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15 Recommendations to Strengthen Singapore as a Global Leader for Legal and Accounting Services

Posted in Press releases

1.            The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) Working Group on Legal and Accounting Services today released its recommendations for strengthening Singapore’s position as a global leader for legal and accounting services.  


Building Singapore as trusted global exchange for international commercial transactions


2.            To serve as a trusted global exchange for financing, brokering, structuring and dispute resolution for international commercial transactions, Singapore needs to establish a strong global market position for high value, specialised and cutting-edge legal and accounting services. Singapore is in a strong position to achieve this, and its operating context provides opportunities for it to do so.


3.            The Working Group identified nine high growth practice areas which can help drive the demand for Singapore’s legal and accounting services, and for which Singapore’s legal and accounting sectors can become globally recognised. They are Business Valuation, Corporations, Dispute Resolution, Finance, Intellectual Property, Internal Audit, Projects & Infrastructure, Restructuring, and Risk Managing & Corporate Governance.

 

4.            To help the legal and accounting sectors seize opportunities, the Working Group made 15 recommendations across four key thrusts: strengthening global market position, transforming the legal and accounting sectors, building thought leadership, and equipping legal and accounting professionals to be future-ready.


Working Group’s Recommendations


5.            To strengthen global market position, the Working Group’s recommendations include:

 

(i)            Integrating efforts across private, public as well as law and accounting industry associations to capture demand in identified high growth areas. Inter-agency programmes should be set up to coordinate strategies to capture growth opportunities, and strengthen and promote the identified high growth areas.

 

(ii)          Building capabilities and competencies to better respond to demand, by engaging clients on a regular basis to identify the new capabilities needed by law and accounting firms; and

 

(iii)         Encouraging law and accounting firms to work with companies from other sectors to internationalise by leveraging trade missions and business and networking platforms as well as bringing together law and accounting firms with clients for overseas projects.

 

6.            To transform the legal and accounting sectors, the Working Group’s recommendations include:

 

(i)            Strengthening technology adoption among small law and accounting firms by increasing awareness and adoption of technology to enhance productivity; and

 

(ii)           Enabling greater technology adoption by developing platforms for advanced search and analytics for law and accounting firms. This can be done by creating and curating open Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) for companies, start-ups and other interested parties to access national platforms to promote the development of innovative and intelligent solutions.

 

7.            To build thought leadership, the Working Group’s recommendations include:

 

(i)            Developing and strengthening Singapore standards and frameworks and promote their use internationally, by working with the Singapore Academy of Law to promote the use of Singapore law, and Singapore’s dispute resolution offerings as well as promoting and marketing certification frameworks such as Chartered Accountant of Singapore and Chartered Valuer and Appraiser; and

 

(ii)           Stimulating collaboration between industry and institutes of higher learning, by directing funding towards collaborative research projects between the two.

 

8.            To equip legal and accounting professionals to be future-ready, the Working Group’s recommendations include:

 

(i)            Developing professionals with multi-disciplinary skillsets and business orientation, a familiarity with technology and specialist expertise in identified high growth areas and sector-specific knowledge.


A full list of the Working Group’s recommendations is available here.

 

 

Government’s Response


9.            The Government has accepted the Working Group’s recommendations. The Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Finance, the Economic Development Board, and the Singapore Accountancy Commission will work with the relevant stakeholders to implement the recommendations. The Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Finance, the Economic Development Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore will also jointly set up a new inter-agency programme office, the Professional Services Programme Office, to develop and promote new growth areas that intersect the legal, accounting and financial services sectors (see details at Annex A). 

 

Background

 

10.         The Working Group on Legal and Accounting Services (Working Group) was established in February 2016 under the CFE to develop strategies to position Singapore’s legal and accounting services sectors well for the future.  

 

11.         The 23-member Working Group is co-chaired by Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State (SMS), Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance, and Mr Chaly Mah, Chairman of Singapore Accountancy Commission, and comprises members from the legal and accounting services sectors. The list of members can be found in Annex B.

 

12.         Five Working Group meetings and six Focus Group discussions were held. More than 120 professionals from law and accounting firms, law and accounting associations, companies, and institutes of higher learning were consulted. The Working Group drew on the findings from the Focus Group sessions and Working Group meetings in coming up with its recommendations.



ANNEX A

The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) Working Group on Legal and Accounting Services recommended that inter-agency programmes be set up to coordinate strategies to capture growth opportunities, strengthen, and promote the identified high growth areas.

