Route to become a Professional Chartered Accountant in Malaysia
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Are you interested to become a Professional Chartered Accountant in Malaysia? These financial professionals work in various accounting environments, including government, private companies, and private practice. Learn what’s the requirements for students after SPM or IGCSE O-Levels and the education pathway.
Becoming a chartered accountant is a career aspiration for many Malaysians. Furthermore, chartered accountants are in high demand even during economic downturns, are able to command high salaries and excellent benefits. Accountants are also needed in almost every industry sector.
The career of a chartered accountant is stable and their services will always be required, no matter the economic climate even in pandemics. The job of a chartered accountant is a great choice for students wanting a career that’s stable with high job demand and salary. Here’s how you can become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia after SPM or IGCSE O-Levels.
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Best Education Pathway to Become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia
Presently, Malaysia has about 7.5 million Accountants. The country requires another 60,000 Accountants to fulfil Vision 2020. All Accountants have to abide by a strict code of ethics and maintain high professional standards. All practising accountants must register with the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). Students after high school wanting to know about the pathway to become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia can read on or contact us for advise.
Becoming a Professional Chartered Accountant in Malaysia
To be a registered chartered accountant in Malaysia, you must be a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), which is the regulatory body for accountants in Malaysia. Members of ACCA, CIMA, CPA Australia, ICAA, ICAEW and MICPA are eligible for MIA membership.
Professional Recognition for Accountants in Malaysia
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK
Upon completion of the BA (Hons) Accounting & Finance degree, students are eligible for exemption from a maximum of 9 papers.
- Certified Practising Accountant (CPA), Australia
Upon completion of the BA (Hons) Accounting & Finance degree, students are exempted from the Foundation Level and they can proceed with the Professional pathway (6 subjects).
- Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)
Upon completion of the BA (Hons) Accounting & Finance with 3 years relevant working experience plus completion of Professional qualification (ACCA or CPA), students are eligible to apply for membership of the MIA.
Becoming a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia through ACCA Membership
ACCA affiliates, with a minimum of 3 years of relevant supervised practical experience (which may be pre-, during or post-examination / studies), are required to submit their Practical Experience Requirement (PER) to ACCA to demonstrate sufficient competency to merit membership.
The standard of competence required consists of a range of technical, management and personal skills which are essential for all aspiring members.
Upon approval, ACCA graduates may add the prestigious designatory initials ACCA to their names. They may also apply for membership to the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and use the designatory initials ‘Chartered Accountant (Malaysia)’.
Suggested accounting pathway for students in Malaysia with weak English
However, as we all know, the standard of English in Malaysia has dropped a lot. Some students thinking of going for accounting go into CAT and then the ACCA not realising that both are external papers and marked by the UK examiners.
Therefore, although these students may be capable in their knowledge but their weakness in the English language to write properly during the exams will lead them to fail these papers. Furthermore, the final 5 papers of the ACCA are not easy and if you attempt these papers while you are too young, can be challenging.
I would suggest that students go into an accounting degree programme first where the degree is exempted from the 9 papers of the ACCA. Upon graduation, you find a job and then take the final 5 papers of the ACCA to become a professional accountant.
After SPM or O-Levels, with 5 credits, students can go into the Foundation in Business for a year and then continue into the degree for 3 years. The other way is to go for the Diploma in Business or Diploma in Accounting for 2 years and then enter into the Degree in Year 2 to finish that in another 2 years. You will need at least 3 credits in your SPM to join the diploma.
After your degree, you can find a job and then take the final papers of the ACCA part time.
During your university studies, you have about 3-4 years to improve your English language skills. In choosing the university or college for the degree, you should go for a university where the students speak English mostly. Research by Star newspaper has shown that graduates with good command of the English language tend to get a higher salary (25%) and faster promotion.
A lot of students like the easy way out and choose colleges and universities that are cheap and lacking in quality and facilities thinking that as long as they just get the qualification, they are alright. They forget that if the quality of the university is low, the student’s quality will also be low when they graduate. You won’t have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the working world. Not being able to speak English well, you won’t be able to become a manager in a Multi National Company.
The management will not ask you to give a presentation if you cannot speak well and furthermore how are you going to be able to write a report? When you become an auditor, you will need to communicate with your client in English as well as your report.
Who should study accounting in Malaysia?
Students who like maths or accounting subjects. A strong interest in money and finances. Generally, the person is very organised, neat, and likes things to be in order. They are introverts, shy, quiet, and able to focus and concentrate to get work done well.
They are perfectionists and makes sure that anything done, is fully completed on time.
