SINGAPORE - Within a year of local accountancy firm Nexia TS launching in 2017 a cloud-based accounting platform that lets clients upload documents digitally, the firm found that it has helped raise productivity and reduce mistakes.
It also freed up employees to spend more time on activities that add more value.
To help small- and medium-sized practices (SMP) in Singapore's accountancy sector adopt technology for greater productivity and competitiveness, a step-by-step guide has been launched.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah said on Thursday (Aug 22) that the guide - the Accountancy Industry Digital Plan - will help these practices explore opportunities to go digital.
Small- and medium-sized practices account for 98 per cent of the accountancy sector.
Ms Indranee said that as digitalisation and new technologies blur traditional sectoral lines and revolutionise the economic landscape, accountants will need to rapidly evolve their skills to meet the changing landscape.
Accountants will also have to redefine their value-add to businesses, she added.
"I would strongly encourage accountants to consider how you can use new technologies to reshape the way accountants provide services to businesses and to leverage Singapore's strategic position in fast-growing Asia as a base to go regional," she said.
The guide follows the introduction last year of a $2.4 million programme which would give small- and medium-sized practices funding support of up to $30,000 each to adopt technology solutions.
The guide is part of an Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) programme for small- and medium-sized enterprises to help various sectors embark on their digital transformation journey.
Similar industry digital plans have been launched for the logistics, media and food sectors, among others.
The Accountancy Industry Digital Plan will include a list of solutions to guide small- and medium-sized practices in their adoption of technology at various stages of their growth.
This can start at the basic level of digitalising hardcopy documents, for example, and move to more advanced levels where artificial intelligence-empowered chatbots are tapped to handle routine customer queries such as account balances and status of payments.
Professionals in the sector can check against a list of training courses to acquire new digital skills relevant to their jobs, such as tax data analytics and an introduction to cyber security risks.
Along with the plan, an SMP Centre and an Accounting Technology And Innovation Centre (AccTech Centre) were also launched.
The SMP Centre (www.SMPcentre.org.sg) is a dedicated online portal to help accountancy practices be more digitally competitive.
There, small- and medium-sized practices can access a self-assessment tool kit to determine their digital readiness, as well as source for available funding schemes in their digital transformation journey.
Those looking for more advanced and innovative processes can visit the AccTech Centre, located at the Singapore Institute of Technology, where participants can work with academics, technology partners and government agencies to prototype new projects.
The AccTech Centre will be in operation starting Sept 1.
By 2020, under the accountancy road map, the sector will see 2,000 new jobs created and an annual growth of 5.6 per cent to reach $2.03 billion in value-add.
Mr Evan Law, chief executive of the Singapore Accountancy Commission, said: "The digital transformation of the accountancy sector and the development of accountancy talent for the future will provide the competitive edge we need to develop Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub."