Singapore's 30 Largest Accounting Firms 2015

PwC is no longer top of the list.

Rising up to the top spot of this year’s list of largest accounting firms based on total staff is KPMG. Previously at third place, KPMG grew its staff to 2900 from 2400 a year ago.

Quek Shu Ping, Head of People, Performance and Culture at KPMG, told the SBR team that they have increased their headcount across each of the audit, tax and advisory areas of business – particularly at a more senior level - by more than 14% over the past year.

Rounding up the Big 4 are PwC Singapore, EY and Deloitte& Touche. PwC Singapore increased its staff to 2,579 in 2015 from 2,500 a year ago while Deloitte & Touche grew its number to 2,200 from 2000.

Accountant demand to keep beating supply beyond 2016

2015 has been a good year for professionals in Singapore – the hiring mood in Singapore has been very busy in the past year, particularly for accountants. The specialised technical skills and knowledge that accounting professionals possess are essential to businesses and organisations in all industries, and the demand for accountants has remained strong across the board in the past year. However, recent accountancy graduates have shown a preference for financial institutions such as large banks, which offer a higher starting salary compared to other organisations.

“Previously, fresh accountancy graduates, especially those who graduated with first-class honours, would start their careers as auditors in the public accounting firms (including big international accounting firms) before venturing into the commercial world after having accumulated sufficient working experience in the auditing field,” says Paul Tan Lye Heng, managing director of CA Trust PAC and member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). This new trend has public accounting firms struggling to recruit top talent, the professionals who make up the backbone of the accountancy profession.

For professionals, experience in the financial and banking sectors is especially beneficial, as regulations and measures are steadily being tightened in those industries. “In banking and financial services, technical accountants or accountants with niche expertise are particularly sought after for their industry specific knowledge, expertise around accounting requirements, and certain client exposure,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director of Hays Singapore.

At the same time, companies are also more specific with their hiring requirements. “Back in 2007-2010, the accountant’s interview process till the offer stage usually takes less than 2-3 weeks. However, this has changed to up to 2-3 months as they are looking for the perfect fit,” says Yanni Ma’at, Morgan McKinley Commerce & Industry Division. Employers are taking as much time as necessary to hire the most suitable candidates for the job scope.

This 2016, the trends seem to predict a consistently strong demand for accounting professionals. “As long as the Singapore economy continues to be robust and vibrant, the demand for accountants will likely continue to outstrip supply in 2016 and beyond,” says Heng.

For accountants exploring their options, certain factors come into play when employers select candidates – for instance, experience and specialised skill are particularly important. According to Heng, an increase in demand for professionals with specialised skills is noticeable, particularly for candidates with both a professional accountancy qualification and Master’s qualification as they can bring a combination of academic and professional perspectives.

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