Preparing for disruption in the accounting profession


Rapid advances in technology and the liberalisation of policies have shaped a world in which organisations have to constantly evolve in order to stay relevant in the future economy. The accounting industry, in particular, is facing sweeping disruptions. Digitalisation and shifting consumer trends demand a new approach to how the industry creates value for clients. There are three significant trends impacting the accounting profession now – evolving smart and digital technology; continued globalisation of reporting and disclosure standards; and new forms of regulation. But with these challenges come new opportunities.

With technological disruption, future accountants will need to hone their expertise through digital education to become relevant, future-ready professionals, said Professor Ng Siu Choon, Associate Provost (Students), SIT, at the SIT Symposium on Application of Technologies in Accounting Education.

Held in conjunction with the 7th ASEAN Accounting Education Workgroup (AAEW) meeting on 29 June at SIT@Dover, the symposium was attended by 150 participants from various ASEAN universities, as well as accounting professional bodies, industry practitioners and education publishers. SIT was the host of this year’s AAEW meeting.

Prof Ng Siu Choon delivering the welcome address at the SIT Symposium on Application of Technologies in Accounting Education.


Formed in 2015 with 14 member universities, the AAEW provides input to empower higher education accounting programmes across ASEAN countries. Its vision is to become an official forum for development of these programmes, and enhance their ability to produce graduates who can compete in the global accounting profession.

Dr Nanny Dewi Tanzil, President, AAEW, urged that, “The advent of information technology has fundamentally changed business processes around the world. This is an opportune time to discuss and share ideas of mutual interest, and to give the accounting profession relevance in this technological era as one ASEAN region.”

High tech, high touch, high trust

The symposium also saw speakers from GovTech, Fintech Academy and SIT share the impact of technological disruptions to the accounting industry.

Ms Jacqueline Poh, Founding Chief Executive, GovTech, spoke on how ASEAN and the accounting profession can embrace technology amidst the current wave of digital transformation. Asia is at the forefront of the 4th industrial revolution – Internet of Things. This will present huge opportunities and challenges to ASEAN, and the key is to drive greater digital connectivity with initiatives such as ASEAN smart city network, ASEAN single window and cross-ASEAN digital payment.

“The future of work will evolve around ‘high tech, high touch and high trust’. Accountants should position themselves in between high touch and high trust with an understanding of high tech, so as to stay relevant in this era of digital transformation,” commented Ms Poh.

Speakers at the symposium – Dr Koh Noi Kheng, CEO, FinTech Academy (left) and Asst Prof Michelle Zou, SIT.


Assistant Professor Michelle Zou, SIT, shared on how big data is creating a new twist to accounting. Increasingly, data culled from video, images, audio and even social media can be used to add value to the business, as well as for future accounting research, professional practice and educational curriculum.

Dr Koh Noi Kheng, CEO, FinTech Academy, gave an interesting talk on how financial technology (fintech) can be harnessed to automate mundane work. She observed that artificial intelligence (AI) and chat bots will dominate banking and transform many operational processes. With the changing landscape, it is important to embrace technology in accounting education, and prepare learners to be future-ready.

Hands-on learning through competition

In addition to the AAEW meeting and symposium, a student workshop on “Application of Technologies in Accounting Education” was held on 28 June, a first for AAEW. Forty-four students from seven ASEAN universities went through data analytics training and competed in a business simulation competition. Student were given an opportunity to play the role of a C-suite executive, make real-time business decisions, strategise and manage their own P&L statements.

The team from Ateneo de Naga University, Philippines emerged as champion. Team member Edward Lorenz Tejada, 21, said they were surprised to win, as they only learned to use the simulation software two weeks before the competition. “It was a fun and great experience. We gained a lot of knowledge, especially on data analytics, from the workshop.”

Winning team from Ateneo de Naga University, Philippines.


Yeo Joo Hoe, a second-year Accountancy student at SIT, said the two-day event provided much hands-on practice as well as cross-cultural exchange among the participants. “Accountancy graduates are increasingly expected to do high-level critical thinking and anticipating evolving needs, rather than mundane accounting work. The symposium and workshop made us more aware of the disruptions coming our way and how we can harness technologies to ride on these challenges.”

As we begin to fully understand the impact of digital automation and the speed at which it will affect accounting jobs, students and accountants will have two choices on how to react and respond. One would be to fearfully wonder if they chose the wrong profession. The second is then to recognise and seize the opportunities for change and improvement and embrace the impacts of digitalisation. At SIT, we prepare our students for the latter. Students will learn to shed the tedious for more fulfilling high skilled work that will bring value to their organisations and their stakeholders – as well as themselves.

The event concluded with the AAEW meeting at SIT@Dover.


Lifelong learning for a 'VUCA' world
Winning designs for the elderly