Preferred destination for finance, accounting services

  • MDeC working with ACCA to raise country’s profile
  • Outsourcing centers moving up the value chain

IN a sign of the deepening engagement with professional bodies in the finance and accounting (FA) space, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) will collaborate with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to raise the profile of Malaysia as the preferred destination for FA shared services and outsourcing centers.

MDeC chief operating officer Ng Wan Peng gave the keynote at the inaugural Asia Finance Shared Services and Outsourcing Summit 2012. The sharpened focus on FA within the shared services and outsourcing (SSO) space in Malaysia is a natural progression for MDeC as this vertical has shown itself to have strong legs, helped in no small part by the available talent in the sector and the strong supply of incoming talent.

The accounting profession continues to enjoy the social status of being the preferred career choice by parents. For instance, ACCA currently has 30,000 students sitting for its qualification examinations.

However this is not to say there is sufficient talent. The market is demanding more as it is looking for deeper skill sets with the many multinational FA outsourcing centers here moving up the value chain to offer higher-end work such as analytics and forecasting.

Ng says that last year, 27% of the jobs created within the overall SSO sector was created in the FA space, at 2,100 jobs.

“Average salaries here are also much higher,” she says, declining to share that figure however.

It is worth noting though that last year, MDeC revealed that the average monthly salary of an MSC Malaysia status company worker was around RM4,500.

While MDeC has been promoting the SSO sector for close to 10 years now, it used to be mainly about trying to match supply from universities to market demand.

The collaboration with ACCA points to a new phase in promoting FA as a preferred career choice in the SSO space and to deepen the skill sets of those coming into the sector. It also aims to encourage the continuing upgrading of skills for those already in the sector.

At the conference, it was emphasised that the transactional days of the FA sector are becoming history. Professionals need to equip themselves with a broader range of skills. Even the type of work being done at FA shared services centers is becoming deeper and more varied, which in turns offer choice career paths in the sector – a point made by Raj Chandrashekar, chief financial officer, group technology and operations, Standard Chartered Bank.

Preferred destination for finance, accounting servicesIndeed Ng says that a key challenge for MDeC is dispelling the perception that SSO is all about contact center jobs. With the sector expected to contribute an additional US$2.1 billion to the Gross National Income (GNI) and over 43,000 jobs by 2020, breaking this assumption is critical.

ACCA chief executive Helen Brand (seen here on the left exchanging the MoU document with Ng) notes that Malaysia is already one of the fastest rising destinations of choice for FA shared services and outsourcing.

"With business services being a key focus under Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Program, this will create a surge in demand for finance and accounting professionals in the country,” she says.

Which is why MDeC is working hard to ensure the demand and the quality are there. To this end, Ng points to the MyProCert program it introduced last year which is a more structured and holistic professional development program to support those who want to upgrade their skill sets and soft skills.

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