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May 7, 2015

ISCA launches compliance programme for small firms in Singapore

By Isabella Grotto

The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has started a collaborative industry project with small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) in a bid to help them comply with Singapore’s quality control standards.

The agreement will support SMPs’ adoption of the 2005 Singapore Standards for Quality Control (SSQC 1), a set of mandatory requirements for any firm carrying out audits, financial statement reviews or other assurance services.

Aimed at providing a guiding structure for public accounting firms’ employees, the standards cover leadership responsibilities, ethics and independence, client relationships policies and procedures, human resources and engagement performance and monitoring.

According to ISCA, 95% of Singapore’s 640-odd public accounting firms qualify as SMPs; they are usually small proprietorships and only have a few partners, as well as fewer than 50 members of staff.

The Institute described the current level of SSQC1 implementation among SMPs as varied, with some having inadequate knowledge of the standards while others are limited by resource constraints.

Further, different sized firms require varying degrees of quality control policies and procedures, it added.

As such, participants in the CIP will develop a set of quality control policies tailored to their requirements, documenting them in a process manual under the guidance of an external consultant and the ISCA.

Following this stage, the ISCA will review the participating firm’s SSQC1 implementation, completing the entire process within a year.

According to ISCA, funding for the programme will be available from Spring Singapore, an agency dedicated to enterprise growth under the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.

ISCA technical knowledge centre and quality assurance executive director Lim Ai Leen said: "Properly implemented quality control (QC) standards would provide practitioners the assurance of consistency in the quality of output and service across engagements.

"SSQC 1 adoption would promote a culture that places quality at the forefront of the firm," she added.

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