Accounting firms see staff growth in 2017

Singapore's accounting sector is expected to increase its headcount this year, albeit at a slower pace than last year.

This is according to the AEcensus2016, a national census of accounting firms, partnerships and corporations conducted by the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC).

The study found that 64 per cent of accounting entities expect head count to grow this year.

This is slightly lower than last year, when 67 per cent said they are likely to hire more staff.

This means the accountancy workforce will likely increase 4.5 per cent this year, lower than the 5.8 per cent estimated for 2016, the report said.

The sector employed a workforce of more than 17,800 in 2015, a 2.4 per cent increase over 2014.

Total market revenue in the accounting sector surpassed $2 billion for the first time in 2015, an increase of 9 per cent over 2014.

The Big Four accounting firms generated approximately two- thirds of the revenue at $1.367 billion, with the remaining 685 companies logging turnover of about $695 million.

Productivity also went up, with average revenue per employee rising 2.5 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014.

Audit and assurance services continued to be the primary sources of revenue, making up 51 per cent of total turnover.

However, the Big Four firms were more diversified than others, with business advisory and tax-related services contributing 52 per cent of their revenue while audit and assurance revenues made up 47 per cent.

The census also found that the accounting workforce became better skilled in 2015 with 43 per cent holding professional qualifications, a 6 per cent rise over 2014.

The sector is also getting more work from overseas - respondents reported a 4 per cent rise over 2014 in revenue coming from work performed outside Singapore.

This regional work comprises 12 per cent of total revenue.

"More accounting entities are delivering a wider diversity of services, looking beyond Singapore shores for work, embracing technology and developing their workforce with deeper skills - initiatives that reflect the recommendations of the Committee on the Future Economy," said Mr Evan Law, the chief executive of SAC.

He added: "The Singapore Accountancy Commission will use the findings to develop new growth strategies and road maps, and work closely with our stakeholders to develop Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'Accounting firms see staff growth in 2017'. Print Edition | Subscribe