professionals in the region.

In Asia Pacific, employers continue to be cautious about recruitment decisions. With decreased access to credit, businesses are focusing more on cost reduction and short term hiring measures. Project-based and temporary roles are gaining popularity as companies seek to ensure completion of work on lower budgets and without significant additions to permanent headcount. Contract staffing is particularly preferred for the flexibility it provides. The impact of hire and departure on staff morale is also lower compared to permanent job losses when the time comes for temporary staff to leave the company.

In Singapore, the key hiring trend is that of steady optimism. Financial services institutions are still hiring, albeit at slower rates than prior to the global economic downturn. Companies remain cautiously optimistic of their prospects, with a desire to gain a competitive advantage during these tougher times. In particular, small-medium enterprises are focused on growing by expanding their front office teams, accessing a pool of top finance talent previously inaccessible but now made available to them due to redundancies and prolonged hiring freezes at larger banks.

Back office functions are also in demand as larger multinational companies move their operations to Singapore from higher cost regions. With more bank mergers, opportunities for project-based integration work across finance, operations, risk and technology functions are on the rise.

Similar trends are present elsewhere in the region. In Australia, companies are seeing a talent shortage in finance and accounting due to lower hiring confidence levels and employees’ reluctance to change jobs. Hiring and job hunting in Hong Kong have also become more selective, even as firms become more upbeat about growth amid the downturn. The situation in Japan is slightly different: while layoffs in Japanese firms have remained low due to Japan’s corporate culture, there is greater emphasis on bottom-lines and employees are now more accountable for their contributions to corporate growth.

Companies typically go through four key employment stages when coping with a recession, observed Mr Hird. Firstly, non-critical contracting employees are released. Secondly, headcount for permanent and fulltime roles is frozen, followed by a reduction in existing headcount. Finally, contract workers are rehired when the economy recovers and business stabilises. This reflects the tremendous potential of temporary and contract positions as viable options for candidates in a tighter job market. For businesses, contract staffing brings about potential cost savings, new skills and abilities, greater flexibility in the workforce, and acts as a manpower supplement during peak periods.

Added Mr Hird, “As the both Salary Guides reveal, finance professionals with specialised skill-sets remain well sought-after by businesses, with particular hiring interests in the areas of internal audit, operational risk, credit risk, compliance and financial governance, and mainstream financial and management accounting.”

“We are heartened that employers recognise the necessity to retain their best talents, who will be instrumental in taking businesses to the next phase when the market turns. This also reflects that highly qualified talents with relevant skills will always be in demand, regardless of the economic and job market conditions. At the same time, it would serve finance and accounting job candidates well to fully utilise available market knowledge and resources, such as Robert Half’s salary guides, to remain updated about their options and make well-informed choices to thrive in the market”, Mr Hird concluded.

The third Robert Half Global Financial Salary Guide 2009/2010 provides comprehensive research data on average starting salaries for 16 key accounting and finance positions across 21 countries, spanning Singapore, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), United Kingdom and the United States. This annual guide aims to help both companies and employees make better employment and hiring strategies through a comparative salary guide across these countries in the country’s corresponding currency value. The information provided is based on extensive research from global job placements by Robert Half, ongoing surveys of senior executives, and the accumulated expertise of Robert Half’s staffing professionals worldwide.

Accountants In Love



I’m feeling lonely, I know you are too
‘Cause every time that we’re apart my love it accrues
And it’s so taxin’ when you’re not around
I can’t defer my feelings, girl, I get so down

I can’t stop thinkin’ ’bout you, girl I’ve tried
But my opinion of you is unqualified
I like the way you make your assets move
You make me want to crunch some numbers with you

Accountants in love (love)
Accountants in love (love)

Now I’m side steppin’ so I’ll get to the point
If my name was Touche you would be my Deloitte
And I think that you really should know
How bad I, want to check your internal controls

Accountants in love (love) X 3

Girl I hate to be cliche
But you’re the one that I’ve been dreaming of
I could sit here and itemize
All the reasons that I fell in love.

Accountants in love (love) X 3

Event: CPA S’pore Powwow: The Shifting Power Balance: Is Gender the Issue?

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore presents:

CPA S’pore Powwow: The Shifting Power Balance: Is Gender the Issue?


CPA Singapore Powwow









Despite global support for the fundamental rights of women and men to participate equally in decision-making, women are still poorly represented at the higher levels of decision-making in both public and private sectors. The 21st century corporate world needs to recognise that the optimisation of women’s talents will boost business performance. 

The topic will focus on the economic importance of women – how they are becoming central to labour market solutions to the challenges of an ageing workforce, falling birth rates and skill shortages. And what can be done for women to fulfill their potential. 

The forum brings together a panel of distinguished leaders to exchange views on the topic and share their ideas with the business community. 

