Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
Member | Established: 1963 | Member since 1977
The ISCA was established in 1963 and is recognized under the Singapore Accountancy Commission Act. ISCA’s responsibilities include: setting auditing standards to be applied in Singapore, setting ethical requirements to be observed by its members, administering the Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification, establishing CPD requirements for its members, and administering its investigative and disciplinary mechanism. ISCA also administers a voluntary quality assurance review mechanism that members are encouraged to participate in to ensure quality of work conducted. Membership with ISCA is mandatory to register as a public accountant and to practice as an auditor in Singapore. Membership is voluntary for all other professional accountants.
In addition to being a Member of IFAC, ISCA is also a full member of the ASEAN Federation of Accountants.
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
The responsibility for quality assurance (QA) reviews in Singapore rests with the Public Accountants Oversight Committee (PAOC), operating under the authority of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), and the ISCA.
In accordance with the Accountants Act, all public accountants and audit firms of public interest entities (PIEs) are subject to mandatory QA reviews under the PAOC’s Practice Monitoring Program (PMP). For inspections of audits of non-PIEs, the PAOC delegates review responsibilities to ISCA. The PMP is aligned with the requirements of SMO 1.
In addition to the PMP, ISCA has also established a Quality Assurance Review (QAR) program which is voluntary for its members. The QAR Program involves the review of the public accountant’s engagement files for compliance with the Singapore Standards on Auditing, adherence to SSQC 1, and adherence to Ethics Pronouncements as issued by ISCA. Upon completion of the QAR Programme, a QAR report which includes the findings and proposed action plans will be furnished to the public accountant. Furthermore, the ISCA cooperates with ACRA and shares information on the QA review process and findings which ultimately results in an annual report on findings.
ISCA fully supports the implementation of QA reviews in Singapore by holding joint forums with ACRA to discuss the common observations and findings from both the QAR and PMP along with other common financial reporting issues facing small practitioners. It will then conduct tailored courses for small practitioners to address commonalities noted during the PMP review and prepare technical guides and articles regarding SSQC1 (based upon ISQC1) for its members. Additionally, it offers continuing professional development (CPD) courses on topics related to quality control and regularly reviews its CPD programs to evaluate whether they continue to meet members’ needs.
Finally, ISCA developed and launched the inaugural Illustrative Quality Control Manual (IQCM) to help small and medium-sized practitioners in their implementation of SSQC 1. The policies and procedures contained in the IQCM are developed based on the requirements of SSQC 1.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
In Singapore, the Accountants Act and the Singapore Accountancy Commission Act establishes initial professional development (IPD) and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for professional accountants. The entities that are responsible for the implementation of IPD and CPD are the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), the Accountant and Regulatory Authority, and the ISCA.
ISCA administers the Singapore Chartered Accountants (CA) Qualification program. The institute works with the SAC to ensure that the practical requirements of the CA qualification are in line with the IES and ISCA reports that overall the program incorporates the 2015 revisions to the IES. The Singapore CA Qualification adopts a learning-outcome approach, taking into consideration the requirements of the revised IES (2, 3, and 4) and inputs from stakeholders within the accountancy industry. The practical experience and examination requirements (IES 5 and 6) were also updated in 2017 based on the revised IES, where candidates are required to demonstrate additional competences mapped to revised learning outcomes.
ISCA is also responsible for establishing CPD requirements for its members, which is input based. Eligible members are selected at random to participate in a CPD audit. The institute regularly offers seminars, courses and conferences for its members. As reported on its website, ISCA is promoting “Capability Development” to enhance the capability and capacity of firms and accounting and finance personnel in companies through technology, human capital development, business and management capabilities development and quality assurance.
Lastly, ISCA participates in the international standard-setting process to share its perspective by reviewing and responding to exposure drafts issued by the IAESB.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
Under the Accountants Act, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is responsible for approving auditing standards to be applied in Singapore. ACRA oversees the entire standard-setting process for auditing standards through its Public Accountants Oversight Committee (PAOC).
The International Standards on Auditing (ISA), as issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) are adopted as Singapore Standards on Auditing (SSA), with modifications to reflect national requirements where appropriate, by the ISCA’s Auditing and Assurance Standards Committee. SSA are issued following the review of the ISCA Council and the approval of the PAOC. As indicated on the ISCA website, the SSA are aligned with the 2016 ISA.
ISCA maintains an ongoing process to ensure the SSA are up-to-date and incorporate updates to the ISA. ISCA contributes to implementation of the standards by offering training workshops and seminars and the preparation and issuance of guidance to its members. Continuing professional development courses are offered on the standards and other related topics, and courses are reviewed periodically to ensure that they include the latest information. ISCA monitors the IAASB work program for changes and keeps members updated by publishing material on the ISCA’s Audit & Assurance section of the Knowledge Centre, in the monthly ISCA Journal, and in its weekly e-newsletter.
Lastly, the institute participates in international standard-setting by preparing and submitting comments to IAASB on Exposure Drafts and Consultation Papers to share its experiences and perspective.
ISCA is encouraged to provide updates on plans in the jurisdiction to adopt revisions to ISA 250.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
In Singapore, both the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and the ISCA are responsible for establishing ethical requirements for professional accountants.
