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October 30, 2022

Boosting the capabilities of Small and Medium Audit Firms

By Zoya Malik

The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) and the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) announced a slew of initiatives to support the audit sector’s development at the ISCA Practitioners Conference for audit professionals.

The initiatives, supported by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), provide small and medium audit practices (SMPs) with much needed guidance, support and resources to build capabilities and enhance their competitiveness.

The newly launched SMP Centre of Excellence will provide SMPs with a one-stop platform for initiatives, services and resources to suit their needs. To help audit firms comply with new quality management standards, ISCA will certify firms that pass ISCA’s firm-level quality management review. Meanwhile, SAC will set aside $2 million to support the SMPs in their digitalisation efforts under the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).

ISCA President Mr. Teo Ser Luck said, “We are delighted to collaborate with SAC to support the SMPs through these initiatives. SMPs make up 98% of the total number of audit firms in Singapore. By supporting SMPs in the key areas of digitalisation, quality management, practice management, and talent management, we aim to empower them to accelerate their growth in a dynamic business environment.”  

SMP Centre of Excellence

ISCA has launched the SMP Centre of Excellence, a one-stop online hub to provide a holistic suite of initiatives, services and resources catered to the varying needs of audit practices. The centre is envisioned to be the go-to platform for SMPs when they need support and resources.

SMPs will be able to tap on the resources available via the SMP Centre of Excellence to:

  1. i) Raise audit quality
  2. • SMPs will be able to access technical publications and resources such as the ISCA Quality Management toolkit and ISCA Audit Manuals;
  3. • Quality Assurance Review Programme to improve the quality of their practices and audit engagements;
  1. ii) Strengthen digital capabilities of firms through curated solutions, funding schemes and provision of advisory support
  2. • SMPs will be able to assess their digital readiness via a self-assessment test, obtain information on sector-specific solutions and funding schemes to support digitalisation efforts;
  1. iii) Upskill audit professionals via certification programmes and training courses such as:
  2. • ISCA’s SMP Onboarding Programme to support audit firms in training their new hires. Topics in this programme include the audit environment in Singapore, ISCA’s audit methodology and its applications, and professional ethics. The programme is conducted through bite-sized e-learning modules, which enables busy auditors to build skills with ease and flexibility. To support the SMPs, the packaged programme is priced 80 per cent lower than the usual rates for the individual courses;
  3. • Access to tech talks, webinars and other trainings relevant for SMPs
  1. iv) Support audit firms in business management and expansion, with initiatives to help SMPs enhance their offerings and expand overseas
  2. • SMPs will be able to access practice-management related resources and tools such as Job Redesign toolkit and internationalisation schemes and register for business networking events and overseas business missions to build connections.

Voluntary Compliance Programme

ISCA will be rolling out the Voluntary Compliance Programme to help audit firms comply with the new quality management standards which take effect on 15 December 2022. Under this programme, ISCA will certify firms that pass ISCA’s firm-level quality management review.

The certification provides firms with a competitive advantage in building trust with clients and stakeholders. ACRA will take into account the audit firms’ certification status when conducting risk profiling for Quality Control Inspections of audit firms, which will be introduced following the passing of the Accountants (Amendment) Bill in October 2022.

Funding Scheme to Support SMPs in Adopting Digital solutions

SAC has set aside $2 million to support the SMPs in their digitalisation efforts under the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG). The PSG aims to raise the level of baseline digital adoption among SMPs to 70% by 2025.

ISCA and SAC will curate sector-specific digital solutions and promote understanding of the tools through tech talks and by providing advisory help. The areas that are eligible for funding include internal audit, external audit, tax, practice management, corporate secretariat, data analytics and business advisory. Firms can apply for the funding via PSG from the second quarter of 2023.

 “SAC recognises that Small and Medium-sized Practices (SMPs) are often challenged with limited resources to acquire new skills and technology to scale up. Leveraging more on technology will enable them to offer greater value-added services and improve productivity. We are happy to support SMPs on their digitalisation journey. Digital transformation and the development of accountancy talent will provide firms with the competitive edge needed to thrive in today’s Digital Economy,” said Mr Evan Law, Chief Executive, Singapore Accountancy Commission.

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