SINGAPORE - Singapore's finance and accounting professionals say they are not prepared for future job demands amid disruptions in the economy and lack workplace support to develop the necessary skills, according to a survey by Ernst & Young and CPA Australia.
The survey polled 150 Singapore-based accounting and finance professionals between August and September this year.
An overwhelming 79 per cent of the respondents said they are currently not equipped with the necessary skills to meet the demands of their job in 10 years' time. The top inhibitors preventing them from acquiring new skills include a lack of time (73 per cent), financial resources (45 per cent) and employer support (37 per cent).
According to the survey, six in 10 found the current curriculum offered by education and professional bodies insufficient to develop future-ready skills. A similar number said their organisations are not helping them do so.
The survey respondents said that professional bodies, educational institutions and the Government can help by infusing technology into accounting curriculum or by introducing courses on adjacent skills so they can upskill.
Melvin Yong, Singapore country head at CPA Australia, said: "Acquiring skills of the future is a life-long learning journey that individuals must personally own. While organisations, educators and professional bodies can help, individuals may wish to look into how they can continually invest in their future, leverage advancements in technology, and ensure they continue to enhance their relevance to their organisations and are never left behind in the disruptive era."
The survey revealed that the top drivers of change that have the most impact on the accounting profession are the spread of digital technologies and business model disruptions; increased regulation and governance; and increasing globalisation.
Against these changes, the top skills that finance and accounting professionals think they need to be equipped with in 10 years' time are strategic thinking, business acumen, leadership, communication and influencing, and analysis and advisory. Technology skills, such as information technology and digital skills, and information management skills (such as statistical analysis and data mining), are also gaining prominence.
Mr Vincent Toong, EY assurance partner said: "The evolving role of the accounting professional calls for new skill sets, and it is clear that they need more than technical skills if they are to remain relevant in organisations. As accounting professionals are increasingly being asked to be business advisers to other functions in their organisations, it is not surprising that strategic thinking and business acumen and leadership skills rank high."
Interestingly, risk management skills did not feature among the top skills that finance and accounting professionals think they will need to be future ready, despite being regarded highly by chief financial officers in an EY 2016 survey.
Said Mr Toong of the divergence in views: "Larger organisations typically have a separate risk function while in smaller firms, the responsibility often rests with the owner-management or is outsourced to professionals. Hence many finance and accounting professionals do not see risk management as core to their role."
The survey report was launched on Wednesday (Oct 11) at CPA Congress 2017 held at the Raffles City Convention Centre.