THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration may affect several areas of our country’s economy but I am more interested in its effect on professional services such as the accountancy profession since that is where I belong to. We are just a few months away from 2015, when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) will be created, which is much similar to the European Union (EU) but will be very much at infancy stage.
Will there be a threat to the professional services with the creation of AEC? Many of the opinions I heard and read think it will have more positive effect than negative. They pointed out that even without the AEC, the demand for accountants in other countries, particularly in our Asean neighbors, is huge. We do not even have enough accountants in the country to fill up the positions in audit and finance and accounting (F&A) firms. Of all the professions in the country that are most ready, I heard these are the engineering and accountancy professions.
The Philippines’s Board of Accountancy is strictly monitoring the training and development of the accountancy profession. Even the F&A outsourcing industry in the Philippines is becoming a threat to India’s F&A industry, although we are still far from the No. 1 status of India as F&A provider for global clients.
With the Asean integration, we can work together with our neighbors to professionally compete with global giants such as China and India. This will be advantageous to the clients,as well as to the providers. Even so, the market is huge as to even affect that, which India and China now handle.
The educational preparation of accountancy graduates is now paying off. We have better quality of accountancy graduates because the screening does not end when a student starts as a freshman, but screening is made before entering every level in college. By the time that a particular batch graduates, there are only a handful who were able to make it.
A common example in the best schools of accountancy is that for 200 freshmen who started to take accountancy, only 30 to 40, or even less, make it to graduation. But this strict screening resulted to a higher passing percentage in the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Board Examination.
For those who were not able to make it to the higher years in accountancy, they proceeded to take up management accounting, which is also a good career path since these graduates are also needed by our outsourcing firms. Nowadays, the Philippine local non-voice outsourcing firms (whose services may include bookkeeping, internal audit, payroll preparation, functional accounting, etc.) prefer to hire management accountants since most of their CPA staff are being “pirated” by bigger firms.
That is why there is no reason to feel threatened when AEC will finally be established. There are more reasons to be optimistic. Even the shortage of accountants is a good problem. That means we can encourage more young people to prepare to take up accountancy.
In the coming Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) World Congress, one of the topics to be tackled is the Asean Integration. This will be exciting since financial executives will be coming from different parts of the globe. I always believe in a popular saying that “smart people learn from experience, but wise people learn from the experience of others.”
For those interested to attend the World Congress, call our Finex Secretariat (811-4052,811-4188) for reservations.
Wilma Miranda is the chairman of the Media Affairs—formerly Publications—Committee of Finex; managing partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs; treasurer of KPS Outsourcing Inc.and executive vice president of MICE Asia Inc. The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of these institutions.