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2021: YEAR IN REVIEW

2021: YEAR IN REVIEW

ADVANCING WITH CONFIDENCE AND COMMITMENT

In 2021, as ISCA journeys into our next chapter of growth, we are directed by the Institute’s refreshed vision and mission. Our vision is to be a world-class accountancy body of trusted professionals, contributing towards an innovative and sustainable economy. Our mission, which supports the vision, is expressed in four statements or RISE for short.

This year continued to be a time of change and challenge as economies and businesses faced a volatile and complex business environment. From the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and digital transformation to Singapore’s ongoing structural reforms and the emergence of megatrends like sustainability and climate change, the accountancy profession, like other professions, had to adapt to new ways of doing things. To this end, the Institute rolled out a myriad of initiatives to assist members in managing the immediate issues, as well as to equip them with enhanced competencies to position them for the future. Here are some of the initiatives.

SUPPORTING THE INDUSTRY

It is crucial for the accountancy profession to adapt quickly to the evolving business landscape so that members can help steer businesses towards a post-pandemic recovery.

ISCA Support Fund

To give the profession that essential push, the Institute unveiled the $8-million ISCA Support Fund in February to support businesses, to sustain livelihoods of accountancy professionals and to safeguard professional credentials. To help strengthen and transform businesses, $3 million goes towards accelerating the digital transformation and upskilling efforts of small and medium-sized practices (SMPs), as well as provide working capital to SMPs affected by the pandemic. To date, close to 140 SMPs have benefitted from the scheme, which supports them in tapping new opportunities and building digital capabilities.

The remaining $5 million goes towards supporting ISCA members, of which $2 million will aid members who are facing financial difficulties. Each member facing financial hardship will get their membership fees waived and will receive complimentary training, enabling them to acquire new skills to enhance employability. The other $3 million goes towards upskilling and reskilling members for the post-COVID-19 environment. Since the launch, more than 500 members have received financial help through membership fee waivers and complimentary CPD hours.


The ISCA Support Fund was launched to support businesses, sustain livelihoods of accountancy professionals and safeguard professional credentials

ISCA COVID-19 Resource Centre

The Institute continued to populate the online ISCA COVID-19 Resource Centre with curated materials and updates of schemes from the government as well as ISCA, bringing timely support to individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic. The 2021 ISCA COVID-19 Navigator, for example, has incorporated the latest announcements from Budget 2021. ISCA and the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) have also jointly issued sector-specific advisories to clarify the compliance requirements for accountancy practices, following government announcements of new measures to mitigate the spread of infection. From the ISCA Pre-Budget 2022 survey to members conducted in September, more than half of the respondents indicated that they found the COVID-19 Resource Centre initiatives to be useful. In particular, 71% of them considered e-learning (live webinars and e-learning courses offered by ISCA) to be most useful to them.

Career Support

The members-only job-matching service allows job-seeking members to profile themselves to potential employers by posting their career history, on an anonymous basis, on the job-matching site. Employers seeking to hire were able to search for suitable candidates, and request ISCA to link them up. This year, we have fulfilled more than 420 employer requests to connect with members who were looking for career opportunities.


The Institute provided members with various career support initiatives

Together with Workforce Singapore, ISCA brought back the Virtual Career Fair (VCF) for accounting and finance professionals from July 19 to August 9. The VCF aimed to match job-seekers and employers with the right accounting and finance talents for organisations, especially for roles in advisory and tax services, assurance and risk management, financial and management accounting and technology.

To help members seeking other opportunities, in April, ISCA invited industry experts to conduct a career workshop to share tips in resume writing as well as ways to develop a professional online presence through self-profiling. The session, which was attended by over 300 members, also enlightened job-seekers on the key essentials of virtual interviews especially during the pandemic. To help employers who may have difficulties attracting the right talent, ISCA organised a webinar in June to distil actionable insights and best practices that employers can put in place as part of their recruitment process. More than 300 members attended the webinar, which included a short sharing of the various government programmes which companies can tap on for their recruitment needs.

This year’s ISCA Career Pathways Talk was livestreamed virtually to a 400-strong audience. Catering to the needs of our younger members, the event, supported by the Young Professionals Advisory Committee, showcased a diverse panel of speakers who epitomised the spectrum of roles that Chartered Accountants can develop and grow into. The panellists candidly shared insights, experiences and personal anecdotes, and offered an insider’s take of the tech industry and skill sets which accountants should strive to attain while navigating their careers. They also urged participants to be bold, to continue learning and adapting, and to adopt a growth mindset in order not to limit themselves from venturing into the tech space.

