05 Jan 2022

Both segments will continue to grow, creating new job roles and increased demand for manpower. New initiatives are in the pipeline to support companies and professionals in their efforts to be competitive and ready for the future of work.

 

Singapore, 5 January 2022 - The Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), supported by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), launch the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs) for In-house Finance & Accounting (F&A) functions and Accounting Practices today, with Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and National Development, gracing the event as guest-of-honour. (Click here for Minister's speech)


2.    JTMs identify key technologies that are driving change; the impact on individual job roles; and the pathways for employers to transform jobs and for workers to acquire requisite skills as existing job roles evolve and new job roles emerge. In view of this, EY and Deloitte were commissioned to study the Accounting Practices, and the In-house F&A functions, respectively. (See Annex 1 for an overview of the findings) 


3.    The JTM studies indicate the need to embrace technology and acquire new skills at all levels to remain competitive and relevant in today’s increasingly complex business and regulatory environment. Professionals whose jobs are less impacted by technology will benefit from the automation of some tasks to enhance their ability to focus on higher value-adding tasks requiring judgment, deep technical knowledge and business acumen. Job roles that focus on process-oriented tasks will benefit from greater automation for improved efficiency and accuracy; job redesign to allow employees to add greater value to the business; and training in skills in demand.  New initiatives will be launched to support employers and employees in their efforts to be competitive and ready for the future of work.  
 

Continued growth, including in emerging areas, will spur demand for manpower and the emergence of new job roles 

4.    Demand for accounting and other professionals will continue to grow in these two segments, with a projected demand of 6,000 to 7,000 new accounting jobs by 2025. This will add to the current workforce of more than 100,000. (Current workforce size: more than 80,000 employees in In-house F&A functions and about 20,000 in Accounting Practices) 


5.    Accounting Practices will see accelerated growth in demand for manpower due to increasing digital maturity of both clients and accounting practices; rise in clients’ demand for advisory services; and increasing emphasis on non-financial metrics in valuing businesses. Increased demand is expected in Tax, Risk Advisory, Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Forensics and Business Valuation.  


6.     The In-House F&A segment will continue to be critical in supporting companies as they grow and expand from Singapore into the region. 


7.    As the global business environment changes, new job roles are emerging to meet new requirements.  Eight new job roles have been identified in the In-House F&A functions, and three new job roles have been identified for Accounting Practices. Among the total of 11 emerging job roles are Specialist Ethical Hackers, Citizen Data Scientists, and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Specialists, to name a few. (Please see Annex 2 for the full list; and Annex 3 for profile stories)


8.    Mr Evan Law, Chief Executive, SAC, said, “With the emergence of new job roles, there is a strong demand for accountants qualified in diverse areas. Professionals who commit to continuous learning, and firms that prepare for the future of work by investing in technology, redesigning jobs and training staff will benefit by remaining relevant in the long run.” 


New initiatives launched for job transformation and upskilling 
 
9.    The JTMs studied a total of 58 job roles of which the majority, ie, 45 job roles (78%), will require minimal or moderate job redesign over the next two to five years. The studies found that these job roles are not susceptible to displacement as they involve more value-adding tasks. 


10.    The remaining 13 job roles studied will see a high degree of change in job tasks and require greater job redesign and reskilling of employees over the next two to five years. These roles predominantly involve repetitive tasks that can be automated. The 13 job roles comprise mainly Associates, Executives and Accounts Assistants in various tracks in both Accounting Practices, and In-House F&A functions.


11.    The JTMs also indicate the need for upskilling in technology and soft skills. Technology skills that are increasingly in demand include the application of Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Analysis and Interpretation, and Robotics and Automation. Soft skills required include adaptability, creative thinking, and customer orientation, amongst others.