It is also normal for science stream students to go into accounting courses but you should be good in modern maths or add maths. It can be difficult at first because you are learning a lot of ideas, rules, and procedures that are specific to accounting and that are new to you.
Studying accounting is not like reading a novel or even like studying history, psychology, or economics. This is a technical subject, it is logical, and it requires reasoning.
Accounting students should try to be able to say, “I understand why they do that.” If you can understand “WHY” in accounting, there is very
little to memorize.
Even though you understand “why they do that” in
accounting, you must be able to do it yourself. Accounting is a practical “do-it-yourself” course.
Does the Accounting course require a lot of Math?
Not a lot of math is needed to study accounting. A working knowledge of arithmetic and a small amount of basic algebra will allow a student to successfully complete any introductory accounting courses, which are described below.
The reason for this is that although accounting information consists of numerical data, the math tools used to record the numerical data are very simple, really just addition and subtraction.
The reason that you need to know a little more math than this (see below) is that doing accounting requires first analyzing transactions before recording them. It is the initial analysis of transactions to determine correct amounts to record that requires the basic math skills that you see below. Only at very advanced professional levels would you need more math than this.
The subject of “accounting” consists of three key elements: accounting theory (underlying concepts), principles (rules) for how to apply the concepts, and the specific procedures that implement the rules. The type of introductory class that you take will determine which of these elements receives the most emphasis.
For example, bookkeeping classes emphasize procedures, particularly for recording and organizing financial data. Accounting principles classes or basic accounting classes usually provide a more balanced content that includes all three elements.
These classes provide a less specialized, broader understanding and the opportunity for some study of financial statements and the use of accounting information. Introductory financial accounting concentrates more on theory and principles and the preparation and use of financial statements.
What is the ACCA Accelerate Programme?
The programme allows undergraduate students the option to take Professional ACCA papers (maximum 5
ACCA papers) before or after graduating from their degree course.
Students who sign up for the ACCA’s ACCELERATE PROGRAMME would enjoy many benefits, amongst them being:
- Expedited pathway to becoming an ACCA member. Complete some or all of the ACCA papers before
- FREE initial registration fees. Your initial ACCA registration fee of GBP79 will be waived
- FREE annual subscription fees – two years including graduating year subscription fee of GBP170 will be waived
- DEFERRED exemption fees – You need to only pay the exemption fee two years after graduation.
- Membership in the exclusive Accelerate club that will provide access to events and promotions by ACCA.
- Access to employers in the form of: Employer Fair at ACCA events, Trips to employers, Talks and
Activities organised by employers.
- Self-improvement opportunities from workshops conducted by ACCA.
- Networking opportunities with students from various universities, employers and prominent
- Receive Student Accountant Direct alerts — you will receive e-alerts such as career advice, study tips and ACCA news straight into your inbox.
ACCA will support students of ACCELERATE accredited programmes with the following:
- Free initial registration fee
- Free annual subscription fee of up to two years after graduation (inclusive of graduation year)
- Deferred exemption fee payment (up to 24 months after graduation)
Study at the Best Universities in Malaysia for Accounting
In order to succeed in the competitive field of accounting, students must choose the best universities in Malaysia to study. The best university doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive. Students should choose the right university that fits them which has a good reputation for business programs, excellent facilities, top lecturers and an English-speaking student environment.
Upon completion of the accounting degree programmes, graduates will have 9 paper exemptions from the total of 15 ACCA papers. I would recommend students who are weak in the English language to go for the accounting degree course first and then only pursue the ACCA. The ACCA is exam-based and marked in the UK.
Top students may also choose to go for private universities offering the accounting degree programme with ACCA Accelerated Programme.
Under the ACCA Accelerate Programme, accounting degree students at top private universities in Malaysia would be able to start their ACCA studies at the Professional level (i.e. begin THE FINAL 5 PAPERS of ACCA) during their studies in beginning at Year 3 of their degree programme.
After completing Year 2 of the Degree course, students have a maximum exemption of nine papers in the Fundamental Level. Therefore, students need not wait till after their graduation to start on the Final 5 ACCA papers. Hence, this is a significant time and cost savings for students.
Exemptions from the ACCA for Degree in Accounting Graduates in Malaysia
Generally, an Accounting degree from a university can gain exemptions until the final 5 papers of the ACCA. A maximum of nine papers at the Fundamentals level of the ACCA Qualification can be awarded.
To preserve the integrity and rigour of the ACCA Qualification and to ensure that all students share a common experience, ACCA does not award any exemptions at the Professional level.
ACCA PROFESSIONAL LEVEL (Final 5 papers)
P1 Governance, Risk and Ethics
P2 Corporate Reporting
P3 Business Analysis
Options Module (any 2 papers)
P4 Advanced Financial Management
P5 Advanced Performance Management
P6 Advanced Taxation
P7 Advanced Audit & Assurance
Setting up a Public Practice in Malaysia
Public practice is governed by the Act, the Rules and the By-Laws (On Professional Ethics, Conduct and Practice) of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants.
Under the Act, the person must be a member of the Institute, and is prohibited from public practice through a body corporate save where this is allowed by other statutes for limited areas of public practice, namely tax.
A member, in most instances, is allowed to be engaged in public practice as a sole practitioner or in partnership only with another member(s) as the Act and By-Laws prohibits the sharing of profits with non-members. All firms in public practice are described as firms of chartered accountants (or licensed accountants, where applicable).
Only members registered as chartered accountants with valid practising certificate can describe and hold themselves out as chartered accountants in public practice and are able to set up firms providing public practice services.
Members in public practice may carry out public practice services such as accounting, audit, liquidation, tax and other related services. However, the practice of audit, liquidation and tax are licensed under other legislation.
Where can Accounting and Finance graduates work in Malaysia?
From the list below, you can see that the companies that accounting graduates would work at are Multi-National Companies (MNCs) and Government Linked Companies (GNC) therefore requiring a good command of the English language to communicate to the clients, customers, management and overseas partners.
Insurance – Prudential Assurance Malaysia, Sun Life Assurance, Hong Leong Assurance, Prudential BSN Takaful, Zurich Insurance Malaysia, AIA, Etiqa, ING, MCIS Zurich, AXA AFFIN Life, Manulife, Tokio Marine Life, Uni.Asia Life Assurance, Great Eastern, AM Life, AIG, Berjaya Sompo, MSIG, Kurnia, Lonpac, Danajamin, Pacific Insurance, Pacific & Orient Assurance, RHB Insurance, Tune Insurance, UniAsia General, Overseas Assurance Corporation, Progressive, QBE, MAA, etc
Financial & Investment Institutions – Bank Negara, Bursa Malaysia, Securities Commission Malaysia, AFFIN Investment, ECM Libra, HwangDBS, Hong Leong Investment, Kenanga Investment Bank, KAF Investment Bank, CIMB Investment Bank, AMInvestment Bank, Alliance Investment Bank, OSK Investment, MIDF Amanah Investment, Public Investment Bank, RHB Investment Bank, CIMB Investment, etc
Banks – Public, AmBank, Citibank, Hong Leong, HSBC, Maybank, RHB, CIMB, AFFIN,
Alliance, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase Bank Berhad, Mizuho Bank (Malaysia), OCBC, Standard Chartered, UOB, The Royal Bank of Scotland, The Bank of Nova Scotia, etc.
Islamic Banks -Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation, Alkhair International Islamic Bank, Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft, Affin Islamic Bank, Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation, Alliance Islamic Bank, AmIslamic Bank, Bank Islam Malaysia, Bank Muamalat Malaysia, CIMB Islamic Bank, HSBC
Amanah Malaysia, Hong Leong Islamic Bank, Kuwait Finance House, Maybank Islamic, OCBC Al-Amin Bank, Public Islamic Bank, RHB Islamic Bank, Standard Chartered Saadiq, etc
Accounting & Auditing firms – Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte,
KPMG, Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng, Moore Stephens AC, Steven Chin & Co, BDO, Grant Thornton, RSM, Mazars, Crowe Horwarth International, DFK International, Halim & Lee, Begbies Traynor, etc
Companies – Every company large or small needs at least one accountant therefore the jobs are plenty. Graduates can work in industries like property, FMCG, retail, fashion, construction, trading, hotel, travel, restaurants, Food & Beverage, SMEs, entertainment, automotive, education, and more.
Career Opportunities for Accountants in Malaysia
- Chartered Certified Accountants
- Chartered Management Accountant
- Chartered Public Finance Accountant
- Corporate Treasurer
- Internal Auditor
- Tax Advisor
- Tax Inspector
- Credit Manager
- Financial Analyst
- Financial Controller
- Investment Fund Manager
- Risk Management Manager
- Chief Financial Officer
- Tax Head/Director
- Shared Service Director
- Finance Director Treasury Head/Director
- SS Finance Head/Director
- FP&A Head/Director
- Audit Head/Director
- Operations Manager
- Finance Manager/Controller
- Tax Accountant/Manager
- Financial Controller
- Finance Business Partner
- Treasury Accountant/Manager
- RTR Team Lead/Manager
- Financial Accountant
- Internal Auditor/Manager
- PTP Team Lead/Manager
- Management Accountant
- Systems Accountant
- OTC Team Lead/Manager
- FP&A Analyst
- Technical Accountant