New office to help legal, accountancy services grow beyond local markets

SINGAPORE - A new inter-agency programme is being set up to help coordinate initiatives to grow Singapore's legal and accountancy services.

The office set up jointly by the Law Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore will be opened in May.

This was in response to the recommendations by the Committee on the Future Economy's working group on legal and accounting services, following a year long review.

The recommendations, which were revealed on Friday (Apr 7), stressed the need for law and accounting firms to compete for international demand by capability development, collaboration and innovation.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said in a press briefing that the legal and accounting industries here are in a good shape, but companies must look beyond the small domestic market for greater growth.

There are currently 6,444 lawyers and 874 law firms in Singapore, the latest official data showed. The accounting industry hires 17,812 employees across 689 companies. The two industries had a combined S$1.1 billion worth of services exports last year.

There's no concern of supply outgrowing demand, Ms Indranee said, noting that there are plenty of growth areas such as business valuation, internal audit restructuring and intellectual property across Southeast Asia.

But deeper skillsets are required to provide more value-add, while the use of technology for better productivity still has plenty of room for improvement, she said.