 

Of the nine high growth areas identified, five, or more than half, straddle legal, accounting and/or financial services. For example, in restructuring for which Singapore seeks to be the Restructuring Hub of Asia, lawyers provide legal advice and make the necessary court applications to approve a restructuring plan, accountants act as financial advisors to the insolvent company to develop the restructuring plan, while financiers provide new money to meet operational needs and recapitalise the company.

 

Professionals from these sectors would need to work together to strengthen Singapore’s ability to capture opportunities. The ability of Singapore’s professionals to work together to serve businesses will create a unique value proposition and enhance Singapore’s overall position as a business hub.

 

As different government agencies oversee these professions, these government agencies also need to work together to support the professions in identifying and seizing opportunities. To this end, the Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Finance,  the Economic Development Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore will jointly set up a new inter-agency office, the Professional Services Programme Office, to develop and promote high growth areas which intersect legal, accounting, and financial services. Specifically, the office will:

 

a)    Uncover the inter-linkages between Singapore’s legal, accounting and financial services sectors and seek coherence of growth strategies;

 

b)    Capture demand in areas with potential for growth, such as Restructuring and Finance, which have linkages to legal, accounting and financial services; and

 

c)    Promote Singapore’s legal, accounting and financial services to increase exports of such services, through for example joint promotion trips and incentivising businesses to use Singapore professional services.

 

The office will be led by a Programme Director and comprises a team of officers from the various agencies. It will report to an Executive Committee comprising the Deputy Secretaries of the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance, the Managing Director of EDB and Deputy Managing Director of MAS.  

 

Besides supply-side interventions, the Professional Services Programme Office will also work on demand side drivers.  A key area of focus will be the demand that can be generated for Singapore’s legal and accounting services from MAS’ financial sector development strategies. Financial services is about 13% of GDP; legal and accounting services are about 0.5% of GDP each. Sustained albeit mature growth in financial services can help increase the size of the legal and accounting services sectors.

 

MinLaw and EDB currently already have a joint programme office to develop and promote the legal services sector. This has been a successful platform through which the two organisations work together to grow the sector. The new Professional Services Programme Office expands on this initiative to also include the accounting and financial services sectors.    



ANNEX B

 

Co-Chairs

      (i)         

Ms Indranee Rajah S.C.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance

    (ii)         

Mr Chaly Mah

Chairman, Singapore Accountancy Commission

 

Members [1]

   (iii)         

Mr Chang Zi Qian

Co-Founder, Intelllex Holdings Pte Ltd

   (iv)         

Ms Chia Yong Yong

Consultant, Foo Kwok LLC

    (v)         

Mr Chng Lay Chew

Chief Financial Officer, Singapore Exchange Limited

   (vi)         

Ms Rachel Eng

Deputy Chairman, WongPartnership LLP

  (vii)         

Mr Han Kok Juan

Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Law

(viii)         

Mr Peter Hoad

Singapore Office Leader, Arup Singapore Pte Ltd

   (ix)         

Ms Vanita Jegathesan

Corporate Counsel, Chevron International Pte Ltd

    (x)         

Mr Evan Law[2]

Chief Executive, Singapore Accountancy Commission

   (xi)         

Mr Lee Wai Fai

Group Chief Financial Officer, United Overseas Bank

  (xii)         

Mr Loh Uantchern[3]

Chief Executive, Singapore Accountancy Commission

(xiii)         

Mr Irving Low

Head of Risk Consulting / Head of Markets, KPMG Services Pte Ltd

(xiv)         

Ms Pek Siok Lan

Senior Managing Director, General Counsel, Temasek International

  (xv)         

Mr Mohamad Saiful Saroni

Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

(xvi)         

Mr Paul Seah

Partner, Tan Kok Quan Partnership

(xvii)         

Mr Daren Shiau

Partner, Co-Head of Corporate & Commercial Department, Allen & Gledhill LLP

(xviii)         

Mr Sarjit Singh

Executive Chairman, Ardent Associates LLP

(xix)         

Assoc Prof (Adj) Eric Teo

Adjunct Associate Professor, Division of Accounting, Nanyang Business School

 

 

  (xx)         

Mr Thio Shen Yi, S.C[4]

President, Law Society of Singapore

(xxi)         

Ms Serene Wee

Chief Executive, Singapore Academy of Law

(xxii)         

Mr Kelvin Wong

Assistant Managing Director (Cluster Group Enterprise), Economic Development Board

(xxiii)         

Mr Yee Ping Yi

Deputy Secretary (Policy), Ministry of Finance


[1] The members are listed in alphabetical order of their surnames.

[2] From 1 July 2016.

[3] Until 30 June 2016.

[4] Until 31 December 2016. 

Last updated on 07 Apr 2017