Malaysia Business Outlook 2020

A joint report by ACCA and Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)

Image of the report cover

A total of 743 accounting and finance professionals of varying ages, organisations and roles responded to the second MIA-ACCA Business Outlook 2020 survey, including top-level finance professionals and public practice leaders who comprised 43% of the total respondents. This was very nearly double the number of respondents to the first survey (399 respondents), giving greater credibility and weight to the insights reported.

The survey was intentionally timed during the last two months of 2019 to gather insights emerging from companies’ annual strategy and budget planning processes, which are typically conducted during this period.

The following are the key findings of the report:

Positive Revenue and Profit Growth Trends.

Overall, respondents are highly positive on projected business performance for 2020, and they expect this growth momentum to be sustained over the medium term. About 4 out of 5 respondents (83%) respondents are forecasting increased revenue for 2020, of whom 48% expect growth of 5% or more. In terms of profit outlook for 2020, 86% of respondents expect it to be positive with about half of them anticipating profit growth of 5% or more.

Driven by Domestic Factors.

The survey indicated that domestic drivers – both positive and negative – have the most impact on Malaysian businesses. Malaysia’s economic growth and confidence in government policies to stimulate growth were seen as the top positive drivers, while rising cost of living and low wage growth, and uncertainties caused by government policies were seen as the top negative drivers going forward.

ASEAN – A Potential not to be Missed.

Only 41% of respondents have plans to invest in an ASEAN market over the next 3 years. This increases slightly to 52% if only respondents from public listed companies (PLCs) are taken into consideration.

Addressing Regulatory Changes and Compliance.

Regulatory changes and compliance concerns were repeatedly called out as the leading challenge for organisations, signalling a need for policy-makers to address the design, communication and implementation of policies going forward.

Leading Digital Transformation, Future-proofing Talent.

The survey findings provide invaluable insights on the level of digital and technology investment in Malaysia, even as the Government pushes harder for enterprise and corporate digital transformation. A quarter of respondents reported that their organisations are allocating more than 10% of their budget on technology spending and digital transformation over the next 3 years. Interestingly, despite these technology adoption plans, 70% of respondents have either no plans to reduce headcount or in fact plan to increase headcount over the next 3 years. Importantly, 60% of respondents have plans to evolve and improve existing employees’ digital skills and competencies. 

About the report.

The Business Outlook Report 2020 is jointly commissioned by the MIA (Malaysian Institute of Accountants) and ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) to provide insights into the collective viewpoints of accounting and finance professionals, with regards to the business outlook for Malaysia in 2020 and in the medium term. Second in a series, this study is part of a collaborative research initiative undertaken by both professional bodies to synergise resources and share critical findings on pertinent topics in today’s business landscape. MIA and ACCA trust that this report will be a useful resource that supports policy-makers and business leaders in developing forward-looking strategies to drive sustainable growth for nation building.