How to Become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia through Studying Accounting at the Best Private Universities in Malaysia
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Accounting is a rewarding career with plenty of growth opportunities in Malaysia. Accountants enjoy solid pay, ample advancement opportunities and a stable career. 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. In this article, we would like to recommend the best education pathway to students on how to become a chartered accountant in Malaysia.
Students who are weak in English should go for an accounting degree at a top private university in Malaysia 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 chartered accountant.
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Study at the Best Private Universities in Malaysia for Top Accounting Degree Programmes with ACCA Exemptions
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem: between 2010 and 2013, the number of unemployed graduates grew from 42,954 to 52,282. And the Department of Statistics, Malaysia has more bad news: From their 2014 survey, 399,500 people were unemployed in Malaysia. 60% of them were youth.
Lack of self-initiative and soft skills are among the main factors leading to unemployability among fresh graduates in the country. Soft skills basically are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
TalentCorp Malaysia chief executive officer Johan Mahmood Merican said some of the fresh graduates tended to take the job application process lightly, without taking the initiative to market themselves to the future employer.
Employers say many fresh graduates who have grown up in the tech era are less prepared for the human element of a new career. As a result, students who can hold a professional conversation, offer a strong handshake, and make eye contact gain an edge in hiring and promotions. For that reason, make it a priority to polish these much sought after skills.
Hard skills are the tangible and technical skills easily demonstrated by a candidate’s qualifications and specific professional experiences, soft skills is a term used by employers to refer to the more intangible and non-technical abilities that are sought from candidates.
Soft skills are sometimes referred to as transferable skills or professional skills. As this term implies, these are skills that are less specialised, less rooted in specific vocations, and more aligned with the general disposition and personality of a candidate. Examples of important soft skills are communication, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, time management, flexibility, responsibility and a strong command of the English language.
As an undergraduate student, you will learn these skills at a university that has a vibrant student environment with a high number of international students and extra-curricular activities for you to participate in. A solid internship programme at the university will also help to develop your soft skills.
Soft skills relate to your attitudes and your intuitions. As soft skills are tangible compared to your qualifications and more personality-driven, it is important to consider what your soft skills are and how you might show evidence of them before you apply for a job. This is particularly true of the recruitment process for graduate programmes, where transferable skills and potential often have equal importance to professional experience. If everyone applying for a particular job, all the applicants possess the same degree qualification, what would make you stand out from them? Being able to demonstrate your soft skills equates to demonstrating great potential to succeed and progress in the career of your choice.
In order to succeed in the competitive field of accounting, students must choose the best universities in Malaysia to study. Students must start as early as possible to develop their soft skills in order to be successful in their accounting career.
Students should choose the right university that fits them which has a good reputation for business programs, excellent facilities, internships, top lecturers, extra-curricular activities, international environment 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.
Through its Qualifying Examination, MIA provides an avenue for membership admission for those who do not currently possess a qualification recognised under Part I and Part II of the First Schedule to the Malaysian Accountants Act 1967.
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
Becoming a 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.
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)’.
Best Education Pathway to Become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia
“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.
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.
Study at Top Accounting Degree Course at Universities in Malaysia with the ACCA Accelerate Programme
To become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia students need to be certified by a professional accounting body such as the ACCA. There are currently about 33,000 accountancy professionals in Malaysia, of which 28 per cent are registered chartered accountants. Malaysia needs 60,000 accountants by 2020.
Students can now become chartered certified accountants in a shorter timeframe at top universities in Malaysia with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Accelerate Programme. Students who are pursuing accredited accounting degree programmes to start taking ACCA Accelerate scheme exams in the third year of their degree programme and graduate with both the degree and ACCA professional qualification at the same time.
The ACCA Qualification and membership are well-recognised by employers not just in Malaysia but also 181 countries worldwide. Undergraduates registered in this scheme can be assured of a competitive edge with both their degree and ACCA certificates in hand.
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 promotion 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)
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.
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.
With at least 5 credits in SPM or O-Levels students can go for the Foundation in Arts or Foundation in Business at the best private universities in Malaysia. After that, they can enter into the 3-year accounting degree programme. Alternatively, students with 3 credits in SPM or O-Levels may enter into the Diploma in Accounting for 2 years. Upon completion of the Diploma, students can enter into Year 2 of the Accounting Degree with advanced standing.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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