Rapid development has been a prominent aspect of Singapore’s history. In the early years, accountants answered the call for a strong profession, ensuring that a set of stringent guidelines were in place to protect the integrity of Singapore’s finances. As accountancy took root in Singapore, there emerged a society that would unify all accountants, one that would evolve into an Institute that would redefine the accounting profession of the nation - the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).
Over the past five decades, the accountancy profession has grown to match the progress of our nation. We have mirrored the growth of Singapore as it transformed from a newly industrialised country to emerge as one of the world’s leading financial centres today. The success of ISCA today stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication and commitment of the accountancy profession in forging higher standards of professionalism.
Throughout the years, the Institute has remained steadfast in our dedication to our members, and this commitment is marked by the various milestones in our journey. To add greater value, the Institute has strengthened its infrastructure, built its technical capabilities, enhanced member outreach and expanded its global footprint so as to give our members the recognition they deserve.
Here are some of the milestones in our journey:
1963: The Birth of the Singapore Society of Accountants
On 24 June 1963, the Singapore Society of Accountants (SSA) was established to register and regulate the conduct of all accountants.
List of Founding Members:
- Yong Chow Hin (Chairman)
- Eric Greenwood
- Francis Kwan Kum Poh
- Chua Kim Yeow
- Yeo Yong Poh
- Tay Kwang Jin
- George Chung Chi-Nung
- Lim Hee Seng
- H.F.G. Leembruggen
- Michael Pakshong
- Reginald Quahe Tian Chun
1964: Official Crest of the Singapore Society of Accountants
At the Council meeting in December 1964, the official crest of the Singapore Society of Accountants was adopted. The theme of the crest has an industrial wheel and quill pen with a punch card as the background. The Society’s name was included in the crest.
1965: The 1965/1966 Singapore Society of Accountants Council
The earliest available group photograph of the Singapore Society of Accountants - the 1965/1966 council, led by President Francis Kwan Kum Poh.Standing from left: Lee Boon Huat (Honorary Treasurer), Chai Chong Yii, T. Kanagarajah, Eric Greenwood, Lee Kwok Hoong.
Seated from left: Yew Chong Kew (Registrar), F. W. Westworth, Chua Kim Yeow (Vice President), Francis Kwan Kum Poh (President), H. F. G. Leembruggen, Chan Kin Kum.
1966: The First Accountants’ Conference organised by SSA
Mr Lim Kim San, then Minister of Finance, spoke at the inauguration ceremony of the First Accountants’ Conference organised by SSA at Singapore Polytechnic on 5 March 1966. He was accompanied by SSA President Francis Kwan Kum Poh and speaker, Mr F. G. Bailey, A.C.W.A.
1967: Our Own Premises
SSA moved into its own premises at Amber Mansions on Orchard Road, set up with a donation from the Australian Students Society in 1967.
1977: Closer Ties with International Professional Accountancy Bodies
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) was formed on 7 October 1977 and Singapore was among the 45 member countries comprising some 60 accountancy bodies. Mr Steven Tan, SSA President (1969, 1971 - 1973, & 1977, 1980) represented SSA at the signing of the Agreement and Constitution of IFAC on 7 October 1977.
ASEAN Federation of Accountants at the third council meeting in Hilton Hotel on 8 December 1977.
1982: Development of A New Professional Accountancy Body
On 7 July 1982, Council members voted in favour to welcome the proposal of the Ministry of Finance to establish a separate Accountants Board for registration of accountants. The constitution and by-laws of the new professional accountancy body were drafted and discussed by the Council.
Council proposed to name the new body the ‘Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore’. The nomenclature ‘Certified Public Accountant’ was considered for adoption.
1984: New Emblem for the Singapore Society of Accountants
A new emblem replaced the twenty-year-old crest of the Singapore Society of Accountants in February 1984. The new design encompassed the book, shield and supporting lions over a scroll which bears the Society’s name.
1987: Joint Scheme Agreement with the Association of Accounting Technicians
In March 1987, SSA entered into a joint scheme agreement with the Association of Accounting Technicians in the United Kingdom to hold customised courses for accounting technicians in Singapore. The signing ceremony involved Paul Treadway and Keith Tay, SSA President (1982 – 1991) at the Mandarin hotel.
1989: The Birth of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore
On 11 February 1989, the Singapore Society of Accountants (SSA) was reconstituted and renamed the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), under the Accountants Act 1987.
A self-regulating body, ICPAS was charged with handling professional matters, ethics, standards and professional development. Under the new Act, all 7,444 members of the Institute, in public and private practice, were designated as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).
1993: 30th Anniversary of ICPAS
More than 600 members and guests attended ICPAS’ 30th Anniversary Dinner at the Neptune Theatre Restaurant on 6 March 1993, with then President Wee Kim Wee gracing the event as Guest-of-Honour.
1999: Official Opening of CPA House
CPA House at 20 Aljunied Road was officially opened by then-Finance Minister Dr Richard Hu on 30 January 1999.
2004: Reconstitution of ICPAS
With the formation of ACRA, ICPAS was reconstituted on 1 April 2004 as a society under the Societies Act.
The shield symbolised the Institute as a corporate body with a well-established and solid foundation of accuracy. Of the three main features on the shield, the checked surface was changed to an interlocking element, to denote networking and the significant involvement of the Institute’s members with computers.
2004: Mutual Recognition Agreement with CPA Australia
The Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between ICPAS and CPA Australia was signed in 2004, offering ICPAS Professional Examinations graduates access to foreign membership.
2005: Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Second MRA with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) signed.
2010: Report on “Transforming Singapore into a Leading Global Accountancy Hub for Asia-Pacific” Released
In 2010, the Committee to Develop the Accountancy Sector (CDAS) released its Final Report on “Transforming Singapore into a Leading Global Accountancy Hub for Asia-Pacific”, with 10 recommendations for actualising the vision.
One of the recommendations was for ICPAS to transform into a professional accountancy body with global membership, outlook and standing.
2011: Amendment of ICPAS Constitution
ICPAS Constitution amended to align with recommendation in the government’s CDAS Report; 90% of members present at the Extraordinary General Meeting voted in favour of the changes.
2012: Hosting the IFAC SMP Forum in Singapore
ICPAS co-hosted the IFAC SMP Forum in Singapore, participated by over 200 delegates from 40 professional accountancy organisations in 36 countries.
2013: The Birth of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
The Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary on 2 July 2013 at the Singapore Accountancy Convention and Golden Jubilee Dinner.
The Institute’s new name ‘Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA)’ and logo was officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Convention, and Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Golden Jubilee Dinner, respectively.
The change of name is in view of the “Chartered Accountant of Singapore” designation replacing the “CPA Singapore” designation.
The Next Lap
As we move towards the future, the Institute will continue to develop and roll out new initiatives and relevant programmes for its members in the years to come.
Together, with its stakeholders and members, the Institute will strive to help Singapore achieve its vision of becoming a leading global accountancy hub.
To learn more about ISCA's key initiatives, please browse our annual reports.