12.    New initiatives will be launched to support employers and employees in their transformation and upskilling efforts. EDB, SAC and WSG are working with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) on various initiatives which include the following:  

  • Accountancy Job Redesign Initiative and Toolkit 
  • Career Conversion Programme for Accounting Professionals 
  • In-house Finance & Accounting Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQ) for Corporates and Individuals 
  • Accountancy Career Hub

 

Accountancy Job Redesign Initiative and Toolkit 

13.    The Accountancy Job Redesign Initiative is launched today by WSG, SAC and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) to enhance the roles of F&A professionals, and improve the productivity of F&A functions by leveraging on technology. Enterprises with In-House F&A functions and Accounting Practices will be able to review accounting work processes to streamline transactional or repetitive tasks and improve productivity, increase job value and attractiveness through job enrichment or enlargement, and/or implement accounting technology solution(s). Eligible enterprises will also be able to receive funding support through the Productivity Solutions Grant for Job Redesign (PSG-JR) at up to 80% of the job redesign consultancy cost, capped at $30,000 per enterprise till 31 March 2022. Beyond 31 March 2022, the PSG-JR funding rate will revert to up to 70% of the job redesign consultancy cost, capped at $30,000 per enterprise. This initiative aims to benefit at least 50 companies and over 150 professionals for a start. 


14.    The Job Redesign Initiative was piloted with nine Small and Medium-sized Practices in April 2020 by WSG, SAC and ISCA with good outcomes, such as increased productivity and job value enhancements of over 40 employees’ roles, of whom 17% are mature workers. (Please see Annex 4 for more information on the pilot and for profile stories)


15.    WSG, EDB, SAC and ISCA have developed the Job Redesign Toolkit [see Accountancy Job Redesign Toolkit], a step-by-step guide to redesign the top four job roles impacted by technology as cited by the JTMs. The toolkit currently features two job roles, ie, Accounts Executive, and Senior Accounts Executive/Accountant. It will be available for the remaining two roles, Tax Associate and Audit Associate, in late Q1 2022. The toolkit will include a job evolution and training roadmap, change management strategies, case studies, and available funding options for job redesign and adoption of technology solutions.


Career Conversion Programme for Accounting Professionals 

16.    The Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for Accounting Professionals will be launched in Q2 2022 for local PMETs, without an accounting background, to acquire the skills and experience required to take on Accountancy roles to meet the projected manpower demands in the sector. The CCP also aims to reskill existing employees to take on redesigned or new roles. Some of these accountancy roles include specialist tracks in accounting, audit and tax. 


17.    ISCA and the Tax Academy of Singapore are advising on the development of the CCP programme archetype.  

 

In-House Finance & Accounting Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQ) for Corporates and Individuals 

18.     EDB launches the Corporate and Individual SAQ today on their website for employers and F&A practitioners to assess their current level of F&A sophistication, and take steps to progress to their desired level of sophistication. The results of the online self-assessment are compiled in a Report Card which will show a customised set of recommendations and links to resources that support F&A transformation. (Please see Annex 5 for more information)


19.    “As companies seek continued growth in an increasingly complex operating environment, the F&A function will play an increasingly significant role driving key business decisions,” said Mr Damian Chan, Executive Vice President, EDB. “The new in-house F&A SAQ will be an invaluable tool for companies at various stages of the F&A transformation journey. In addition, EDB and our partners are committed to working with such companies to strengthen existing capabilities, and develop new skills in emerging areas such as data and analytics, sustainability and control and governance.”


Accountancy Career Hub (ACH)

20.    The Accountancy Career Hub (ACH) will be set up in Q1 2022. It aims to be the main touchpoint providing employment and employability support for the accountancy sector. It will offer jobseekers career guidance, job matching services, skills upgrading courses, and industry-specific events.  Both jobseekers looking to enter the industry and accountancy professionals exploring new career tracks within the sector will find relevant help at the hub.  ACH is a joint initiative by NTUC’s e2i, SAC and ISCA. More information about ACH here.

 

Keeping relevant for the future of accounting 

21.    As the evolving business environment presents fresh opportunities and the prospect of  robust growth of accountancy jobs, investing in digital technologies, redesigning jobs, and reskilling will keep accounting professionals relevant for the long run. (See Annex 6 profile stories)

22.    The JTMs were launched today at a virtual event attended by more than 200 senior accountancy professionals, with ISCA as a Strategic Partner for the event. 

23.    The JTM reports are here.

24.    Please refer to the following for more information: 

Annex 1: Info-graphical presentation of the JTM studies 

Annex 2: Emerging Roles 

Annex 3: Profile stories: Transition to an emerging job role

Annex 4: Accountancy Job Redesign Pilot Programme 

Annex 5: In-house Finance & Accounting Corporate and Individual Self-Assessment  
                Questionnaires (SAQ)

Annex 6: Profile stories: Companies which transformed their in-house F&A functions 
                through digitalisation, job redesign and upskilling

 

Annex 1 

Info-graphical Presentation of the JTM studies


 


 

Annex 2

Emerging Job Roles

In-house F&A Function
As F&A functions move up the levels of sophistication, new responsibilities and emerging roles may surface to support the new requirements of F&A functions. The study identified 8 emerging roles that are expected to grow and continue to be in demand in the next 2 to 5 years.