The annual ISCA Career Pathways Talk was livestreamed to a 400-strong audience

Throughout the year, ISCA continued to support members’ career aspirations through a myriad of initiatives. The ISCA Mentoring Programme, now in its third run, provides aspiring Chief Financial Officers with access to experienced C-suite executives to learn, network and grow.

DEVELOPING CAPABILITIES

Singapore Accountancy And Audit Convention (SAAC) Series 2021

ISCA’s flagship SAAC Series, which is designed to meet the unique needs of our different member segments, features thought leadership, business insights, technical knowledge and other trending topics of significance. The Budget Update Seminar in March, themed “In It To Ace It”, was the first in the SAAC Series. The presenters delved into the tax implications of the Budget proposals and shared their views about the economic outlook for Singapore in light of the trying business environment.  

The Budget Update Seminar provided insights into the implications of Budget 2021 and the economic outlook for Singapore

Next up in the SAAC Series was the PAIB Conference in August. Bearing the theme “Sustainability And Trust: Taking Centrestage In A New Era Of Business”, the event focused on the major trends which would have a profound and longer term impact on accountancy – sustainability, financial forensics, and intelligent automation.

Giving the keynote address at the PAIB Conference was Guest-of-Honour Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment

In her keynote address, Guest-of-Honour Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, spoke on the importance of sustainability for the overall economy. She said that sustainability can become a competitive advantage for Singapore’s economy, especially in relation to the Singapore Green Plan 2030. Also addressed at the event were the topics fundamental to the work of accountancy and business professionals, such as financial reporting, auditing and assurance, and quality management. A panel session zoomed in on the benefits and challenges faced by issuers in applying the new Listing Rule 705(3A); another segment focused on the sharing of practical application issues in valuation.

At the conference, the speakers dispelled the misconception that sustainability was a distant aspiration, and proceeded to explore how finance professionals could empower businesses to capitalise on sustainability opportunities. As shared by Ms Fu, accountants play a pivotal role in assessing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) costs or benefits in all major business decisions. They must increasingly consider risks brought on by climate change, including new regulatory requirements as a result of national climate policies on their companies. Accountants are well placed to help their companies understand and mitigate these risks.

Panellists at the PAIB Conference forwarded the view that accountants can galvanise businesses to capitalise on sustainability opportunities

The Practitioners Conference in October, themed “At The Lead Of Change”, reinforced the role of auditors as leaders in the face of change. Delivering the keynote address was Permanent Secretary for Finance Tan Ching Yee, who outlined how our auditors are well positioned to be at the forefront in the midst of adversity and challenges. In the face of COVID-19 and climate change, she highlighted how auditors can take the lead in boosting a country’s “trust premium” by ensuring high audit quality, and in providing investors with reliable information by ensuring credibility of sustainability disclosures. She urged participants to work together to uplift audit quality both at the system and individual practitioner levels, embrace the key trends of technology and sustainability, and keep pace with the developments to shape a future high-growth practice area, step up to the challenge, and take the lead in the face of change. Auditors need to be adaptable and move quicker than the changes in the business environment as organisations look to them for counsel in their change agenda.

At the Practitioners Conference, Guest-of-Honour Tan Ching Yee, Permanent Secretary for Finance, called on the accountancy profession and industry to rise up to the challenge to lead change in the evolving corporate landscape

The ISCA SAAC Series aligned with our commitment to serve our members and contribute to the profession and ecosystem positively. For the second consecutive year, the events were broadcast live and made available to accountants around the world, which underlined our vision to be a world-class accountancy body.

Specialisation Pathway

Singapore’s global standing as a trusted hub for business and finance demands a zero tolerance for financial crimes. In February, ISCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to explore a pathway for eligible CPIB officers to become ISCA members, and be conferred the ISCA Financial Forensic Professional (FFP) credential. To ensure that what is taught is timely and relevant to fulfil industry needs, the programme contents are periodically refreshed, following feedback from our stakeholders and the industry.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between ISCA and CPIB to explore a pathway for eligible CPIB officers to attain the ISCA FFP credential

As the digital adoption rate accelerates amid the global pandemic, the ISCA Financial Forensic Accounting (FFA) Qualification continues to be highly sought after by professionals who want to strengthen their knowledge in financial forensics.

