AAT and Malaysian Institute of Accountants aligned on value of accounting technicians

8 June 2024

Skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur seen from ground level

By Timothy Dawkins, International Development Lead at AAT, and Leong Mun Foong, Head of Comptency Framework Development at the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)

Like other countries, Malaysia too faces a shortage of qualified accountancy professionals. According to targets for the development of the accounting sector which were published in the Economic Transformation Programme in 2010, Malaysia aimed to produce 60,000 accountants by 2020, which was subsequently revised to 2030. To date, there are close to 40,000 members registered with the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), who are the professional accountants referred to as Chartered Accountant (M) based on the Accountants Act 1967.

To address the challenges of training more accountants, one solution is to establish recognised standards for accounting technicians based on the foundation proficiency level in line with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) International Education Standards. Therefore, MIA has developed a competency framework for accountancy professionals that includes accounting technicians, to be more inclusive and considering the demands of this professional title as well as employer feedback.

The MIA Competency Framework has been developed to ensure the future relevance of the profession and future fitness of accountancy professionals, including by focusing on the role of accounting technicians. The Association for Accounting Technicians (AAT) is the world’s leading professional body for accounting technicians and offers qualifications in Malaysia, which provide an option for many more people to gain access to a career in accountancy. 

Qualified accounting technicians are well placed to be able to fill the shortfall in accountancy professionals. Their training gives them the skills to be able to support businesses of all sizes to not only survive but thrive in a rapidly changing global business environment. Additionally, hiring accounting technicians can also be cost effective for employers, as they can offer solutions to help businesses manage their finances efficiently. In particular, the growth in shared service centres may spike demand for accounting technicians as they are needed to gather, process and interpret the data in Malaysia.

Bearing the above in mind, the Committee to Strengthen the Accountancy Profession (CSAP) Implementation Committee has requested the Ministry of Finance to consider incorporating the accounting technicians title under the new Act once the present Accountants Act has been repealed.

Inclusive opportunities

The AAT accounting qualification provides a strong foundation of financial knowledge and skills, which students can use to find a job in accounting or to pursue further studies. Anyone can begin their accounting technicians journey no matter what their age or previous career roles. AAT is the world’s leading professional body for accounting technicians including bookkeepers and offers qualifications in Malaysia, which provide an option for many more people to gain access to a career in accountancy. 

It has nearly 124,000 members and students in over 100 countries around the world, including Malaysia, and has been helping people access careers in the accountancy profession for over 40 years. 

Although the title of accounting technicians is widely used in other countries, the term is not commonly used in Malaysia. Therefore, MIA will have to advocate for greater collaboration and awareness to ensure the role of the accounting technician bodes well for the market, including legislative amendment to the present Accountants Act.

The accounting technician qualification is suitable for school leavers who can be trained to support senior accounting staff. Through AAT, among others, they can gain an internationally recognised qualification. The AAT programme also offers competency training for school leavers in preparation of joining the workforce.  The modern AAT Q2022 qualifications give additional insights into modern trends such as block chain technology and data analytics as well as the solid foundation to accounting practices for business.  Big data is the next big thing as highlighted in the MIA Digital Blueprint as part of the Industrial Revolution 4.0. Accounting technicians are required to process and interpret a lot of data in the wake of the rising growth of shared service centres and global business services in Malaysia.

The focus of these qualifications is practical skills, making AAT learners real-world-ready, so that employers can trust that they are getting someone ready to come into a role and have an instant impact. 

AAT membership community 

Alongside being a qualifications provider, globally AAT plays a key role in establishing, maintaining, and raising professional standards in select economies. AAT has worked closely with training providers in Malaysia for several years and continues to represent the accounting community passionately around the country. 

AAT also works with IFAC to develop the illustrative competency framework for accounting technicians, which highlights the importance of accounting technicians in line with the MIA Competency Framework.

AAT is looking forward to working with MIA on expanding the base of accounting technicians for the future relevance of the profession and nation-building. This is a real opportunity to show how accounting technicians can play a crucial role at a time of significant economic change worldwide, and ensure these qualifications are recognised for the value they bring to individuals, businesses and the economy.