 

Emerging Roles

Overview of Responsibilities

1

Regional Controller

Responsible for defining F&A policies, providing technical accounting advice, and providing oversight of F&A operations as companies grow regionally

2

Citizen Data Scientist

Responsible for providing data-driven insights and analysis, using analytical tools and methods to assist in business decision making

3

Finance Data Steward

Responsible for managing and governing current and anticipated data needs on a day-to-day basis

4

Vendor Relationship Manager

Responsible for overseeing F&A vendors and ensuring quality services are delivered, while maintaining strong relationships both internally and externally

5

Finance Transformation Lead

Responsible for managing and implementing the F&A transformation roadmap

6

Finance Automation Lead

Responsible for automating F&A processes to drive greater efficiency, compliance, and productivity

7

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Lead

Responsible for establishing frameworks to measure, quantify and report on activities that drive value, aligning the pursuit of profit with the need to build a sustainable future organisation

8

Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Lead

Responsible for optimising enterprise risk, helping to increase transparency and understanding of emerging issues that affect business performance

 

Accounting Practices
With the increased pace of digitalisation and megatrends impacting the accounting practices segment, new roles will emerge to meet the needs and expectations of clients. Hence, accounting practices will require talent with different skillsets to join the sector. The JTM for Accounting Practices cited the emergence of three new job roles.
 

 

Emerging Roles

Overview of Responsibilities

1

IT Auditor

Assists clients in assessing/evaluating IT systems and mitigating IT-related business risks to ensure IT control. These engagements would be assurance and risk advisory in nature.

2

Ethical Hacker

Performs penetration testing and cybersecurity testing methodologies to ensure proper governance and controls are in place to detect vulnerabilities in clients’ systems, pre-empt attacks and strengthen systems.

3

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Specialist

Develops and reviews ESG frameworks and policies including ESG reporting and risk management structures according to relevant industry standards and best practices.

 

Annex 3


Profile Stories

Transition to an emerging job role


Oh Boon Long
Senior Treasury Analyst (CTP), SABIC

 

From Treasury Executive to Finance Transformation Specialist

Boon Long started his career with a Dutch MNC as a project associate, managing its Treasury Transformation Project. This role provided him with an opportunity to learn about project management, as well as to gain insights into how the Treasury function creates value to corporates. Three years into the role, he took on a contract role in the global Treasury department of a semiconductor business to expand his knowledge in cash, debt, working capital, FX and counterparty risk management. Boon Long gained valuable exposure to a wide scope of Treasury activities. After his contract ended, he joined a US piping MNC where he was given the opportunity to advise senior stakeholders on various aspects of Treasury such as project financing, cash & liquidity management, and trade finance. When the opportunity presented itself, he joined one of the largest petrochemicals manufacturers to drive its Treasury Transformation Project, which allowed him to witness how the Treasury function transformed into a key business partner within the organisation. 


Boon Long earned the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) credential to enhance his Treasury management skills. Companies recognise the CTP credential as a benchmark of competency, and it provided his employers with the assurance of his professionalism and skills to support their Treasury activities. Managing projects has also taught him the importance of interpersonal skills and communication. 


 

Lee Yong Ghoon
Senior IT Auditor, RSM Singapore

Yong Ghoon is an IT auditor at RSM Singapore. She has always wanted to be in this profession since her university days. She attributes this aspiration to her personality – she enjoys learning new skills and solving complex problems. Yong Ghoon believes that the demand for this profession would continue to grow, looking at the speed that technology is evolving in the business domain. As landing an IT auditor job is not easy, she decided to pursue a degree in Business Information Technology to first acquire the relevant knowledge. Upon attaining her degree, she spent the first 10 years of her work life in IT outsourcing roles to amass experience before switching to become an IT auditor which is her dream job.  

Transition from IT operations to an IT audit role

“I knew it was not going to be easy and I needed to be well-prepared for change, be it mentally, physically or psychologically. I was aware that I needed to gain prior knowledge and experience in auditing before I could live out my dream job. It was then that I chanced upon the Career  Conversion Programme (CCP) for Internal Audit - a programme developed for mid-career switchers, helping them undergo a skills conversion process to carve out a new career. That was when I decided to go for it!” 