Strengthening The Role Of The Audit Committee

With changing business demands and a rapid advancement of technologies along with the resultant risks, there is greater emphasis on the vital role that audit committee members play in the governance and oversight of companies. On that front, we have launched the ISCA Audit Committee Programme, which aims to equip members with essential financial reporting skills to strengthen the overall quality of financial reporting disclosures, reinforce participants’ knowledge on evolving financial reporting requirements and issues to improve financial statements disclosures, and strengthen best practices in corporate governance and risk management. The programme is delivered by industry subject matter experts including industry leaders who are ISCA Financial Statements Review Committee members. 

Going Digital

To partner members in their digital transformation journey, the Institute launched the Digital Learning Guide, which identifies 12 potential roles amid five focus areas of digital transformation. The guide facilitates the matching of roles and relevant courses, making it easy for members to select the right courses to meet their upskilling requirements. The digital-related courses feature over 70 topics ranging from introduction-level insights to on-trend ones like data management, analytics and visualisation, and emerging technologies and their applications.

The Digital Learning Guide identifies 12 potential roles amid five focus areas of digital transformation

In view of the changing business environment and the pervasive use of technology, there is greater need for businesses to understand and manage technology-related risks. ISCA, with the support of SAC, worked with industry experts to develop the ISCA Information Systems Risk Management (ISRM) Certificate to upskill the industry and increase the capabilities of service providers in the area of information systems risk management. This five-day programme is delivered through virtual workshops, with formative and summative assessment components.

RPA Challenge

Disruption can lead to innovation and in July, ISCA launched the RPA Hackathon to challenge finance and audit professionals to develop a robotic process automation (RPA) script to optimise existing processes including audit, and finance, planning and treasury; there was also an open category to encourage innovation in other areas relating to finance and audit professionals’ areas of work.

The winners displayed strong passion and drive to solve industry challenges faced by the accountancy profession. The champion developed a suite of robots to automate repetitive audit procedures to allow audit professionals to focus on value-adding tasks. The five robots developed were used to automate essential but mundane audit procedures including the know-your-customer due diligence screening process, audit confirmations circularisation, sales audit, XBRL financial statements filing, preparation of timesheets and practice management procedures. When deployed, these RPA robots would reap average productivity gains of more than 80%. Another winning solution automated a tedious monthly financial closing process which involves verifying thousands of recurring transactions. The trio from the inhouse finance team embarked on this RPA automation which saves them around 80 hours a month. The final winning solution was a robot developed to help tax teams complete the tedious corporate tax form filing exercise to be directly saved in the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) portal for submission. This tax solution, which could help a company improve up to 85% efficiency, will be suitable for use by all inhouse or outsourced finance teams.

CPD Courses And Complimentary Webinars

Complimentary webinars drew over 17,000 signups with their coverage of a wide range of topics

To further support members, ISCA organised more than 40 complimentary webinars on topics such as strengthening governance, fighting climate change and supporting green finance, driving finance transformation and trends, mitigating financial fraud risk, and coping with stress and anxiety in uncertain times. The highly popular sessions cumulatively garnered 17,195 signups. The Institute has also organised close to 500 CPD courses which received about 23,000 signups.

Research Insights

Our research initiatives are aligned with ISCA’s strategic priorities to be a major influencer of key components in the ecosystem, share relevant insights with our members and uphold professional excellence. In January, ISCA launched a joint study with the Singapore Institute of Technology, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Singapore Institute of Directors titled “A Study On The Profile Of Audit Committees Of Listed Companies In Singapore 2020” – the fourth such study we have done. The report features a comprehensive and holistic view of the audit committees of listed companies in Singapore as at end-2019, and serves as a reference of what regulators and listed companies could further think about, to improve the effectiveness of audit committees.


ISCA’s research studies presented members with relevant and timely insights

With intelligent automation (IA) solutions becoming more affordable and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the pace of digitalisation in organisations, the Institute undertook a collaborative study with AI Singapore and National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, which sought to understand the state of play of IA in the finance function. Launched in August, “The State Of Play Of Intelligent Automation In The Finance Function” explored the importance of upskilling and training for finance employees, and what the C-suite could consider before, during and after IA implementation. Featuring the responses of a cross-section of industry players, the findings would prove indispensable for companies considering or embarking on their IA journey. The salient findings were also shared at the PAIB Conference and in this journal.

