A Whirlwind Tour of the Far East

Earlier this month I travelled to Singapore and Malaysia for what was one of my busiest trips so far. As such, this is a longer than usual blog post, but please do read on.

ICAEW and our wider profession have such a strong and ever-expanding base in South East Asia, and I am always impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of our members and partners in the region.

I attended our Annual Dinners in both Singapore and Malaysia, during which I met and spoke with many of our fantastic members. The ceremony with which they hold these events is unlike anything I have seen in any other part of the world. Our Malaysian dinner was attended by 490 people.

In meetings with representatives from PwC, Deloitte and others, I learnt of the enormous demand for ICAEW Chartered Accountants in the region. The message was that our CA’s are simply so much better than any others. We must embrace this challenge to ramp up our supply of students here.

In Kuala Lumpur, I spoke at both the Asia-Pacific and UNITAR conferences, on the subject of disruptive technologies. I focussed on the future impact of artificial intelligence upon our profession, and the new accounting technology, blockchain.

At the MIA Conference, I covered a broad array of subjects, including the challenges for Asia’s economies, bilateral trade with the UK, and the risks posed by Brexit.

I also spoke at CAPA’s 60th Anniversary Conference, on professional bodies’ focus on taxation. This was particularly timely, falling just days after the first Paradise Papers leak.

What made this trip particularly memorable was the level of engagement I had with young people.

 In Malaysia, I was privileged to speak at our “Celebrating Excellence” graduation ceremony and present our ACA certificates to 87 students. As always, it was so rewarding to see the hope, enthusiasm and potential of our next generation of ICAEW Chartered Accountants. Two of our Malaysian students who met as ACAs and graduated together, are now married – further evidence that our qualifications bring personal as well as professional benefit!.

I also presented 92 of our students with the Global Accounting Scholarship Award at Sunway College, one of our valuable tuition providers, and made further presentations at the Best Accounting Students Award.

Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore is undertaking a sustainability project to celebrate their 25th anniversary, so I visited to speak with their students about ICAEW’s commitments in this area. I was struck by their deep and mature appreciation of the need for long-term sustainability in our economies and our planet.

The students introduced me to some sustainability-themed games they had designed and produced themselves, and I in turn introduced them to our online Global Goals game.

This was a highly productive, rewarding and all-round successful trip. Our profession is held in high esteem in the region, and our members conduct themselves with a distinct sense of pride.

 But perhaps most importantly of all, I became the first ICAEW President to sample a durian, the world’s smelliest fruit!