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All About Qualifications

Melissa Wu, Head of CA Education and Learning, ISCA

Meet some of the 100 minds shaping ISCA’s future. Each staff, with his/her unique skills and perspectives, contributes to the collective effort. This series shares insights into some of the day-to-day happenings at ISCA House. Read on and stay tuned for more.

“It has been quite a journey, witnessing the evolution and development of the Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification or SCAQ over the years. My name is Melissa, and my role in ISCA is to look after various technical aspects of the SCAQ.

As you may know, in 2010, as part of the CDAS recommendation1, the Singapore Accountancy Commission or SAC (now merged with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority or ACRA) was set up to manage the SCAQ (previously known as the Singapore Qualification Programme or SQP). The objective of having our own CA Qualification programme was to increase global recognition and international portability of the CA (Singapore) designation. Back then, ISCA’s role was primarily on the administration of the SCAQ, including running the workshops and examinations, and handling candidate administration. ISCA’s role has evolved alongside the programme. With the introduction of centralised examinations for the Foundation Programme and the removal of workshop components, ISCA then focused on the examination-setting and marking roles.

With the recent merging of SAC and ACRA into one entity in 2023, ISCA was tasked to assume a bigger responsibility regarding the SCAQ.

Together with the former SAC team, we knew that many aspects of the SCAQ required a rethink. On one occasion, Fann (CEO Fann Kor) told Suat Lay (Divisional Director of Engagement & Communications Soh Suat Lay) and I that all the decision-makers she had met knew too little about the SCAQ and the issues facing it. These people were too busy and did not have the patience to listen to a long story, so she asked us to put all the pointers in a one-pager, for her to use to engage our policymakers and decision-makers. Suat Lay and I scratched our heads and came up with this:

SCAQ problem statements

Along the way, the conversation evolved and many other such one-pagers were produced, to help key stakeholders understand what we were trying to implement.

Concurrently, we were told that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had set up a task force to address manpower challenges in the accountancy sector and recommend strategies to build a sustainable pipeline of high-quality talent for the accountancy profession in the face of industry challenges. One focus area for the Accountancy Workforce Review Committee (AWRC) was to look into enhancements for the SCAQ. We informed MOF/ACRA that we wanted to provide inputs, especially for the SCAQ.

We set up the SCAQ advisory panel comprising people from the industry, including representatives from the accountancy firms, commercial firms, local institutes of higher learning, as well as the government bodies. The panel met and discussed the various considerations and possible enhancements to the SCAQ. Subgroups were also formed to look into each component of the SCAQ (namely, learning and education, practical experience and regionalisation). After many rounds of discussion, coupled with stakeholder engagements and candidate and employer surveys, a final recommendation paper on the enhancements to the SCAQ was published and provided to the AWRC for its consideration.

Proposed enhancements to the SCAQ

From 1 January 2024, the Institute took over the day-to-day running of the SCAQ. In the short time since, several new initiatives have been introduced to the SCAQ, such as the Accelerated Pathway Programme, facilitated study sessions, and increased activities and events for our SCAQ candidates and stakeholders. We also set up the SCAQ Centre at ISCA House as a dedicated space for candidates.  

As the head of department, my role is to ensure that the SCAQ remains relevant in this constantly changing business environment and that our students are being taken care of across various aspects.

Looking ahead, for the SCAQ, I anticipate more collaborations with stakeholders, a stronger candidate community and increased reach of the SCAQ internationally. As for me, it’s to march forward on a journey where no two days are alike.”

If you've ever attended an ISCA event - whether it’s a virtual or in-person workshop or our signature ISCA Conference; or a sports activity like the ISCA Run, ISCA Charity Golf or Inter-Professional Games - Koh Wee Meng would have had a hand in ensuring the events' smooth execution from start to finish. Next week, he'll be telling you more about what he does behind the scenes.

1 The Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) undertook a comprehensive review of the Singapore accountancy sector and profession. The recommendations in the CDAS report (April 2010), titled Transforming Singapore Into A Leading Global Accountancy Hub For The Asia Pacific, were adopted in full by the government.

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