Best Pathway to Become an Accountant in Malaysia through Studying the Accounting Degree at Top Universities
Increased Demand for Well Trained Accountants in Malaysia
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More accountants are needed for Malaysia to achieve Vision 2020 and be known as a high-income nation, said Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) president Johan Idris.
“For a country to have a mature capital market, it needs accountants because we provide confidence and assurance. We have a role to play to ensure that the capital markets are robust and forward-looking,”
To-date, the statutory body has just under 30,000 registered members. This is in comparison to Singapore, which has a similar number of members registered for a population of roughly five million.
“Australia, with a population of about 28 million, has about 100,000 members,” he said.
He added that the quality of education was important because it equated to the future supply chain of accountants in Malaysia. Accounting firms are constantly on the lookout to hire competent accounting graduates.
“Suitable candidates are hard to find. MIA can talk to the minister responsible for this, in terms of how we want to bring the accounting profession to the next level,” he said.
Johan highlighted that more importance should be placed on improving the level of competency in the English language.
“Accounting is about communicating financial statements and what you have done to the public at large.
“If you aren’t able to communicate well and if your supply of graduates doesn’t have a strong command of the language, then you would not be as strong as what you ought to be,” he said. He added that while Bahasa Malaysia unified the country, English was still the language of commerce.
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Pathway to Becoming a Professional Accountant in Malaysia
Presently, Malaysia has about 7.5 million Accountants. The country requires another 60,000 Accountants to fulfill 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).
After SPM, 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.
ACCA Exemptions for Accounting or Accounting & Finance Degrees in Malaysia
Generally, an Accounting degree from a private university in Malaysia 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.
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.
Should you have a relevant degree from an ACCA-accredited institution in Malaysia, you may be granted exemptions of up to all 9 Papers at the Fundamentals Level. No exemptions are awarded 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Where can Accounting and Finance graduates work in Malaysia?
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.
Good Command of English for Accountants 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.