Local, overseas demand for accountants seen rising

The Board of Accountancy (BOA) of the Professional Regulatory Commission recognizes the need for an increase in the number of Filipinos who take up accountancy, in line with the increase in the demand for the profession not only in the Philippines, but also in other countries.

According to Joel L. Tan-Torres, chairman of BOA, there is a shortage in Filipino certified public accountants (CPAs) given the local and overseas demand for more of these professionals. He explained only 7,500 to 8,000 accountants are certified each year in the Philippines, with a majority of the CPAs finding work abroad, including the Middle East and Singapore among others.

“Just to give you some numbers, we produce about 7,500 to 8,000 accountants a year. And we’ve been producing that since 1923. We are definitely the largest in the region in terms of the number of accountants. We have been globally recognized and in demand to address their requirements,” Tan-Torres said at the sidelines of the CPA oath taking ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Tuesday.

In the Asean Tan-Torres said Singapore alone needs at least 20,000 CPAs, while Malaysia needs 30,000 accountants who are fluent in the use of the English language. He added that Filipino accountants posses such skills as to meet the requirements easily.

“We fit the bill. It’s not only in accounting that an accountant can be tapped for. There is also governance, strategic planning, even marketing,” he added.

The former top dog at the Bureau of Internal Revenue said since the demand for accountants around the world is unrelenting, the number of CPAs produced by the Philippines each year needs to grow to meet the demand.

“Yes there’s a shortage, even as we speak right now. Filipino accountants are servicing not only the requirements of Filipino businesses or the needs of the country, but also the needs of its neighbors. We have so many Filipino accountants working in the Middle East, Singapore and the United States and even in Australia. Definitely there is so much opportunity and demand for Filipino accountants,” he reiterated.

Alex Malley, president of CPA Australia, also said a good number of CPAs branch out to sectors, such as politics and risk management, among other areas.

“The thing about being a CPA is you don’t actually have to be in an accounting role. There are strategic leaders and so what you find is they work in many areas of management and leadership. And they have skills around governance, risk management, strategy development, and people management. All of these areas are in demand, and having a CPA qualification gives you that opportunity,” Malley said.

Malley further explained that since the profession speaks an international language, reporting mechanisms can easily be understood by companies outside the Philippines, opening more opportunities in terms of job generation for accountants in the process.

“It’s the only profession that has grasped international standards basically. And while there are still a few more countries to come, the majority has one set of global standards, which means that investors can make comparisons because the reporting mechanisms are in similar context,” he added.

According to the BOA president, more than a hundred thousand students enroll in the accounting profession during their first year in college, with only a small amount actually passing the CPA board exam by the end of their years in school. He notes that the increase in students who enroll under accountancy is an indication that the students also see that there is a demand for accountants.

“I think the challenge for all professions is to stay contemporary. What I find inspiring about what is going on here in the Philippines is that the BOA clearly recognizes the need to keep moving forward and enhance qualifications,” Malley said.

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Rea Cu is a graduate of Assumption College-Makati with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. She majored in Advertising and is currently the finance reporter of the BusinessMirror.

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