SMPs in Singapore to receive grant
Small accounting firms in Singapore will receive a S$2.4 million (HK$13.8 million) boost to go digital, reported The Straits Times this month. The move is part of a new programme that aims to create 2,000 new accounting jobs in the next two years and help firms adopt new technologies and expand abroad. According to a census conducted by the Singapore Accountancy Commission, Big Four firms spent the most on technology while small- to-medium-sized firms spent the least mainly due to cost and a lack of knowledge, resulting in lower productivity. Lee Fook Chiew, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, said efforts to future-proof the accountancy profession are “especially vital in a time of rapid transformation and evolution of new skills.”
Record number of SFC licensees in Hong Kong
Financial firms licensed by the Securities and Futures Com- mission (SFC) rose to a record number at the end of March, according to data by the Hong Kong regulator. “The total number of [individual] licensees in Hong Kong reached a historical high of 44,238, up 3 percent from the previous year, while the number of licensed corporations surpassed the 2,700 mark,” said the SFC. Fund managers, private equity investors, brokers and other financial firms have been drawn to Asia’s third-largest financial market as a number of companies are expected to launch their initial public offerings in Hong Kong this year, reported the media. The surge has improved the finances of the SFC, which collects fees from every transac- tion in the market. The watchdog reported a fiscal surplus of HK$242.86 million for the year ended in March.
PwC U.K. to scrap all-male job shortlists
In a bid to improve the percentage of female executives in the office, PwC in the United Kingdom announced it will ban all-male job shortlists, starting this month. The pay gap between men and women is 44 percent at PwC U.K., the highest of the Big Four firms, according to the firm’s report on gender pay gap released in March. Laura Hinton, Chief People Officer at PwC U.K., was quoted as saying, “We are setting ourselves a 50/50 target for all direct recruitment activity. This is part of our wider action plan to promote diversity and inclusion in all forms, including gender, ethnicity and social mobility.”
Credibility of U.K. accounting watchdog to be reviewed
The United Kingdom’s business ministry formally launched a review of the country’s accounting regulator this month. “The FRC’s work is critical to financial markets, the economy and public confidence. Trust, quality and credibility are the questions at the heart of today’s consultation,” said John Kingman, who is chairing the review of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). The FRC has long been scrutinized by lawmakers for being too slow in probing accounting scandals. The review will consider whether the FRC is using its existing powers sufficiently to levy fines and ban accountants involved in malpractice. It will also look at whether legislation is needed to give the watchdog stronger powers after the FRC said it cannot pursue company officials who are not members of professional accounting bodies, reported Reuters.