Survey reveals Singapore's critical skills shortage in finance and accounting | ACCA Global
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More effort needed for talent retention, finds joint research by ACCA Singapore and Robert Half

The findings of new research jointly carried out by ACCA Singapore and recruitment specialist Robert Half has shown that Singapore is facing a skills shortage in finance and accounting, as demand for high-calibre talent intensifies amid the strengthening economy.

Entitled Singapore Talent and Skills in Finance & Accounting Survey 2010: Uncovering the Challenges, the research - which surveyed 1,600 finance professionals in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore - reveals that firms need to do more to attract and retain talent despite already having taken proactive steps to address the talent crunch.

A significant 81% of Singapore respondents with recruitment responsibilities believed there was an existing skills shortage in finance and accounting in the country. Almost half claimed that the situation was either major (29%) or chronic (11%), indicating the severity of the shortage. The problem is more acute in Singapore and Hong Kong, with more respondents reporting the shortage to be 'chronic' than in Australia and New Zealand.

'As the job market continues to tighten, employers in Singapore are facing a serious challenge in locating skilled people to undertake certain jobs, particularly those in key middle to back-end finance and accounting functions,' said Tim Hird, managing director of Robert Half Singapore.

'Adding to the problem is the increasing number of professionals leaving the accounting sector for opportunities in other industries. The brain drain is resulting from both pull and push factors, and companies need to seriously re-think their talent management strategies in order to attract and retain good people.

'Companies need to up the ante by offering more than just attractive pay. A well-rounded talent package that promotes career progression and a healthy work-life balance will offer an organisation the competitive edge.'

Among the findings of the research are:

  • 63% find the skills shortage in Singapore to be most prevalent in middle management
  • 42% of Singapore respondents said the shortage was most noticeable at senior management/director level
  • 65% believe management and leadership to be the main competency skills lacking among Singapore's finance professionals
  • 60% see a lack of development opportunities as a key cause of the talent crunch, while 52% place the blame on insufficient measures by employers to retain talent.

'Strong effective leadership is now more crucial than ever to meet the changing demands of accountants in business, while ensuring that a healthy talent pool is ready for future growth,' said Darryl Wee, head of ACCA Singapore.

'We can no longer keep doing the same things that worked in the past, expecting to have new results for the future. This is true for business, and even more true for talent retention.'