Over the past decade, the accountancy landscape has evolved rapidly with technology bringing advances in capabilities and efficiencies. Our inaugural TechCountx Conference, held on August 30 at Grand Hyatt Hotel, focused on the impact of technology on the accountancy profession and aimed to gear professionals up for the digital era by exposing the profession to innovative digitalisation solutions.
In his welcome address, ISCA CEO Lee Fook Chiew shared initiatives by the Institute to equip the profession with the necessary skills to support accountants amid rapid technological advancement. These initiatives include ISCA’s publication titled “Cybersecurity Risk Considerations in a Financial Statements Audit” to help auditors incorporate cybersecurity risks in their work and ISCA’s Financial Forensic Accounting Qualification which trains professionals in digital forensics and investigative techniques using data analytics. ISCA also supports the adoption of technology by audit practices through the funding of Audit Singapore software under the Local Enterprise Association Development (LEAD) programme.
Guest of Honour Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive of Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), delivered the keynote address, where he emphasised the urgency for businesses to digitalise in order to remain competitive. An example shared was the implementation of the nationwide e-invoicing framework to digitalise business transactions, which results in faster payment cycles. A key government initiative to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) digitalise is the SME Go Digital programme, which provides SMEs with step-by-step advice on the digital solutions to use at each stage of their growth.
With the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), one of the leading issues is the ethical considerations arising from the adoption of AI. Jeremy Tan, Director of CMS Holborn Asia, shared how AI can potentially be used to nudge society towards good behaviour. On the flip side, such capabilities can be misused if in the wrong hands, resulting in far-reaching consequences. There is thus a pressing need to regulate the ethical aspects of safety, accountability and transparency of AI.
The panel of experts discussed how the ABCDs (AI, blockchain, cybersecurity and data analytics) of technology advancements have disrupted traditional work processes, and shared their experiences on the transition process towards automation. Gary Loh, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of SunMoon Food Company, emphasised that mindset, rather than skill set, is the key to digital transformation. Also, implementing a system that works is important as people can be persuaded to adjust their mindset when they discover the benefits that can be reaped.
Moderator Karen Leong, Managing Director, Influence Solutions Pte Ltd, summarised the panel discussion succinctly – Instead of being a passenger, be a player in this revolution. Instead of focusing on skill sets, look into mindsets. Instead of asking “Can we do it?”, ask “How can I do it?”
Tracks 1 and 2
The afternoon session was conducted in two parallel tracks (Tracks 1 and 2) and also encompassed a technology showcase and Tech Talk arena which housed demonstrations of various solutions and tools for finance professionals.
Technology has become a vital component of the accounting industry and Track 1 focused on automation and blockchain technology for accountants in business.
Zann Kwan, Co-Founder and CEO of Bitcoin Exchange Pte Ltd, explained how blockchain will change accountancy sectors through distributed ledgers which allow transparency in real-time transactions with a decentralised network with proof-of-work (PoW) consensus. The Initial Coin Offering (ICOs) fundraising mechanism, which uses cryptocurrency as a medium for tokenisation, has allowed crowdfunding to be made possible with community involvement and venture capitalists evaluating investment worthiness. The increasing use of cryptocurrency has created a new economic paradigm and would expedite the progression to a cashless society.
The emergence of big data technologies provides auditors with the capabilities to collect and analyse data in greater depth and breadth. Track 2 focused on the shift in the audit value proposition arising from such technologies. Adrian Tan, Partner and Industry Lead, Technology, Media & Telecommunications of RSM Singapore, shared real case studies on how auditors leverage data analytics to spot anomalies, such as analysing an interactive heat map showing abnormal trends for a more risk-focused and meaningful audit.
Cybersecurity remains the cornerstone of digitalisation and Hoo Chuan-Wei, Chief Cybersecurity Technology Officer of ST Engineering Electronics, explored how fraud is interlinked with poor cybersecurity. He emphasised that security is as strong as the weakest link and stressed the importance for companies to step up their data security measures as employees become increasingly IT savvy and may be capable of circumventing system controls to commit fraud.
This Conference provided our professionals with valuable insights over an extensive range of hot-button technological topics, which will come in handy on their digitalisation journey. It also created many networking opportunities and forged meaningful partnerships for both members in practice and in business.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS SAY…
“In favour of the free-and-easy concept in the afternoon, where participants can decide which tracks they want to attend based on their interests and job relevance.”
“Well organised, and the topics of discussion are concise.”