Guest-of-honour and Panelist: 

Mrs Lim Hwee Hua 
Minister, Prime Minister’s Office 
Second Minister for Finance and Transport


Mr Gerard Ee 
Vice-President, ICPAS 
Chairman of National Kidney Foundation

Mr Declan O’Sullivan 
Kerry Consulting Pte Ltd

Ms Saw Phaik Hwa 
President & Chief Executive Officer 
SMRT Corporation Ltd


Ms Melissa Hyak 
Channel NewsAsia

Registration is now open. Please visit the ICPAS website for further details!

Recognised Accounting Degrees for Practicing as a CPA in Singapore


photo: CarbonNYC

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) lists the recognised professional qualifications for registration as a public accountant.

To be practicing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Singapore, an applicant must at the time of his application for registration

(a) have passed the final examination in accountancy of one of the following:

(i) the Singapore Polytechnic for the professional diploma and for the degree course in accountancy for the years 1961 to 1969;
(ii) the University of Singapore for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy;
(iii) the Nanyang University of Singapore for the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (Accountancy) or Bachelor of Accountancy;
(iv) the National University of Singapore for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy;
(v) the Nanyang Technological Institute for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy;
(vi) the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (formerly known as the Singapore Society of Accountants) Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the United Kingdom Joint Scheme;
(vii) the Nanyang Technological University for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy or Master of Business Administration (Accountancy);
(viii) the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore Professional Examination; or
(ix) the Singapore Management University for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy or Master of Professional Accounting; or

(b) have passed the final examination in accountancy of one of the following or its recognised equivalent:
(i) the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS);
(ii) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW);
(iii) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI);
(iv) the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) (formerly known as the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants);
(v) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA);
(vi) CPA Australia (formerly known as the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants);
(vii) New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) (formerly known as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand);
(viii) the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA);
(ix) the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA); or
(x) the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants of the United Kingdom (CIMA), except that CIMA members shall have passed the following subjects:

(A) Financial Reporting Environment;

(B) Accounting and Audit Practice;

(C) Advanced Taxation; and

(D) Company Law and Corporate Governance,

and shall have also passed such other examination and have fulfilled such other requirements as may be determined by the Oversight Committee.

What are independent auditors?


accountant-copyrIndpendent CPA auditors are like referees in the financial reporting arena. The CPA comes in, does an audit of the business’s accounting system and methods and gives a report that is attached to the company’s financial statements. Publicly owned businesses are required to have their annual financial reports audited by independent CPA firms and any privately owned businesses have audits done as well because they know that an audit report will add credibility to their financial reports.


An auditor judges whether the business’s accounting methods are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Generally everything is in place and the financial report is a reliable document. But at times an auditor will wave a yellow or red flag. Some indicators of potential trouble include when the business’s capability to continue normal operations is in doubt because of what are known as financial exigencies, which could mean a low cash balance, unpaid overdue liabilities, or major lawsuits that the business doesn’t have the cash to cover.


An auditor must exercise professional skepticism, meaning the auditor should challenge the accounting methods and reporting practices of the client in order to make sure that its financial statement conform with accounting standards and are not misleading – in short, that the financial statement are fairly presented. Indeed, the words “fairly presented” are the exact words used in the auditor’s report.


A good auditor need technical know-how, but also needs to know how to be tough on the accounting methods of the client. His job is to be the agent of the shareholders and other users of the business’s financial report. It’s incumbent on an auditor to strictly uphold GAAP, and not let any irregularities slide. 


There are a number of well-known companies that engaged in accounting fraud recently  and that fraud was not discovered by the CPA auditors. Enron is one of these companies. In this case, the auditing firm, Arthur Anderson was found guilty of obstruction of justice because it destroyed audit evidence.

Careers in Accounting


accountant-copyrightedThere are many different careers in the field of accounting ranging from entry-level bookkeeping to the Chief Financial Officer of a company. To achieve positions with more responsibility and higher salaries, it’s necessary to have a degree in accounting as well as achieve various professional designations.


One of the primary milestones in any accountant’s career is to become a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. To become a CPA you have to go to college with a major in accounting. You also have to pass a national CPA exam. There’s also some employment experience required in a CPA firm. This is generally one to two years, although this varies from state to state. Once you satisfy all those requirements, you get a certificate that designates you as a CPA and you’re allowed to offer your services to the public.


Many CPAs consider this just one stepping stone to their careers. The chief accountant in many offices is called the controller. The controller is in charge of managing the entire accounting system in a business stays on top of accounting and tax laws to keep the company legal and is responsible for preparing the financial statements.


The controller is also in charge of financial planning and budgeting.  Some companies have only one accounting professional who’s essentially the chief cook and bottle washer and does everything. As a business grows in size and complexity, then additional layers of personnel are required to handle the volume of work that comes from growth. Other areas in the company are also impacted by growth, and it’s part of the controller’s job to determine just how many more salaries the company can pay for additional people without negatively impacting growth and profits. 

The controller also is responsible for preparing tax returns for the business; a much more involved and complex task than completing personal income tax forms! In larger organizations, the controller can report to a vice president of finance who reports to the chief financial officer, who is responsible for the broad objectives for growth and profit and implementing the appropriate strategies to achieve the objectives.

