Singapore accountants "need to offer more high value-added services"

SINGAPORE - Accounting professionals in Singapore should go beyond providing traditional audit services to offering more high value-added corporate advisory services as well, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck on Thursday.

These include business valuation, internal audit, risk management and international tax, he said in a speech at the Singapore Accountancy Convention's ISCA Accounting Conference, organised by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).

Referring to the theme of this year's conference, which was held at Marina Bay Sands, Mr Teo said accountants need to "stay ahead of the curve" amid the fast-changing global business environment and more complex regulations.

Apart from growing their service offerings, accountants could also advise on more than just company financials. In integrated reporting, for instance, corporate information is bundled with financial reports to present a more holistic view of a company, he said.

"As integrated reporting takes off globally, there will be an opportunity for the Singapore accountancy profession to lead the transformation and be a pioneer of the corporate reporting evolution in the region," Mr Teo added.

In a separate speech, ISCA president Gerard Ee noted that Singapore-listed firms are on track to be fully compliant with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by 2018, and accountants here need to gear up for that. In particular, there will be new standards on the reporting of revenue, financial instruments and leases.

Globally, the International Accounting Standards Board has undertaken several projects to provide unbiased, transparent and relevant financial information amid the growing complexity of the financial environment as highlighted by the 2008 global financial crisis, Mr Ee said.

As to whether these improvements will stand up to the next crisis, KPMG Asia Pacific chairman Tham Sai Choy said it is an "ongoing project".

"Our job as accountants is to report faithfully on the business, and as auditors to blow the whistle on what is not reported accurately," said Mr Tham, who was one of the panellists at the conference on Thursday.

"It is an ongoing project but I believe we are headed in the right direction and asking the right questions of ourselves."