As a kid, I used to envision working on a ship instead of being an accountant, but I’ve since discovered that even managing a ship takes a lot of financial management into account. I am happy to say that this route of pursuing a career in accounting was a good choice as I am now learning how businesses operate both in my home country and on the international playing field.
The accounting profession has also been the most rewarding. I chose accounting because of the doors this career opens for me, opportunities for career advancement, geographic mobility, and the constant, if not growing, demand for highly qualified accountants. All businesses need competent accounting professionals who are familiar with international standard practices and familiar with local market requirements.
Having accumulated four years in this profession and being Certified Public Accountant, Malaysia, or CPA (M), as well as Chartered Accountant, Australia and New Zealand, or CA (ANZ), I have taken a step back to observe the changes to which the world is facing and how it has shaped the skill set needed to be a future-proof accountant.
Here are three tips to get you started in your accounting career:
1. Be GLOCAL
The terminology of being glocal-ready has become quite relevant in recent days. Glocal, by definition, “reflects or is characterized by both local and global considerations”. In a sense, it’s about thinking globally, acting locally. And it has never been more important than now.
Adopting a glocal mindset and capabilities in accounting means being able to combine the expertise of international standards with the requirements of local countries.
As a glocal accountant, one can understand first-hand how inflation, product cost, exchange rates, and other factors play a role in impacting business performance and sustainability in local landscapes. and international.
It also gives you a broader perspective that goes a long way when it comes to delivering effective business solutions in the local market. Indeed, you will be able to adopt global solutions that can be useful to local businesses.
Indeed, many Malaysian companies are planning global expansion or have global offices that need accounting experts who can guide them on local and international standards, laws and other regulatory requirements.
As of April 30, 2022, 11,123 Malaysian companies were registered with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE). These figures indicate local companies that want to actively participate in the international market.
A qualification that combines global and local context is essential. The MICPA x CA ANZ qualification program I graduated from was designed to meet international requirements as well as local country requirements and context. As a result, I was confident when applying for jobs due to the educational advantage I had over my accounting peers.
I experienced a smooth professional transition when I transferred from Malaysia to Deloitte New Zealand. The training I received prepared me well for an international career. Even better, I knew what I was doing and that things made sense, just like they did when I was in Malaysia. It’s safe to say that my preparation at home to be trained as a glocal accountant has helped me to be a true international accounting professional.
2. Always stay up to date with the latest developments
The last three years have been tiring as we have been hit by the pandemic, inflation and now possibly a recession. As a professional auditor and accountant, I review the accounting records of many organizations and have seen how various companies apply a wide range of strategies that help mitigate these economic threats.
Businesses are now turning to the finance department to ensure they are following and complying with the latest accounting standards in the face of the abrupt changes in the economy in recent years.
How one formulates a winning strategy will depend on their experiences as well as training. I remember a situation where the Malaysian Financial Reporting Standard (MFRS) 16 was brand new at the time. I was working in Malaysia and had no prior knowledge of it. Fortunately, the MICPA x CA ANZ qualification program I was enrolled in taught me which proved to be very useful and effective on the job as I could apply it immediately.
As a result of my training, I often find myself combining what I know of Malaysian accounting practices and international standards, as a comparative view sometimes helps improve my work by giving me the opportunity to see things from different angles.
3. Master technology and data in your accounting career
Due to global geopolitical and economic factors, companies have also invested in many technologies as a method of reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency. Accounting is no longer the age-old method of flipping through sheets of invoices.
Everything is digitized and we need to make sure we are savvy enough to leverage the multiple platforms available for record keeping, tracking and other purposes.
For me, accounting is about really getting to know a business from the inside and helping it grow. Accounting (which is taught in schools) is important, but it is only the tip of the iceberg, especially with the technological advancements that are making their way into this profession.
Today, analyzes derived from financial data are crucial for decision makers. However, for a person to understand how to analyze financial data, one must have proper training.
Professional qualifications such as the MICPA x CA ANZ Qualification Program which helps provide local and global knowledge can give candidates the best of both worlds. As I walked through the program, I was able to explore how international and local businesses were applying different approaches to harness the benefits of technology and financial data analytics.
This includes identifying patterns and understanding business costs to reduce in order to make room for investments that would increase business efficiency and support long-term business sustainability. Here, having the right accounting qualifications will allow future graduates to understand global practices that can be implemented locally.
The accounting industry has undergone rapid transformation and it can be difficult to keep pace. To be a qualified accounting professional moving forward with today’s changes, you will need a clearer focus on industry updates, skill sets, technology tools, qualifications and understanding to sustain your accounting career.
The MICPA x CA ANZ Qualification Program is an opportunity to be that future-proof accountant, as it provides a transformative learning experience carefully curated to meet current and relevant industry needs.
About the Author
Izzat Aliyas is an alumnus of the MICPA x CA ANZ qualifying program. He currently works as an Audit Assistant Manager with Deloitte (Christchurch) New Zealand, specializing in auditing a wide range of companies in the retail, oil and gas and plantation sectors.
He holds the designations of Chartered Accountant, Australia and New Zealand, or CA, and Chartered Accountant, Malaysia, or CPA(M), due to his membership in both MICPA and CA ANZ (ANZ) .