Half of company accountants 'unsure of role', should raise quality of financial reporting

Around half of Singapore company accountants here seem to be unclear of their roles, delegating some responsibilities that should be under their care to external auditors.

These include ensuring that the company's financial statements comply with the relevant accounting standards, according to a survey unveiled Wednesday at the Public Accountants Conference.

"Views from the focus group suggest that some company management are not fully engaged in financial reporting because they see it as a compliance exercise and many rely on their auditors to drive the process," said the report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), a professional accountants body, and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), which is Singapore's government body in charge of business entities and public accountants.

In fact, companies' internal accountants are responsible for preparing financial statements and ensuring they meet the accounting standards. External auditors come in only to check the veracity of the figures.

With this, the Government on Wednesday told companies that they must take greater ownership of their own financial reporting.

"All stakeholders - the directors and the audit committees, management, investors, the accounting profession and the regulator - have a role to play in strengthening the financial reporting value chain," said Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo at the conference.

New tools were also released at the conference to help companies improve their accounting.

These included a toolkit, "Getting Your Accounting Right", which was developed by the Singapore Management University's School of Accountancy and CPA Australia, another professional accounting body.