SMP Development

ISCA is committed to supporting the SMP sector and our initiatives to drive quality, digitalisation, upskilling and growth are guided by the ISCA Quality Assurance Framework. Our Framework presents four strategic pillars:

(a) Quality Assurance

This year, ISCA expanded its current database of On-the-Job Training Blueprints and launched a new set featuring 10 new audit topics, followed by a series of workshops on its use. To support firms in the implementation of the new quality management standards, ISCA developed a quality management toolkit comprising implementation help tips, practical examples, suggested policies and procedures, and templates. Discussion-based Quality Management workshops were also rolled out to guide firms in the development of their customised quality management manual with the use of the toolkit. ISCA will continue to provide support to firms in the implementation of the new requirements under its Quality Assurance Review Programme. The Institute also continues to update technical publications to drive technical excellence and best practices. These include the “ISCA Audit Manual For Standalone Entities” and “The Illustrative Financial Statements”.

(b) Digital Capability

The Institute maintained its momentum to support firms in building digital capabilities via the virtual SMP Centre. Besides the regular tech talks, RPA workshops and digital advisory support to assist firms in their digital transformation, this year, ISCA brought together solution vendors to showcase accounting and audit-related digital tools in our first-ever virtual technology fair. Held over two days in September, the ASEAN Tech Fair featured 13 plenary sessions of thought-leadership knowledge sharing and tech talks, and played host to 15 virtual booths showcasing live demonstrations of innovative digital solutions for the accounting sector. Close to 1,500 participants from both Singapore and the ASEAN region visited the fair, and more than 1,100 viewers tuned in to the event being livestreamed per day, with an average satisfaction rating of 4.2 out of 5. This inaugural event, which was offered on a complimentary basis to the accounting community in Singapore and the region, was also made successful with the support of strategic partners ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) and the Vietnam Association of Certified Public Accountants (VACPA).

The ASEAN Tech Fair featured 13 plenary sessions of thought-leadership knowledge sharing and tech talks, and played host to 15 virtual booths

(c) Knowledge Circle

In addition to a full suite of CPD courses curated specially for SMPs, ISCA rolled out a new certification programme. The ISCA ISRM Certificate aims to upskill the profession and enable participants to tap new business opportunities.

(d) Opportunities Creation

Border closures have put a dampener on firms’ internationalisation plans. To address this, ISCA collaborated with the VACPA to host the first Virtual Business Networking session in July. In total, 16 SMP participants from each country joined the session. After being briefed about the business and regulatory environments in each country, they entered breakout rooms to network and explore potential collaborations with their overseas counterparts.

ISCA and the Vietnam Association of Certified Public Accountants organised the Virtual Business Networking session for SMPs

ENHANCING PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE

Technical competencies are fundamental to accountancy and finance professionals, which is why the majority of the Institute’s programmes are directed at broadening and deepening our members’ domain knowledge.

Financial Reporting

In January, Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) added Listing Rule 705(3A), which requires issuers reporting under Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (International) (SFRS(I)) to apply SFRS(I) 1-34 Interim Financial Reporting in their interim financial statements. To aid issuers in understanding the implications of the Listing Rule and to highlight the key areas to take note of when preparing the financial statements, ISCA issued Financial Reporting Guidance (FRG) 3 and two sets of accompanying illustrative condensed interim financial statements in May. As the implications of this new requirement are wide-ranging, we dedicated a panel session on this topic at the ISCA PAIB Conference, and investigated it further in the September issue of this journal.

To prepare members early for the Interbank Offered Rate (IBOR) reform, the Institute set up the IBOR Working Group to provide guidance on the accounting issues. We issued Financial Reporting Bulletin (FRB) 9 in October, to share the accounting considerations to assist entities in their understanding of the accounting for financial instruments and hedge accounting, which are affected by the replacement of interest rate benchmarks.

Ethics

A hallmark of the accountancy profession is its commitment to serve the public interest by upholding professional conduct and adhering to the highest ethical standards. ISCA members are required to abide by EP 100 Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. In July, ISCA revised EP 100, bringing it in line with by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA)’s Revisions to Part 4B and Role & Mindset provisions. ISCA also issued EP 100 IG 4 (Revised) in July, to reflect the changes to the definition of a financial institution in EP 100 (Revised on 7 July 2021).

