Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
No, I was not at Kingston Heath, the venue of the Australian Masters. I was in Melbourne on the Sunday when Tiger Woods won the trophy, but in a meeting on matters which were related to the accounting industry.
Although not playing well on the third day, Tiger did not disappoint the 25,000 odd crowd but displaying the performance which makes him the World number 1.
Everybody in Melbourne was talking about Tiger and nobody complaints about the A$3,000,000 appearance fee paid to Tiger to appear and play at the tournament.
It was reported that visitors and golf fanatics spent around A$20 million over the tournament period. In addition to that, the positive reporting regarding Tiger would carry Melbourne a long way.
Regarded as the sporting city of Australia, Melbourne hosts the Formula One racing, Melbourne Cup horse race and host major cricket and Australian football games at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It's beautiful skyline and the refreshing Yarra river position Melbourne as one of the must visit city in Australia. Not the mention its role as the centre of business along side Sydney.
Yes, I was in Melbourne when Tiger Woods won the Australian Master at Kingston Heath.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Somehow accountants in practice take regulation seriously. What more when regulation created opportunities for them to provide services be it audit, tax, insolvency or secretarial services. That is why when there are proposal to amend regulations, this group of professionals would normally pay serious attention to the possible changes although the change may occur a number of years down the road.
These were the issues that were discussed during a forum with the theme Effective Regulation; Sustainable Operations organised by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) today for the practitioners. I was invited to be the moderator. The panellists were Billy Kang, Council member of MIA, Jennifer Lopez, Head of ACCA Malaysia and Dr Cheah Foo Seong, Chief Technical Officer of Tricor.
While certain risks were identified with changes in the company laws, for example, opportunities are aplenty as well. Jennifer suggested that accountants consider training as one options to expand their firms. Changes in accounting standards, for example, means companies need to build capacity and ensure their staff are competent to handle new financial reporting standards.
Billy reminded auditors to educate and convince their clients to see value from audit. Otherwise, clients would not appreciate the value of audit and would be very hesitant to pay audit fees.
Dr. Cheah shared his experience in providing services to corporate clients. According to him, accountants need to be innovative and provide services beyond the ones which are triggered by regulation.
I had the opportunity to suggest accountants to shape their future without waiting for the laws to be amended. If accountants are working on their practices rather than in their practices, they would be able to spot opportunities faster or identify risks that are forthcoming. This requires a shift in mindset.
Eventually practising accountants have to create value out of the services provided to clients rather than relying on regulation to drive their practices forward. This is quite challenging for some as being in a closed profession, regulation has provided accountants with monopoly over certain services such as auditing.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
I had the honour of chairing the forum with the theme "Profit maximisation as the future way of doing business" A myth or reality?" organised by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
A resounding "no" said Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas, President of the Federation of Public Listed Companies. He argued that Malaysian corporations learnt their lessons from the 1997 Asian financial crisis and beyond profit, two other important "P" are people and planet. According to him, the essence of all the problems faced by corporates is greed.
Datuk Abdul Samad Alias, the Chairman of Bank Pembangunan Malaysia, added that stated that the last line of defence is the person himself. "What do you do when nobody is watching" he asked rhetorically. He believes that cases like Enron would happen again in Malaysia and other parts of the world due to greed.
The concept of Human Governance was later introduced by Dato' Aziuddin Ahmad, the Professor of Risk Management at the Universiti Putra Malaysia. He argued that we need to go back to basic of being human, accountanble to self, society and planet. However, different to the Western Society where beliefs have been left out, the Eastern societies adopts values and spirituality as part of the social system. "Business ethics is an oxymoron as we cannot impose values on legal person" he said.
At the opening of the forum, Abdul Rahim Hamid, the President of MIA said that MIA would be engaging the Ministry of Higher Education to incorporate the concept of Human Governance in the accounting curriculum at universities.
I added that the way forward is for each and every accountants to reflect what little changes they could initiate immediately to ensure values are appreciated and given emphasis. Rather than waiting and complaining, little baby steps would trigger larger change.
The event was also reported by the MIA here.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
This topic was explored during a roundtable discussion organised by the ACCA in Singapore yesterday. Chaired by its President, Brendan Murtagh, the roundtable gathered distinguished personalities across the board to share their views and thoughts. They include David Gereld, the President and CEO of Securities Investors Association Singapore, Yeoh Oon Jin, Head of Assurance Practice, Pricewaterhouse Singapore and Dr Ng Boon Beng, Finance Director, Oracle Malaysia. I was there representing the Asean Federation of Accountants.
The value of audit was lengthy discussed especially on the background of corporate failures, declining public confidence and the widening expectation gap. A number of other issues were explored such as the possible widening of the audit scope, communication and alternative assurance services for the small medium enterprise sector (SMEs).
The panellists generally agreed that audit has value. However, almost everybody supported the view that auditors have to communicate more effectively to the shareholders and stakeholders. This would require the present audit reporting framework to be revamped.
In the area of audit for small medium enterprises, it was agreed that establishing audit threshold is necessary to elevate the burden of compliance from the smaller SMEs. The level of threshold should be determined based on the level of economic development of the jurisdictions concerned.
The roundtable also concluded that the auditing profession should also consider opportunities in the wider audit function especially relating to the environment and sustainability. Accounting profession around the would should not let this opportunity to be seized by other professions and accountants are in the best position to take up the role.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
While the country wonders the ways to transform us into a high income economy, policy-makers appear to be stuck with the old ways of doing thing. The recently announced National Automotive Policy does not clearly position our automotive industry to be more competitive.
It appears that the main thrust is to provide the safe harbour to existing local players, give them some more breathing space to keep on doing what they are doing. Worse, the Rakyat, as we have always been, would be paying for the inefficiency of our automotive players. The so called policy to get old car inspected and possibly be scrapped in the future is no more than an attempt to create demand for locals cars which cannot stand at equal footing with the imported models. Now MITI is singing a different song that the policy is about ensuring road-worthiness of cars on our roads. Since when MITI is involved in the territory of the Transport Ministry?
One problem with Malaysia is that we are so good in self-glorification. So many millionaires or even billionaires were born out of contracts with the government or with the support of the government where even blind people could also achieve the same results, if they were given the opportunities. Replicating the time-tested approach which is not based on competitiveness would not get us that far.
As a society, we got caught in this glory that is not real. Even our soccer industry is no where compared to less lucky countries in this region. Why? The glory of the past (or could it be that others started later than us) remains in our head and we thought the future remains the same.
We really need to ditch the subsidy mentality in all aspects of our life. From getting degrees at universities, opportunities to work, business opportunities as well as in leading organisations, from the smallest to the largest. Unfortunately, those who benefited or are benefiting from the subsidy would not let go the sweets. It takes strong leadership to change this.
For you and me , we have to keep on sending the point that Malaysia need to progress on competitiveness, performance and justice. And this has to be reflected in whatever we do. Just stop for a while and think of the next few things that we could do together to move this country forward.