Singapore's aim of transforming into a global leading accountancy hub by 2020, as well as developing a robust business environment, hinges on the city-state's continued enhancement of high-quality audit and financial reporting standards. To achieve this, it is crucial for the profession to actively engage its stakeholders, said regulators and industry leaders at the recent Public Accountants Conference organised by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
Darryl Wee, head of ACCA Singapore, disclosed the key findings of its recent audit survey, commissioned by ACRA, entitled The Value of Audit: Views of the Audit Committee Chairmen (available from the Related documents box at the bottom of the page). These include:
- almost all chairmen believed that the most important criteria for the selection of the auditor was the engagement partner's expertise, knowledge of the company's industry and business and an informed audit team with global reach
- chairmen indicated that their auditors currently met all their key expectations and had no issues with the quality of audit
- chairmen want auditors to be independent and to 'speak their mind' and to highlight early and upfront the impact and changes of new Financial Reporting Standards on the financial statements
- chairmen are willing to pay reasonable audit fees for quality audits, and keeping fees low was not their principal objective.
'The assurance that the financial statements prepared by management were "true and fair" was the most highly valued benefit from the external audit,' said Wee. 'This confirms that the traditional audit model is not broken and continues to fulfil a critical role.'
These findings were highlighted further during a roundtable discussion, which featured Sha Ali Khan, ACCA's director of practice monitoring, who interviewed the chairmen, and was one of the three panellists.
'The external audit is regarded as extremely valuable by audit committee chairmen for the assurance it brings them on the company's accounting function and financial statements,' said Ali Khan. 'As a result, it assists them in discharging both their corporate governance and statutory responsibilities.'
The panel concluded that the accountancy profession faces many industry challenges post-financial crisis, and for Singapore to be a regional leader, it requires the involvement of all stakeholders to address some of the current key issues.