Singapore has cautiously reopened more sectors of its economy and has been living with the coronavirus successfully, relying on one of the world’s highest vaccination rates to keep hospitalisations low. This resilience and buoyancy will attract more companies to its shore. As these companies continue to face technological disruptions, pressures to expand overseas, rising costs and intensifying competition, they will need external advice to supplement their internal expertise.
We can expect economies to be constantly changing, and organisations focused on evolving and responding to the changing environment. In this scenario, we would expect the needs and priorities of organisations to be a moving target. This study’s findings serve to track these changes
as they impact the demand for professional accountancy services. The observation in this study that many professional services providers do not independently and systematically survey the landscape for new services means that many opportunities for development and growth may be missed. An independent demand tracker like this study would therefore be highly relevant to determine the types of professional accountancy services that providers should be supplying.
Our study tells us that the demand for professional accountancy services has in fact increased because of these challenges. 57% of survey respondents in Singapore had allocated budgets of more than US$100,000 for the previous, current, and next 2 financial years. A significant percentage were for non-regulated advisory services.
In response, professional services providers are diversifying from providing traditional services such as audit, tax and other largely regulated or compliance-based services, to mainly non-regulated services, such as IT Advisory and Risk Management and Governance (including Internal Audit). Sustainability and CSR Reporting is increasingly being seen as an emerging service offering that more firms could provide to corporates.
While the demand for largely regulated services remains stable, our study shows that the long-term demand for non-regulated services is rising. This demand is currently mainly fuelled by larger corporations. We believe SMEs would also greatly benefit by allocating larger budgets for discretionary advisory services that would assist them in scaling up faster.
“It is clear that organisations rely on professional accountancy services providers to see them through growth as well as challenging times. SMPs, as well as larger firms such as the Big Four firms, will need to constantly innovate their business models, develop their talent, and improve their product and service offerings to continue to remain relevant to their clients’ changing business needs. This report provides information on accountancy services that are most requested by corporates and may generate sustainable revenue streams due to their high demand – both current and anticipated in the longer run.”
Professional accountancy services providers that connect and plug into Singapore’s infrastructure as a global accountancy hub will be better positioned to take advantage of these opportunities as this demand is growing not only locally but regionally and globally.
“With Singapore gearing up to ease restrictions as the pandemic fades, I am confident that the opportunities for professional accountancy services providers, including SMPs, will rise as businesses seek to expand their capacity, increase headcount, and restore their services to pre-pandemic levels. This study will provide valuable insights as to what type of external advice are most needed by businesses. Businesses will also benefit from knowing what external advice are being requested by other businesses, to assess their own needs and budgets for professional accountancy services going forward.”
This study, another collaboration between ACCA and SAC (Singapore Accountancy Commission), will be useful to professional accountancy services providers, businesses, and policymakers.
It will assist professional accountancy service providers and consultants to review the range of services they provide to meet the needs of enterprises, helping the provider to steer the provision of services in the right direction. Potential clients will then be able to find providers that would fit their needs. They will also be able to reflect on their own needs for these services, using findings from the study to seek the appropriate external advice to boost growth and transform their businesses.
Policymakers can use the study to better understand the needs of both professional accountancy services providers and enterprises to help facilitate business transformation. On a wider perspective, they will need to reflect on the infrastructure required to boost the volume and diversity of professional accountancy services by reviewing the criteria, highlighted in this study, that makes a global accountancy hub successful and, where feasible and appropriate, implement them in Singapore.