early this year, The Straits Times has been constantly writing about
the shortage of young accountants in the external auditing field.
As reported, the big four auditing firms are prepared to hire
non-accounting graduates and sponsor their accountancy degree course
in order to cope with the current shortage.
Hopefully, the economy remains buoyant for the next few years in
order for the scheme to become a win-win situation for all parties.
In times of recession, the accountants are also not spared. I
believe that some older accountants who were retrenched during the
last economy downturn are still facing difficulty in getting jobs.
For the fortunate ones, they faced age discrimination and settled
for lower remuneration packages.
Perhaps, the big four should tap into this pool of older
accountants in their alumni directories who were once their audit
trainees. Various working options can be creatively 'carved out' for
The role of
accountants is getting extremely challenging with the rapid changes
in accounting standards, codes of corporate governance and reporting
At an accounting seminar that I attended last November, one
speaker commented that there were instances where lawyers were roped
in to interpret some accounting standards that confounded the
professional accountants. Possibly, some new/revised accounting
standards are becoming more complex or they were not well-construed.
I once heard my audit manager made a remark to one accounting
graduate - 'You are not cut out for it'.
Hence, having an accountancy degree may not necessarily make one
a good external auditor.
I urge non-accounting graduates to think twice before taking the
plunge into the auditing/accounting arena as it can be very tough.
Such jobs are demanding and require much stamina and work commitment
to meet tight deadlines. 'The juice is not worth the squeeze. Follow
However, when my accounting subordinates sought my advice on
their career path, I always encourage them to go for external
auditing experience if they are ready for the tough job challenge.
Their effort will pay off when they assume the role of accountants
in the corporate world.
Questioning the effectiveness of external audit - Will it be
possible to conduct 'compliance/substantive test on integrity of key
personnel' as most of the recent scandals are tied to the integrity
of key personnel?
Ideally, accountants should live up to their responsibilities
ethically, truthfully and fairly. They should be discerning enough
to point out questionable matters and rectify mistakes immediately.
Such timely action would ensure that resources are appropriately
deployed in the best interests of all parties.
Thinking aloud, perhaps, the accountants and treasurers of
non-profit organisations (NPOs) should be bold enough to serve as
watchdogs in order to safeguard the interests of the NPOs, donors
and beneficiaries, even at the expense of losing one's job.
Lee Soh Hong (Miss)