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Making the profession more attractive, diverse, and inclusive has become an ambition for professional accountancy organizations around the globe. With PAOs in many jurisdictions facing talent pipeline issues, opening the profession up with new pathways and educational models is one solution that ensures organizations have the accounting and finance talent they need to function.

One organization that is creating a new model for broadening the talent pipeline is the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA). The ISCA offers 7 different pathways for becoming a member:

  • Chartered Accountant Pathway
  • Professional Business Accountant Pathway
  • Associate Pathway
  • Affiliate Pathway
  • Specialisation Pathway
  • Experienced Professional Pathway
  • Student Member Pathway

Their newest pathway is the Experienced Professional Pathway, which allows membership to ISCA for professionals with experience in accounting and finance-related fields. According to ISCA, this pathway was created because, “Some of these experienced professionals may not belong to a professional body currently but are highly skilled and competent in accounting and finance, and they would benefit from being associated with ISCA in terms of networking with other ISCA members, access to ISCA’s technical and business updates and resources and CPE programmes.”

To qualify, applicants to the Experienced Professional Pathway should have a minimum of 5 years managerial experience in accounting and finance-related roles. Such roles as Business Analyst, Corporate Finance Manager, Investment Manager, Risk Manager, Sustainability and Climate Change Specialists, or even IT Managers may qualify for membership. Those interested in membership are asked to submit an application online. Benefits for new members include networking opportunities and a series of events aimed at connecting business owners, finance leaders, and members across diverse industries and sectors. These events facilitate networking and the exchange of ideas and experiences.

The ISCA hasn't aggressively promoted this pathway, opting for a more organic growth approach, targeting individuals who could benefit from joining. ISCA is focusing on a systematic, non-rushed approach to growth, curating events and carefully selecting participants to foster stronger, more meaningful connections.

Another pathway updated by ISCA is the Student Member Pathway, the eligibility for which was recently expanded. Initially, only university undergraduates were eligible for student membership, but the ISCA has expanded eligibility in 2023 to include younger individuals, starting from ages 13 or 14. The goal is to build interest in and a pipeline for the accountancy profession from a young age. Engaging with younger individuals  is part of an effort to create awareness about accountancy before they choose other career paths. Currently, most student members are still from tertiary education, predominantly degree or diploma students. Younger teenagers are currently a minority in the membership, but the ISCA is putting in more resources to engage the school community and grow its Student Member Pathway.

Professional accountancy organizations like ISCA are leading the way for the accountancy profession by introducing diverse new membership pathways. Such forward-thinking initiatives not only address talent shortages but also modernize how the industry is perceived and the value it can deliver. By offering a range of entry routes, from the Experienced Professional Pathway to early engagement with teens, ISCA highlights the profession's adaptability and evolving nature. This strategic shift could set a trend for PAOs worldwide, emphasizing the importance of varied talent sources and experiences. The industry's refreshed approach underscores its commitment to staying relevant and prepared for the future.

In recent months, IFAC has held several discussions with PAO leaders and accountancy education professionals about reaching out to students who have not yet decided what to study.  The hope is to seed an interest in accounting that leads to students choosing an accounting degree or career after their secondary education. Initiatives like the ISCA’s may be a critical step in introducing young people to the rewards of a career in accountancy, and experienced professionals a value proposition for being a member of the profession.

Another case study on expanding pathways into membership is available: Apprenticeship Pathways: An Opportunity to Widen Access into the Accountancy Profession.

Soh Suat Lay
Soh Suat Lay

Divisional Director, Member Experience and Communication

Suat Lay is leading ISCA’s member services functions, marketing and communication initiatives, and the growth and development of CA Singapore members via the Singapore CA Qualification. She is a Chartered Accountant of Singapore.

Tanya Musumhi

Tanya Musumhi is an IFAC regional manager, responsible for the Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe regions. In this role, she helps IFAC’s member organizations and other professional accountancy organizations adopt and implement international standards and best practices and ensure the relevance and resiliance of the accountancy profession. Prior to her time at IFAC, Tanya was a grant capacity senior program manager at World Vision US.  

Tanya holds an MA in International Law and Economics from the World Trade Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland (2009) and an MA in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (2007).  

Annie Brinich

Annie Brinich is a communications manager at the International Federation of Accountants. She manages and edits IFAC's Knowledge Gateway.