Entry level accountants can expect a very team oriented environment. Often they will start as a junior member of a team responsible for auditing an important account or preparing financial statements. It is imperative that junior members learn to pull their weight, and function as a capable, effective, and useful member of the unit. Anyone interested in this field can prepare for a bright career.

Difference between Accountants and Auditors

pencil-and-paper Accounting is a process of using a set of concepts and techniques to measure and report financial information about a business.  The business is generally considered to be a separate and distinct legal entity.  The information is potentially reported to a variety of different types of interested parties.  These include business managers, owners, investors, creditors, government regulators, financial analysts and even employees.

Auditing is a process involving the evaluating, scrutinizing  and the examination of transactions and systems that underlie an organization’s financial reports, with the ultimate goal of providing an independent report on the appropriateness of financial statements.

In other words, accountants are in charged of the day-to-day duties of maintaing the accounts, implementing the board financial strategy, if any. At the end of the period, accountant would produce Financial Statement, a summary report of the financial performance throughout the period. Whereas, auditor conduct a check on the accuracy of the financial statements, to ensure that there is no material misstatement of the financial statement prepared.

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Downturn Demand Makes Big 4 Hire More

Big 4 still hiring

picture by Matthew Dutile


Accountants gear up to manage risk and restructuring, keep an eye on fraud

Business Times – 29 Jan 2009

(SINGAPORE) Bad times in the corporate world translate to even busier times for accountants. No wonder the big boys are hiring.

As the downturn throws up more distressed companies, there is now greater demand for restructuring and risk management advisory. Incidents of possible fraud will call for more forensic investigations.

The Big Four audit firms say they are still recruiting at both the entry-level and for senior positions.

Ernst & Young says it expects to hire over 250 new staffers in Singapore this year. Over the past six months, it has recruited over 20 partners in the Far East Area, of which some are in Singapore.

‘Certain parts of our business – for example, restructuring and advisory in helping our clients manage the financial volatility – are more active and we will deploy resources to meet such increased activity,’ said Steven Phan, country managing partner at Ernst & Young Solutions LLP.

The recent pay cuts thrust upon KPMG’s middle to top management had stoked speculation that its peers could follow suit. The other three audit firms said, however, that they had not cut salaries.

Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (Singapore) said they would manage their staff costs through a flexible wage system.

PwC’s human capital partner Deborah Ong told BT that the firm has no plans to slow down recruitment or retrench staff, and is on the lookout for senior talent.

As demand for its transactions advisory eases, PwC is deploying staff to areas of growing demand such as distress M&A deals, business recovery work, risk and governance compliance, she added. PwC is the appointed receiver for the Lehman Minibonds series that have defaulted.

Audit firms say they are also hoping to tap the new pool of senior talent from the once-sizzling financial industry that is now downsizing. During the boom years, financial institutions are often a more attractive choice for job seekers.

Chaly Mah, CEO of Deloitte Asia Pacific, told BT his firm has not been able to hire enough, and is now taking the opportunity to consolidate resources and make strategic hires. The audit firm is scaling back its recruitment of new graduates from 200 to 160 this year but is looking to step up its recruitment of more experienced hires.

‘The past few years have been a difficult market for employers, especially the accounting profession. This is why many companies are likely to take this opportunity to take stock,’ Mr Mah said.

Meanwhile, as fraud cases creep into view, there are growing murmurs that they should be detected by external auditors. Audit firms could find themselves busier than ever if they are to fulfil these expectations.

A recent scandal involving Indian IT giant Satyam Computers faking accounts has led the public to question why its auditor PwC did not discover the false inflation of profits for years.

But the Big Four stressed that the key objective of external auditing is not to sniff out fraud, but to present ‘a true and fair view’ of the financial statements.

While external auditors need to assess internal controls to make sure financial statements prepared by management are fairly presented, it is not the same thing as sniffing out and nailing fraud from the outset, said Danny Teoh, managing partner at KPMG LLP.

‘Uncovering fraud is the purview of forensic specialists,’ Mr Teoh said. ‘The objectives are very specific and different from that of an auditor reporting on financial statements.’

To integrate the two roles would be an overkill, he added. ‘The best approach therefore is to prevent fraud in the first place, by implementing a robust risk management programme within an organisation.’

KPMG is the special auditor for Advance Modules, and its stunning report last November showed the company faking sales records to meet an internal profit target for fiscal 2005 and undertaking a series of complex actions to cover up. This saga implicated another listed firm, NEL Group.

Mr Mah, who is also president of CPA Australia (Singapore division), noted that since the Enron days and the collapse of Arthur Andersen, the audit profession has stepped up to pay attention to potential fraud in the course of its work.

‘In an economic downturn, there is probably going to be an increased possibility of fraud,’ he said. ‘We have to do the right thing to satisfy ourselves that this is not happening by probing further, not believing in some of the things that we are told but to independently verify the matter.’