Auditing And Assurance

To raise the bar for quality management in audit firms, ISCA issued several new and revised auditing and assurance standards including three interrelated standards: Singapore Standard on Quality Management (SSQM) 1, Quality Management for Firms that Perform Audits or Reviews of Financial Statements, or Other Assurance or Related Services Engagements; SSQM 2, Engagement Quality Reviews, and Singapore Standard on Auditing (SSA) 220 (Revised), Quality Management for an Audit of Financial Statements. The Institute also issued SSA 315 (Revised 2021), Identifying and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement, as well as SSRS 4400, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements. As the new and revised auditing and assurance standards are expected to create a paradigm shift in the way audit firms approach quality management, we provided more guidance to members on the potential challenges in implementation, at both the ISCA Practitioners Conference and in this journal. During the year, the Institute also issued Audit Guidance Statement (AGS) 13, Data Analytics in a Financial Statements Audit, and SAP 2 (Revised 2021), Auditors and Public Offering Documents to provide clarity and guidance. In addition, there were revisions made to some of the illustrative reports in AGS 1, Sample Independent Auditor’s Report.

It is ISCA’s mission to serve the public interest by helping to instil sound values and ensuring right ethical standards among members and the profession. The ISCA Quality Assurance Review Programme and Practitioner’s Package continue to enhance quality by facilitating the professional development of the accountancy firms. Additionally, the Institute offers ongoing support to firms in their implementation of standards through its quality management workshops and toolkit.

Advocate For Profession And Business Community

Being an advocate for members and the profession aligns with the Institute’s strategic priority to be a major influencer of pivotal components of the ecosystem, such as in standard setting and sharing of business insights with those that matter. This year, the ISCA Pre-Budget Roundtable remained a key platform to gather feedback from the business leaders of trade associations and chambers (TACs), and accountancy firms, regarding the Singapore Budget. The insights and recommendations gathered from the roundtable, and the pre-Budget focus group discussion held in October 2020, were submitted via a comment letter to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) for consideration in its preparation of the Singapore Budget 2021.

After the Singapore Budget 2021 was announced, ISCA also convened a virtual post-Budget focus group discussion in February, involving representatives from selected TACs and accounting firms, to provide feedback to MOF on the announced Budget via a comment letter.

The ISCA Pre-Budget Roundtable remained a key platform to gather feedback from the business leaders regarding the Singapore Budget

To ensure that our voices were heard, we provided 15 comment letters to Consultation Papers, Discussion Papers, Exposure Drafts, Request for Information and Stakeholder Questionnaire issued by international standard-setters such as the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), IESBA, and IFRS Foundation, as well as those issued by our local regulators. On the global front, the topics ranged from financial reporting to auditing and assurance, ethics, quality management and more. At home, we responded to the SGX RegCo’s consultation papers on climate and diversity, and ESG factors; we also responded to ACRA’s proposed amendments to the Accountants Act.

The virtual ACRA-ISCA Dialogue Session in October was attended by more than 30 practitioners. The platform enabled participating practitioners to provide feedback on ACRA’s Practice Monitoring Programme (PMP), an important regulatory instrument in promoting audit quality and providing assurance to the market on the quality of work of public accountants. Prior to the session, ISCA had rolled out a survey to all practitioners to obtain preliminary feedback on the PMP, which helped set a meaningful agenda for the dialogue. At the dialogue session, ISCA shared the findings, as well as the feedback and suggestions received. ACRA also clarified on the regulatory regime and shared more on the PMP inspection process and outcomes, before providing a peek into the future PMP enhancements.

In October, MOF and ACRA issued for public consultation the proposed amendments to the Accountants Act. To solicit meaningful feedback on these important changes, ISCA organised two focus groups to seek views from accounting entities. The focus groups were attended by representatives from large, medium and small public accounting firms. The comment letter, which was submitted to MOF and ACRA, included views raised from these focus groups, as well as feedback provided to the Institute through our other communication channels.

GROWING A HEALTHY PIPELINE OF ACCOUNTANTS

To support our vision to be a world-class accountancy body of trusted professionals, it is vital to grow a sustainable pipeline of accountants in partnership with the Singapore Accountancy Commission.

Outreach To Students

To enhance our student outreach efforts and raise awareness of the ISCA brand among accountancy undergraduates, the Institute created multichannel student engagement platforms via collaborations with the universities. In the annual university orientation activities, ISCA was also invited to share on the membership benefits and career pathways with the freshmen. As of December 7 this year, we have 2,260 ISCA Youth Associates since the launch of the Youth Associates student membership programme in 2019.

