Beale makes case for accounting technicians on global stage during landmark mission to Malaysia

21 June 2024

Sarah Beale and Tim Dawkins with MIA officials

Association of Accounting Technicians’ (AAT) chief executive Sarah Beale is returning to the awarding organisation’s global headquarters in London hot on the heels of a successful round of bilateral engagements, international events, and new partnership signings during a week in Kuala Lumpur.

Beale was in the Malaysian capital alongside AAT International Development Lead Tim Dawkins last week to connect with key stakeholders, meet current and potential AAT training providers, and to promote the value of accounting technicians to government and other partners.

“The trip to Malaysia provided an incredible opportunity to champion the value of accounting technicians on the global stage. From meeting with local and global industry leaders, to signing impactful new agreements: it was great to share insights and forge new partnerships.”

“I look forward to continuing and expanding AAT’s relationships across the region and ensuring accounting technicians are recognised for the incredible value they bring to individuals, businesses, and the economy”, said AAT’s Sarah Beale.

AAT provides a global voice for a dynamic profession

A key reason for the visit was to connect with AAT’s sister accountancy bodies on the global stage.

Beale and Dawkins were able to share insights with the international accountancy community. Beale represented AAT at the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA) and Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) Council meetings as a member and affiliate member, respectively.

She said: “It was really interesting to hear about the development of the profession and how these organisations are working to unify the world of accountancy for the greater good.”

Beale highlighted that the content ranged from how to grasp a rapidly changing technological landscape, typified by the emergence of practical AI, to the global challenges faced by planet and our industry – on climate, and the war on talent.

Collage of Sarah and Tim at the AFA council meeting

Beale and Dawkins also met with the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. AAT works alongside the Commission to develop strong relationships in the regions and countries where UK qualifications can bring real value to local communities and their long-term finance skills development.

Sarah Beale and Tim Dawkins with British High Commission

Malaysia – an exciting future for ATs

Beale and Dawkins were invited to represent AAT and the accounting technician profession more widely as guests at the international conference of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), held 11-12 June. The conference brings together professionals across all career levels and sectors, including from educational bodies and accounting system providers – both local and from across the region.

The event opened with great ceremony by the country’s Minister of Finance, YB Senator Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan.

Over the two days of the conference Beale and Dawkins were able to reconnect with AAT’s longstanding friends and allies on the global stage. This provided the opportunity to exchange perspectives on the major challenges facing accountancy and to share AAT’s vision for the profession’s future relevance.

MIA brings together professionals across all career levels and sectors, including from educational bodies and accounting system providers – both local and from across the region. "Malaysia is an exciting and rapidly growing market,” said AAT’s Beale.

“Along with the wider ASEAN region, Malaysia’s growth represents an historic opportunity for accounting technicians to come to prominence as a vital profession, especially as national and state governments seek to secure the finance skills their economies demand,” she said.

The country experienced a sharp 12% growth across its micro, small and medium-sized enterprise sector in 2022 alone – well above GDP growth seen that year, and a world away from the economic wobbles seen in Western markets amidst Covid recovery and the onset of the current energy crisis.

Engaging with governments

AAT’s Tim Dawkins said governments are urged to align their respective education, industry and regulatory policies to support a greater number of accounting technicians being trained in the years to come.

“We are engaging with governments across the region and globally to understand their skills challenges,” said Dawkins. “Our approach is all about working with local professional bodies and sector experts so that we can add real value with our globally respected qualifications.”

Sarah Beale and Tim Dawkins were also able to meet with officials at the Department of Skills Development in the Ministry of Human Resources. The meeting covered a discussion of the current National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS) for Accounting held by the Jabatan Pembangunan Kemahiran (JPK) to see how it aligns with industry needs and AAT’s qualifications.

New exemptions pave the way for opportunity

Coinciding with the visit, Sarah Beale and Tim Dawkins were able to meet with partners at the Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia (CTIM), signing a landmark agreement confirming new exemptions to recognise each other’s qualifications alongside CTIM’s president, Soh Lian Seng.

“The new pathways to gain AAT qualifications will help more students springboard into practice as well as supporting the local tax sector,” said AAT’s Sarah Beale.

Those with a number of CTIM qualifications will no longer have to sit all AAT assessments to gain AAT qualifications, which are Ofqual-recognised and globally respected. The move creates a more direct path for students and members with CTIM local tax qualifications to become AAT qualified accounting technicians.

“This agreement opens up a world of opportunities for local tax practitioners and those with AAT qualifications. It builds on the strong local market knowledge that CTIM equips learners with, by making the path more direct to gaining AAT credentials and access to the world of opportunities that being ‘AAT’ represents,” she said.

Sarah Beale signing CTIM agreement with Soh Lian Seng

Recognising teaching excellence in a region hungry to learn 

MAS Education owner, Sayar Thura Shein, and co-owner, Myint Myint Yee, were handed the International Trading Provider of the Year trophy during the trip following their win at the Training Provider Awards in March.

The award recognises MAS Education’s strong year-on-year growth and tremendous dedication to provide AAT qualifications amidst challenging circumstances in Myanmar.

Sarah Beale said: “Whilst I was delighted to receive a video message from MAS earlier in the year accepting the award virtually, it is even better that to be able to present this world-class educator with the important honour myself, here in person.”

Sarah Beale delivers award to Thura Shein and Myint Myint Yee