Founded in the UK in 1880, ICAEW is a world leading organisation of Chartered Accountants headquartered in London with offices in Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Singapore. Over the years, ICAEW has built a global community of professionals and connected with over 150,000 members, working with government, regulators and industry to build strong economies worldwide, including the emerging region of Southeast Asia.
The history of ICAEW members in Southeast Asia goes back to the early years of the last century but the regional headquarters was only established 10 years ago, when Mark Billington was appointed as the first ICAEW SEA Regional Director and tasked to build out the historically UK-centric brand across the region. Since then, his regional team has come a long way in establishing their presence with over 2,500 members across the major ASEAN cities. Today, ICAEW members work in every sector of the profession be it in practice or in industry as well as academia, government and not-for-profit.
As a Fellow Chartered Accountant, combined with his extensive international business experience, it came as no surprise that Mark was the ideal candidate to take the helm as ICAEW’s Regional Director in Southeast Asia. His appointment was a significant step in ICAEW’s strategy to expand its international footprint within a key global market.
In conjunction with their 10th year anniversary, ProspectsASEAN recently talked to Mark, who shared great insights into his journey with ICAEW Southeast Asia and his vision to further increase the ICAEW brand across the region.
1. This year marks the 10th anniversary for ICAEW Southeast Asia. What would you say has been the biggest achievement for ICAEW in this region?
10 years has indeed flown by. Through our members, ICAEW has a long and rich history in ASEAN independent of the office here. In my view, our biggest achievement in the last 10 years has been the engagement of the brightest young talent in Southeast Asia irrespective of where they live or their background. We successfully recognised the opportunity for them to utilize ICAEW as a platform to continue contributing to this story of development and impacting the lives of those around them.
2. What is your primary focus for ICAEW Southeast Asia this year?
At ICAEW, we have a simple vision – wherever we are, we believe in a world of strong economies. We will continue to engage with local stakeholders wherever we can to promote and drive that vision into reality.
3. We understand that ICAEW has a strong presence in 4 ASEAN countries – namely Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Do you have any plans to expand ICAEW into other ASEAN countries in the near future?
We want to see strong local national bodies leading the profession. In addition to our current offices, we have already delivered support through our important capacity-building work in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand. In our globally connected world, I believe it won’t be about the number of offices we have, but instead the networks that we create and contribute to. Through this connectivity, ICAEW will continue to support the regional community through our Academy, our ethics service, or examinations that are available throughout the region.
4. In the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and with jobs across various industries constantly being disrupted by technology, will the accountancy profession continue to play a pivotal role in businesses?
IR4.0 is not the first time we have seen disruptive change since we were formed in 1880, but it is possibly the most rapid. My view is that being an ‘accountant’ who is an expert in process-driven activities will gradually become less relevant in the future. Instead, being a trusted finance and accounting professional, like a Chartered Accountant, who also combines that with excellence in other up-to-date softer skills will be an even more highly sort-after commodity.
5. Any advice for young ASEAN graduates who are considering to pursue the ACA qualification in 2019?
Take your time and work out what you want. If it is an internationally portable finance and business qualification recognised in the region and globally, then the ICAEW’s ACA qualification and our membership will take you places and serve you well for a long time throughout your career wherever that may take you.
Note: This article was written in partnership with ICAEW, one of the world’s leading providers of training and professional development for chartered accountants.