The ACCtraordinary webinar was themed “Difference Makers”

In November, the Institute engaged over 500 participants at the annual ACCtraordinary event. Organised by the five polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education, and supported by SAC and ISCA, the webinar featured several ISCA members who shared their professional journeys and perspectives on emerging areas of demand, as well as the required skill sets for accountants of the future. The session addressed their misconceptions and they learned that the role of accountants is very much geared towards adding value with the help of automation and digital transformation. A post-event survey found that 74% of the student-participants expressed an interest in exploring a career in accountancy after they knew more about the profession.

Enhancement To Singapore CA Qualification

The Institute is keenly aware of industry developments. As the demand for more highly skilled accountants grows, SAC launched three new initiatives to compress the time taken to complete the Singapore CA Qualification (Professional Programme). From January 2021, Bachelor of Accountancy students from NUS, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) can sign up for the Professional Programme when they are in their final year of study. The number of examinations for the capstone module has also been increased to twice a year from one previously, and undergraduates who took the Advanced Taxation module at NUS, NTU and SMU are exempted from taking the Taxation module of the Professional Programme.

The Foundation Programme of the Singapore CA Qualification helps to widen the funnel of entry for undergraduates or graduates with recognised non-accountancy degrees who wish to read the Professional Programme. By expanding the talent pool as well as ensuring a timely flow of qualified accountants to meet industry demand, ISCA works together with SAC on the development of the accountancy profession and ecosystem positively, as well as smoothing the way for new entrants into the profession.

“Difference Makers” Campaign

Increasingly, accountants are involved in businesses’ strategic development and decision making at the highest Ievels. To reinforce accountants’ capabilities and the value they bring, ISCA ran the “Difference Makers” campaign from September to mid-December on various digital and social media platforms. The campaign featured a 30-second video, plus a series of Q&A interviews showcasing ISCA members who embody the characteristics of a “difference maker”. The timing was significant because in times of crisis, such as amid the COVID-19 disruption, ensuring organisational financial health is critical for business survival – and Chartered Accountants are the people businesses and governments can and will trust to get businesses and economies moving again.

Through the “Difference Makers” video, the campaign aims to convey the message that Chartered Accountants have the breadth of skills, commitment to ethics and global expertise to help businesses thrive

Recognising New CAs (Singapore) and Members’ Accomplishments

The annual ISCA Members Recognition Ceremony resumed this year after a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic. The October event marked the first time that more than 200 new and senior members were brought together online, where they celebrated the achievements of one another. Sharing the limelight were newly minted CA (Singapore) and FCA (Singapore) members, professionals who received the ISCA FFP, Infrastructure & Project Finance Professional (IPFP), and Professional Business Accountant (PBA) credentials, and long-term ISCA members. This year saw the first cohort of members receive their PBA credential, giving them a competitive professional advantage. The event bore testimony to our members’ commitment to excellence, which would put us in good stead to achieve our vision to be a world-class accountancy body of trusted professionals.


Members taking the ISCA Oath at the ISCA Members Recognition Ceremony

By being in tune with what is happening around us, the Institute can continue to design initiatives that contribute to the development of the accountancy profession and ecosystem positively, and help our members build capabilities so that they can stand out from the crowd. 

RAISING REGIONAL AND GLOBAL PROMINENCE

ISCA engages in activities that improve our professional standing regionally and globally, including taking the lead to raise the collective standard of the profession in the region. As a founding member of AFA, we actively contribute towards AFA’s mission to develop and promote the growth of the accountancy profession in ASEAN. At the November biennial virtual AFA Conference, a key platform for ASEAN accountants and stakeholders to glean quality insights from global experts on current topics of relevance, ISCA President Kon Yin Tong facilitated a session on the future of reporting in view of the global trend towards mandatory sustainability reporting, while ISCA CEO-designate Fann Kor presented on the requisite technological skills and competences to future-proof an SMP practice.


ISCA President Kon Yin Tong facilitated a session on the future of reporting in view of the global trend towards mandatory sustainability reporting at the AFA Conference

ISCA CEO-designate Fann Kor presented on the requisite technological skills and competences to future-proof an SMP practice, at the AFA Conference

In December, Hans Koopmans, Chairman of the ISCA Auditing and Assurance Standards Committee, shared Singapore’s views on IAASB’s Proposed Standard for Audits of Less Complex Entities at the IFAC-IAASB-AFA Roundtable, which was jointly organised by IFAC, IAASB and AFA. Among other comments, Mr Koopmans suggested for IAASB to consider the inclusion of audits of group financial statements within the scope of the proposed standard.

