Singapore Accountancy Commission to look into pay, manpower needs

One on one interview with Mr Uantchern Loh, chief executive of the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC). If Mr Uantchern Loh had his way, first-year accountants would be earning at least $4,000 monthly. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN
One on one interview with Mr Uantchern Loh, chief executive of the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC). If Mr Uantchern Loh had his way, first-year accountants would be earning at least $4,000 monthly. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

SINGAPORE - If Mr Uantchern Loh had his way, first-year accountants would be earning at least $4,000 monthly.

This would be benchmarked against other professions, like in the law and medical sectors, the chief executive of the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) told The Straits Times on Thursday.

Such issues as pay and manpower needs are currently being studied by the Accountancy Sector Research Centre (ASRC), the research arm of the SAC.

The ASRC is just one of a slew of milestones the SAC has achieved since it was formed in April last year to raise the profile of the sector.

In this short time, it has also established the Singapore CFO Institute, the Asia Centre of Excellence for Internal Audit and the Institute of Valuers and Appraisers of Singapore to deepen expertise in these specialisations.

Mr Loh said the ASRC is studying how to get fees up in the audit sector, and how to get more non-audit fees.

"This is where (we can develop) areas like integrated reporting, risk management, internal audit, business valuation, international tax...Singapore can be a centre of excellence."

"We look at things (like fees) where things have been status quo and nobody has been questioning them."

On how monthly salaries - currently $2,800 to $3,000 at the Big Four firms, and about $2,200 at smaller firms - can go up, he said firms must be willing to pay for quality hires, and fees must go up to reflect increased quality.

"It's complicated because we don't know which comes first. But we must be willing to look at it," said Mr Loh.