Under the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Act, ACRA is responsible for setting ethical requirements for public accountants and its Code is aligned with the 2016 IESBA Code of Ethics.
The ISCA issues the ISCA Ethics Pronouncement (EP) 100 Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics (the ISCA Code) and members of the institute (both public accountants and non-public accountants) are required to adhere to the ISCA Code. This Code is developed in line with the 2016 IESBA Code of Ethics and encompasses any Singapore provisions to reflect the local legal and regulatory environment. ISCA reports that the Non-Compliance with Laws and Regulations (NOCLAR) pronouncement and the 2018 IESBA Code are being reviewed for adoption. It is expected that the NOCLAR will be effective January 2020. In August 2017, ISCA reported that it had issued changes to certain provisions in the ISCA Code related to Long Association of Personnel with an Audit or Assurance Client. These updates are effective December 15, 2018 onwards.
With the assistance of the ISCA Audit & Assurance and Ethics department, the ISCA Ethics Committee (EC) is responsible for the entire due process when updating the Code. If there are changes which involve sensitive or material matters impacting public accountants, the EC will consult ACRA’s PAOC Ethics Sub-Committee on the appropriate course of action. At the end of the process, the EC will recommend revisions to the ISCA Council for approval.
ISCA raises awareness on developments in ethics and the IESBA Code on its website, through its monthly journal, and by maintaining an extensive web portal on ethics for its members and the public. ISCA supports the implementation of ethics standards on an ongoing basis through training, seminars, guidance publications, and updates to its continuing professional development programs. It also actively participates in the international standard setting process by providing comments to the IESBA Exposure Drafts and other public consultations.
As part of contributing toward IFAC’s global adoption reporting outputs, ISCA is encouraged to adopt the recently effective 2018 International Code of Ethics.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
Under the Accounting Standards Act, the Accounting Standards Council and the Accountant-General of Singapore is responsible for setting public sector accounting standards. Statutory bodies in Singapore are required to apply Statutory Boards Financial Reporting Standards (SB-FRS), which are accrual-based, and are considered generally consistent with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Although the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards are the main guiding framework for SB-FRS, individual SB-FRS consider, and are modified on the basis of, the unique context of the different statutory bodies. There are currently no plans to adopt accrual-based IPSAS.
For its part, ISCA reports that it has been active in promoting the IPSAS to the Singapore government and informing them about the work of the IPSASB where relevant. In addition, ISCA is active in training public sector professionals by offering courses in matters related to the public sector and also offering other seminars and programs. ISCA has also published news related to the IPSAS and IPSASB and has previously arranged dialogues between the IPSASB and the government to discuss matters around the adoption of public sector standards. To support its members who are in the public sector, ISCA offers training seminars and programs, guidance, and CPD.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
The responsibility for the investigation and discipline (I&D) of public accountants in Singapore rests with the Public Accountants Oversight Committee (PAOC), operating under the authority of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, and the ISCA.
Under the Accountants Act, the PAOC is responsible for I&D procedures for public accountants, accounting corporations, accounting firms and accounting LLPs. Meanwhile, ISCA’s I&D function covers all its members which do include public and other professional accountants. ISCA reports that its I&D system is aligned with the requirements of SMO 6.
ISCA highlights the rules and regulations of the institute to its members and the public by posting information on its website related to initiating a complaint and the complaint process. In addition, disciplinary action and sanctions are also made publicly available.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
Under the Accounting Standards Act, the Accounting Standards Council (ASC) is responsible for prescribing accounting standards in Singapore, which comprise a framework of national standards fully converged with the IFRS for listed companies and national standards closely modeled after IFRS and have been modified to contain a small number of country specific requirements.
Although ISCA is not responsible for the setting of accounting standards, it has taken an active approach to support implementation by ensuring its members are kept up to date on developments on national and global accounting standards and that members have the necessary support to undertake their work. ISCA established the Financial Reporting and Technical Excellence (FR & TE) department, a part of its Corporate Reporting and Ethics (CoRE) division, to provide technical support on accounting matters for members. In addition, the department regularly communicates views and insights related to accounting issues to members and the wider accounting community in the jurisdiction. ISCA’s Financial Reporting Committee also frequently initiates and facilitates discussion on emerging accounting issues, issues guidance on local accounting matters, reviews and responds to exposure drafts as issued by the IASB and provides comment letters featuring the perspective from Singapore.
ISCA also supports its members by offering continuing professional development courses covering the most recent accounting standards and disseminates financial reporting standards information on the ISCA Centre for Financial Reporting website and other publications. Recognizing the importance of IFRS convergence in Singapore, ISCA collaborated with the ASC in developing a set of Q&As to assist directors and chief financial officers of Singapore listed companies in familiarizing themselves with full IFRS Convergence, the key principles underpinning IFRS 1 and some of the potential implications.
Furthermore, in collaboration with the Singapore Institute of Directors, ISCA through its Financial Reporting Committee's Core Sub-Committee, has developed a publication roadmap to provide guidance on how to navigate the changes that an IFRS Convergence exercise requires. It also highlights key considerations for entities converging to SG-IFRS.
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