The Institute also participated in several webinars organised by the Jeju Group. The Jeju Group is a coalition comprising ISCA, the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (JICPA) and Korean Institute of Certified Public Accountants (KICPA). The first webinar, in April, was delivered by Board members and staff of IASB. The topic of Business Combination under Common Control (BCUCC) attracted about 200 attendees who participated in discussions on two key aspects of BCUCC, namely, which methods to apply, and how to apply book value and acquisition method. The webinar was supported by AFA, the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA), and South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA). Former ISCA Professional Standards Deputy Director Lim Ju May represented the Institute at the webinar as a panellist.

IFAC and the Jeju Group co-hosted the Sustainability Assurance Roundtable in August, where speakers from the Asia-Pacific region shared about the current practice for assuring sustainability information. The event was attended by IFAC, JICPA, KICPA, ISCA, The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Indonesian Institute of Accountants, The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, CPA Australia, The Institut Akuntan Publik Indonesia, and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ). ISCA’s representative was Simon Yeo, Ernst & Young Partner, Climate Change and Sustainability Services, and member, ISCA Sustainability and Climate Change Committee. Mr Yeo shared his view that professional accountants are well positioned to take the lead in the provision of sustainability assurance services, along with a multidisciplinary team with complementary skills and experiences. However, he highlighted that a challenge that needs to be addressed is the diversity in practice on what gets assured in a sustainability report, and the level of assurance.


Ernst & Young Partner for Climate Change and Sustainability Services Simon Yeo presented at the Sustainability Assurance Roundtable

The key takeaways from the Sustainability Assurance Roundtable were shared with 200 participants at the September Jeju Group webinar on “Sustainability Reporting and Assurance”. The session also provided the IFRS Foundation Trustees’ report on the progress of forming the International Sustainability Standards Board, and facilitated discussions on the current status and main issues of sustainability reporting and assurance in order to meet the investors’ needs for sustainability-related information. The webinar was supported by AFA, CAPA, and SAFA. The Institute was again represented by Former ISCA Professional Standards Deputy Director Ms Lim as a panellist. She emphasised the need for a universal sustainability language, and a sustainability statement that reveals an entity’s sustainability performance and condition. She also proposed for IFAC to develop a comprehensive assurance framework to address the various assurance aspects such as ESG risk management, data collection, materiality and stakeholder engagement.


Participants of the “Sustainability Reporting and Assurance” webinar

A December webinar by the Jeju Group, titled “Exposure Draft Subsidiaries without Public Accountability: Disclosures” provided a presentation on the Exposure Draft Subsidiaries without Public Accountability: Disclosures, and addressed technical questions from the IFRS experts from JICPA, KICPA and ISCA, and from the audience. Reinhard Klemmer, Chairman of ISCA Financial Reporting Committee, represented the Institute as the IFRS expert at the discussion session, where he shared ISCA’s views that projects on climate-related risks and pollutant pricing mechanisms should be ranked as high priority, and to be addressed together.

Ang Pei Fen, ISCA Director of Executive Office and Practice Monitoring, represented the Institute at the Statements of Membership Obligations (SMO) 6 – Investigation and Discipline Workshop in December. Organised by AFA and IFAC, the workshop enabled representatives from AFA member organisations to share their strategies, challenges and fulfilment status in addressing the IFAC SMO 6. Ms Ang shared ISCA’s strategies and actions in complying with the requirements of SMO 6. Making ISCA’s actions and perspectives known served to further elevate ISCA’s prominence and stature among accountancy bodies in the ASEAN region.

ISCA On The Global Stage

As a member of IFAC, the Institute is part of a global network of established and competent professional accountancy organisations (PAOs), with seamless access to the latest information, resources and support to help strengthen our profession. By adopting and adapting the international standards set by IFAC and sharing them with our members, we enhance their professional competences and international mobility. The IFAC membership also moves us closer to our vision to be a world-class accountancy body. In 2019, ISCA Council member Professor Chan Yoke Kai was appointed to the IFAC International Panel on Accountancy Education (IPAE) for a two-year term. That IPAE has recommended his reappointment for a second term from 2022 to 2024 is testimony to IFAC’s confidence and trust in ISCA as a valued strategic partner contributing to the development of the profession; it also places the Institute in a position of influence on accountancy education.