She explained that the programme provided her classroom training where she acquired skillsets essential to a junior auditor. Yong Ghoon enjoyed the experiential learning through group discussions, role plays, and case studies. It allowed her to better understand and apply the concepts she learned. It also complemented the on-the-job training at RSM Singapore, where she was given opportunities to apply what she had learnt. Her colleagues also shared their auditing experiences and industry best practices with her.

How challenges were overcome 

“Identifying risks and internal controls related to the processes that I audited, asking the right questions, and communicating concisely with my clients,” explained Yong Ghoon. She shared that her team’s strong support, guidance and mentoring allowed her to experiment different approaches to her tasks. This sped up her learning process.

What she enjoys most about her role

Yong Ghoon enjoys the breadth of learning and gets a great sense of satisfaction upon the completion of every engagement.

 

Annex 4

Accountancy Job Redesign Pilot Programme 

SAC, WSG and ISCA embarked on a pilot Accountancy Job Redesign (JR) programme for Bookkeepers in April 2020 to support the job redesign and reskilling of Accounting and Bookkeeping roles in accounting practices. The pilot JR programme supported the adoption of accounting technology through process re-engineering, job redesign, change management and reskilling, as well as strengthened impacted employees’ digital literacy. Nine accounting practices came onboard the pilot programme and have achieved good outcomes, such as productivity savings and job value enhancements of the bookkeeping roles. Over 40 employees benefited from the pilot. 


Companies which participated in the Pilot Programme 

Mazars  
The Pilot JR programme has supported Mazars in furthering its digitalisation journey. Mazars implemented Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to further improve the accounting process together with its accounting software. Mazars has benefited from time savings of 45% to 70% through the automation of management report generation and internet banking payments. Mazars has also developed the RPA capabilities of its accounting team, which can now execute RPA scripts. The accounting team’s job roles were enhanced and enriched to focus on advisory activities requiring professional assessment. This included using tools such as data analytics to perform analysis and develop insights for their clients. 

Corpworld
With the support of the Pilot JR programme, Corpworld implemented Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate their Accounts Payable and generation of financial reports, which resulted in time savings of up to 60% for various tasks. Its bookkeepers have been able to carry out their work more effectively with RPA scripts, and their roles have been enhanced from data entry to data validation. Corpworld also upskilled its accounting team’s digital literacy, starting from basic digital literacy training such as RPA script testing, to more advanced RPA training. Corpworld’s goal is to maintain their own RPA scripts independently eventually.

 
 

Annex 5

In-house Finance & Accounting Corporate and Individual 
Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQ)


Background

The SAQ comprises an online self-assessment tool that companies and practitioners can use to measure their F&A sophistication at a company, functional, and individual level. The results can then be downloaded in a Report Card that will show a customised set of recommendations and links to resources that support F&A transformation. 

Two SAQs were developed for companies and F&A practitioners to assess their respective levels of F&A sophistication and identify actionable steps to progress to the next level of sophistication. 


Objectives

1.    The Individual SAQ is targeted at F&A professionals. It aims to highlight the impact to the F&A profession and F&A job roles by:

  • emphasising the skills and competencies required by F&A job roles as a result of the impact of F&A transformation to the profession;
  • recommending ways for F&A professionals to acquire the skills and competencies required in the future;
  • illustrating career journeys of how other F&A professionals have progressed in their F&A careers or successfully transitioned into new roles.

2.    The Corporate SAQ is targeted at F&A functional leaders of companies, and aims to drive the adoption of technology and digital transformation within organisations by:

  • providing visibility on leading practices and/or the future of finance;
  • recommending key digital solutions that will enable organisations to progress to the next level of sophistication;
  • illustrating success stories of how other organisations have successfully adopted technology and brought value to their business.


Benefits

1.    The Individual SAQ will help F&A professionals to:

  • understand the impact of F&A transformation on their current role, assess individual sophistication levels and understand the skills required for the future; 
  • discover potential adjacent and emerging roles they could explore; 
  • identify available training courses and initiatives to support their upskilling or reskilling journeys. 

2.    The Corporate SAQ will help corporate F&A leaders to understand areas of priority for F&A transformation, and identify relevant programmes and initiatives available to support their transformation journeys. 
 

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