Many organisations around the world acknowledge chartered professionals as highly competent individuals who are dedicated to continuous professional development. Gaining a professional qualification not only requires considerable effort and discipline, it also requires lifelong dedication and perseverance.
The ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA) is a highly respected and globally recognised professional qualification in the field of finance, accounting and business. In fact, the ICAEW ACA was the launchpad for some of the most successful careers in business and finance.
We recently spoke to two ICAEW ACA members from Malaysia, who shared their thoughts on how the ICAEW ACA qualification has helped them achieve their aspirations.
Insights from Beh Chian Tyng, ACA, Principal at Beh L. H. & Co. (12 Years’ Experience)
1. How has your ICAEW qualification and experience helped you in progressing through your career?
I would say that you need to have a very strong foundation, good training and a lot of stamina to thrive in the business and finance industry; and the road towards qualifying as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA) certainly provides training in all three areas.
I was fortunate to be one of the first three A-level students in Kuala Lumpur to study for the ICAEW ACA qualification without a bachelors degree. At 19, I started as an audit assistant in Folks DFK & Co while undertaking the ICAEW ACA papers. Juggling between full-time work and part-time studying required a huge amount of discipline and perseverance. Though I would occasionally find myself disheartened seeing my peers ‘having the time of their lives’, I constantly reminded myself about why I had chosen this path, and that my hard work and sacrifice would be all worth it in the end.
My decision to pursue the ICAEW ACA opened the door to an opportunity at a prestigious multinational bank. At the age of 31, I decided that having spent some time at the bank, I wanted to pursue my dreams of leading my own accounting firm.
It’s been a huge learning curve for me from the start, but one that I would not trade for anything. Ultimately, the ACA experience has helped me mature into the person I am today – well-equipped with the confidence and resilience to face challenges that come my way.
2. How has the qualification expanded your networking circle in the industry?
The ICAEW ACA has enormously expanded my professional circle both directly and indirectly. Being an ICAEW member connects me with elite accountants in the industry, and there is an unspoken camaraderie between ICAEW members, knowing that we all went through the same mill and challenges to get the qualification.
The opportunities presented to me as a chartered accountant also provides an excellent platform for networking. While my time at the bank brought close connections with senior management of several listed companies, along the way I’ve also met and worked with many incredible people from various backgrounds and industries. The experience and mentoring I’ve received from my bosses, peers and clients were truly priceless.
3. Any memorable moments from your ICAEW study days?
Two things come to mind: Waking up at 4.00am daily to revise before leaving for work, and studying at La Bodega with my study mates – with lots of beer and vino!
For me, it was the anxiety and excitement of getting my results online and seeing my name on the pass list that was most memorable, knowing that all my blood, sweat and tears (like, literally) were completely worth it.
4. Advice to those who are considering to pursue the ICAEW ACA qualification?
Keep up the hard work, persevere and manage your time efficiently. Prioritise the important things and keep your eyes (both of them) on the prize.
Insights from Ronald Liaw, ACA, Assistant Manager, Treasury-Financial Risk Management at Malaysia Airlines Berhad (6 Years’ Experience)
1. Why did you choose to pursue the ICAEW ACA qualification?
What sets ICAEW apart from other professional accounting bodies is certainly their commitment towards nurturing young talent.
I was convinced that the ICAEW ACA qualification is what I needed to succeed as a well-rounded business leader from my early engagements with the ICAEW Malaysia team. They have done a fantastic job in developing close partnerships with local universities, connecting students with fellow members and their network of business partners. These platforms have continuously provided students with the opportunities to expand their professional relationships and gain valuable insights from industry veterans.
2. How did your ICAEW knowledge and experience help kickstart your career?
I recall my mentor once said, if you think accountancy is just about balancing the books then you will end up just being a glorified bookkeeper; a chartered accountant should be able to add value to a business. ICAEW ACA is geared towards training individuals to not only on technical competencies but also to become strategic business thinkers. I remember being exposed to real-life business problems through the case study exam, where my friends and I engaged in intense discussions and debates, looking for optimum solutions.
‘Qualifying as a chartered accountant opens up a world of opportunities’ is not just a marketing gimmick by ICAEW, it is proven and I can attest to that. Having qualified and returned to Malaysia in 2016, I joined the Malaysia Airlines Treasury team in overseeing the management of the organisation’s financial hedging portfolio on fuel, forex and interest rate risk. I have the confidence that each and every ACA out there is able to apply the skills, knowledge and experience that we developed through the ICAEW ACA training.
3. What were the support and guidance you had received from ICAEW and your organisation during the early stages of your career?
Having practical work experience with an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer (ATE) as one of the requirements for ACA makes perfect sense; it encourages you to apply classroom knowledge at work and it makes learning especially relevant. It also acts as a good support system for someone who is at the early stages of their career.
In addition, ethics is a core component of ICAEW. The Institute together with the member firms provide helpful ethical guidance and support which is very important for young professionals in my opinion, as we may not have enough experience yet to deal with ethical dilemmas.
How to obtain your ACA and become an ICAEW Member?
If you are interested to learn more about ICAEW and how a professional qualification can empower your career, we are here to help!
Depending on your personal outlook, career goals, and learning style, there are several paths you can take to become an ICAEW ACA. Read this article to find out more.
Note: This article was written in partnership with ICAEW, one of the world’s leading providers of training and professional development for chartered accountants.