The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has announced that the first batch of 47 ISCA members have been conferred the ASEAN Chartered Professional Accountant (ASEAN CPA) title by the ASEAN Chartered Professional Accountant Coordinating Committee (ACPACC).
With members comprising representatives from government agencies, national accountancy bodies and regulators, the committee was established to confer the ASEAN CPA title.
This is in light of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Accountancy Services (MRAA) signed by all ASEAN Trade Ministers in 2014 to liberalize trade in services amongst ASEAN countries.
Objectives of arrangement
The objectives of this arrangement are to facilitate mobility of accountancy services professionals across ASEAN Member States; enhance the current regime for the provision of accountancy services in ASEAN and exchange information in order to promote adoption of best practices on standards and qualifications.
As the ACPACC chair since September 2015, ISCA was responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of the MRAA and promoting the acceptance of the ASEAN Chartered Professional Accountant across ASEAN. Singapore will hand over the ACPACC Chairmanship to Thailand in October 2017.
Those conferred with the ASEAN CPA title can provide accountancy services in ASEAN without having to go through extensive re-training and re-qualification procedures. This provides more opportunities for accounting professionals and firms in ASEAN markets, and facilitates trade in services in the region.
According to IHS Global Insight, the combined GDPs of ASEAN is projected to hit USD2.6 trillion (SGD 3.6 trillion), with economic growth expected at 4.6 percent for 2017.
The region is expected to remain strong in its economic growth, and is projected to reach USD6.4 trillion (SGD 8.85 trillion) in 2027. This translates to great business potential for Singapore firms, bringing together a market of more than 600 million people in the region. With 47 of its members on board, this is Singapore’s first batch of ASEAN CPAs since the ASEAN MRAA was signed.
Elevates value of accounting professionals
“As the ASEAN region continues to grow, so does the demand for quality accountancy services,” says ISCA President and ACPACC Chair Gerard Ee. “By having the ASEAN CPA designation, it elevates the value of accounting professionals to new heights. New opportunities abound for those that are able to apply their skills not only on local shores, but overseas as well.”
“The ASEAN CPA scheme supports the Committee for the Future Economy’s strategy to deepen and diversify Singapore’s international connections so as to build stronger economic connections within ASEAN and facilitate trade within the region.” he added.
Market access to the rest of ASEAN
Previously, in the absence of the MRAA, a Chartered Accountant of Singapore or Associate member of ISCA may have faced challenges in providing non-regulated accountancy services in ASEAN member states. They can now do so under the MRAA. These accountancy services exclude signing off the independent auditor’s report and those that require domestic licensing.
An ASEAN CPA can then apply to be a Registered Foreign Professional Accountant (RFPA) with any of the other ASEAN countries and provide accountancy services in those markets. ACPACC is currently in discussion over the RFPA registration process.
ISCA’s initiatives to advance the accountancy profession in ASEAN
ISCA has been contributing to the growth of the accounting profession across the ASEAN region.
In 2016, ISCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Laos Chamber of Professional Accountants and Auditors (LCPAA) to explore opportunities for ISCA and Laos to co-develop the accountancy profession in Laos through capability building programmes.
This includes areas such as the training of accounting technicians, continuous professional development and exchange of expertise, experiences and best practices between the accountancy firms of Singapore and Laos. There are similar arrangements for other emerging markets in ASEAN Myanmar in the works as well.
Earlier this year, the Institute published the Micro Accounting Model (MAM), an intuitive framework which aims to assist micro, small and medium businesses operating in ASEAN to adopt accrual accounting, which is well received in the region.
ISCA also works with Spring Singapore to drive transformation in the accountancy sector, under the Local Enterprise Association Development (LEAD) programme. This includes helping local accounting firms pursue overseas revenue growth through dedicated regional market access trips to ASEAN countries.