ISCA President Mr Kon was invited to address an UNCTAD-ISAR session on sustainability reporting

In November, Mr Kon was invited to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), where he addressed the delegates at the International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) meeting. ISAR is the United Nations’ focal point on accounting and corporate governance matters, and it was on this prominent platform that Mr Kon spoke on the state of sustainability reporting in Singapore, providing Singapore’s perspectives on an important global topic for the accountancy profession. The exposure raised our standing as a leading PAO of repute on the international stage.

The accounting profession can support development in a number of ways under the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI). With the deepening cooperation between the two cities, especially on financial services under the CCI, the demand for accounting talents is continuously increasing. A December tripartite meeting among ISCA, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and The Chongqing Institute Of Certified Public Accountants (CQICPA) saw discussions on talent cultivation, such as training for members; membership structure, and membership pathways. The ISCA team in attendance consisted of ISCA President Mr Kon; ISCA CEO-designate Ms Kor; Director of Professional Development and Qualifications Soh Suat Lay; Director of Members Experience and Communications Jennifer Toh, and Deputy Director of Members and Stakeholders Engagement Fua Qiu Lin.


Tripartite meeting among ISCA, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and The Chongqing Institute Of Certified Public Accountants

Reciprocal Agreement

By elevating our members’ professional credentials so that they are recognised wherever they go, we open more doors for our members and give them a competitive advantage beyond Singapore’s shores. In May, ISCA concluded our fourth reciprocal agreement – with CA ANZ – which allows eligible CA (Singapore) members to obtain the CA ANZ CA designation without having to fulfil additional professional or educational requirements, and vice versa. This latest agreement adds to our similar arrangements with Chartered Accountants Ireland, ICAEW, and Institute of Charted Accountants of Scotland.


The Reciprocal Recognition Signing Ceremony between ISCA and CA ANZ opened more doors for members overseas, giving them a competitive edge

CARING FOR THE COMMUNITY

Low-income families tend to be among the hardest-hit groups in times of crisis. Thus, despite the challenging business outlook, ISCA and its members continued to support the community. The inaugural ISCA Cares Charity Golf event took place in March under strict safe management measures, and raised over $421,000 including matching funds from Tote Board for ISCA Cares.


The ISCA Charity Golf event, postponed from last year, was a fund-raiser in support of ISCA Cares

Our members, who already contribute to the community in many ways, now have another avenue to do so. In May, ISCA and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) – Singapore Cares Office signed an MOU to grow skills-based volunteerism, with the aim for Social Service Agencies to benefit from the skills and expertise of professional accountants.


With the signing of the MOU, ISCA will serve as a key SG Cares national-level intermediary to grow skills-based volunteerism within the accountancy profession. (From left) Signatories ISCA President Mr Kon and Dr Ang Hak Seng, Deputy Secretary, MCCY (2017–2021); the ceremony was witnessed by Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law (centre)

At the ISCA Cares Bursary Awards Ceremony in early December, a total bursary amount of $133,000 was awarded to 40 bursary recipients, known as ISCA Cares Ambassadors. The hybrid awards ceremony was held at EY Wavespace and attended by close to 80 guests in person and virtually, including family members of the student beneficiaries, donors, representatives from government agencies and institutes of higher learning, ISCA Council members and ISCA Cares Board members.


ISCA Cares Chairman Max Loh gave the welcome address at the ISCA Cares Bursary Awards Ceremony 2021, with ISCA Cares Board members (seated, from left), ISCA CEO-designate Ms Kor, John Teo, Noor Quek and ISCA President Mr Kon and students listening on

In conjunction with SG Cares Giving Week in December, ISCA, together with four Bazaar Sponsors – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – and Outreach Partners from 14 accounting firms, have come together to organise the “Counting on You” Giving Bazaar. The bazaar is held online via Fairmarch’s platform – an online marketplace for socially and environmentally responsible businesses – till end-December 2021. The bazaar features items from close to 60 social enterprises and charities including Alzheimer’s Disease Association, Arts at Metta, St Andrew’s Autism Centre and ISCA Cares. All proceeds raised through the sale of products via Fairmarch will go directly to the respective social enterprises and charities to support their beneficiaries and causes.

All proceeds raised will go directly to the respective social enterprises and charities to support their beneficiaries and causes

CONCLUSION

Over the past year, all our initiatives have been directed at advancing the ISCA vision to be a world-class accountancy body of trusted professionals, contributing towards an innovative and sustainable economy. With your support, we know we can RISE to the tasks ahead and achieve our goals. Guided by our mission statements, we will forge ahead with confidence and commitment.

See how ISCA supported members and the profession in 2021: