This guidance is intended to provide an introduction and overview of the requirements to practice as an accountant in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. It does not cover the requirements of members based in Asia who wish to provide public accounting services into Australia or New Zealand.

Members are responsible for ensuring that they are aware of, and comply with, all regulators’ requirements in the countries in which they work.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) is the single statutory licensing body for accountants in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR). HKICPA is responsible for:

  • registering accountants and issuing HKICPA Practising Certificates in Hong Kong
  • regulating the professional conduct and standards for members
  • setting codes of ethics and standards of accounting and auditing
  • regulating the quality of entry to the profession through its qualification program and related courses
  • providing continuing education and other services to members
  • promoting the Hong Kong accountancy profession in Hong Kong and overseas.

HKICPA’s legal mandate to regulate the accounting environment in Hong Kong is based on:

  • Professional Accountants Ordinance – chapter 50
  • Professional Accountants By-Laws – chapter 50A
  • Companies Ordinance – chapter 622.

The latter ordinance outlines the types of business entities that can operate under a company structure and their financial reporting requirements.

Other relevant legislation includes:

  • Business Registration Ordinance – chapter 310
  • Limited Partnerships Ordinance – chapter 37
  • Partnership Ordinance – chapter 38.

The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries and the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong both recognise the CPA Australia designation for their entry requirements but the Securities and Futures Commission only recognises the HKICPA qualification.

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Malaysia

You can’t practise or hold yourself out as an accountant in Malaysia unless you are registered as a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). Members of CPA Australia who hold CPA status are eligible for admission to MIA without further requirement.

The accountancy profession in Malaysia is regulated by the Accountants Act 1967 (the Act) and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (Membership and Council) Rules 2001. The Act established The Malaysian Institute of Accountants to carry out the following functions:

  • to determine the qualifications of persons for admission as members
  • to provide for the training and education of persons practising or intending to practise in the accountancy profession
  • to regulate the practice of the accountancy profession
  • to promote the interests of the accountancy profession
  • to render assistance to members or their dependents with a view to protecting or promoting the welfare of members.

The Act also controls the use of the word ‘accountant’. No person, unless registered as a chartered accountant under the Act and has his principal or only place of residence within Malaysia, may practise as, hold himself out as, adopt, use or exhibit the terms ‘chartered accountant’, ‘auditor’, ‘tax consultant’, ‘tax adviser’ or any other like description.

Accountants in Malaysia are employed in banking, commerce, industries and educational institutions. Others may set up firms to provide professional services in the field of auditing, financial planning, tax and corporate services.

Members may describe themselves as an accountant in Malaysia and can use the designations Chartered Accountant – C.A.(M), Licensed Accountant – L.A.(M) or Associate Member – A.M.(M).

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Singapore

The Singapore Accounting Commission (SAC) oversees the strategic direction for, and promotes, facilitates and assists in, the growth and development of the accountancy sector.

Those who wish to qualify as accountants are required to be a university graduate, meet practical experience requirements, and to sit and pass the Singapore Qualification Program (SQP) and its examinations. The Singapore Chartered Accountant designation fulfils the qualification requirements of the Accountants Act 2004.

The professional body, Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) is appointed by SAC as the designated entity to administer the SQP. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) administers the Accountants Act with the assistance of the Public Accountants Oversight Committee.

The Committee has wide ranging powers and duties, including keeping and maintaining registers of public accountants, public accounting corporations, public accounting firms and public accounting limited liability partnerships. It also administers continuing professional education programs and assists ACRA with the codes of professional conduct and ethics for public accountants and the standards to be applied by public accountants when providing public accountancy services.

The CPA Australia designation is recognised as meeting the qualification requirement for registration as public accountant under the Accountants Act. There is a mutual recognition agreement between CPA Australia and Institute of ISCA that sees members of one body being recognised by the other.

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