As a prospective student of accountancy or an accountant who wishes to further their career in this field, you are probably on the lookout for the best post-graduate course in accountancy. Remember, a mere master's degree wouldn't give you the necessary leverage. You need to take account of various factors that determine the course of your career - the university you graduate from, the country you choose to work in, the socio-economic status of the country and how well developed the accountancy sector is. We bring to you a new series - 'Accountancy Around the World', where we focus on market trends, professional scenarios, and career opportunities in different regions of the world. This first feature in the series focuses on the Asia-Pacific realm.
The Asia-Pacific region is fast rising to become one of the most sought after business hubs in the world. This paves the way for an array of flourishing careers, and those revolving around the accountancy sector wouldn't lag behind.
Market Trends in Asia:
Like most other markets, the market for the accountancy sector in Asia consists of revenues generated by firms involved in designing, preparing, and auditing accounting records, income from tax, audits, and the provision of advisory services. According to the 'Accountancy in Asia-Pacific' report, the accountancy market in the APAC region showed a compound annual growth rate of a whopping 7.2%, in a span of just 4 years between 2011 and 2015.
The audit segment grabbed the biggest chunk of the market, contributing nearly 43.7% of the market's overall value.
Asia is a continent of contrasts, and its accounting profession follows suit. While the sector is as well developed in the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore, as in any other country/region in the Western world, it is rather an emerging one in the fast-growing economies, such as China and India. On the other hand, in less developed countries, like Myanmar and Vietnam, the accountancy profession has barely started its journey towards international standards. Here's a look at the professional scenario for accountancy in various countries in Asia:
China: China is going international, and its culture, ethics, and practices are becoming increasingly professional with time. The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA) claims that its alumni rank among the finest in the world.
India: A big country like India has a huge demand for a well-developed accountancy sector, but various challenges have made the profession remain an upcoming one. However, growth is steady. Institute of Chartered Accountants in India (ICAI) is the primary body for accountants.
Malaysia: The aspirations of Malaysia to become a high-income knowledge economy by 2020 can translate into development of the accountancy sector as well. However, despite a well-established centre of training excellence, retention of talent is the main concern for the Malaysian accounting sector, as most accountancy graduates prefer to work abroad.
Japan: Three recessions in five years, depreciation of the yen and a struggling economy are the not-so-favourable conditions prevalent in this country and its accountancy sector. Japanese accounting practices are slowly shifting towards International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), but face pricing pressures and tough competition. Foreign accountants can practice only after earning a qualification through the Japanese accountancy examinations, but the language barrier proves to be yet another challenge.
Hong Kong: The accounting profession in Hong Kong is large with respect to the size of its economy, reflecting that Hong Kong is a major financial centre. Hong Kong’s financial reporting standards have converged with IFRS since 2005. The accountancy body - Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), operates like any other national professional accountancy body.
- Singapore: Singapore is a major business hub in South-east Asia, with an advanced approach to accounting standards. Singapore Financial Reporting Standards are largely based on IFRS, with a few small changes to take account of local needs. Full convergence with IFRS for listed companies will be achieved in 2018. The standards are very high, and there is no sacrifice in the quality of talent hired, at both entry and higher career levels. The Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) has designated a new qualification - Chartered Accountant of Singapore, which has a very high bar for entry. Education is highly specialized too - programmes like the MSc in Accountancy from the Nanyang Business School at NTU train the workforce to be industry ready.
The Asia-Pacific accountancy market is characterized by the august presence of four huge, leading players, often known as the Big 4 - Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC. These imposing players exercise great influence, mainly at the upper rungs of the accountancy market. Further, these firms are reshaping themselves into more dynamic and modern players, keeping in mind the fast pace of business and lifestyle in the cosmopolitan Asian cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
In order to play a major role in the fast-expanding economies, the accounting profession should move beyond just accounting practices, standards, and technical skills, and needs to produce fully rounded, capable business leaders. A step ahead would be to inculcate broad-based leadership skills into students of accounting right through their graduation. If you are looking at taking accountancy as a profession, you should consider enrolling yourself into a holistic master's degree programme, like the MSc in Accountancy from the Nanyang Business School, NTU, Singapore that enables you to become a future ready accountant!