Come February, practitioners will have to - rather than just chalking up 3 years of audit experience - gain another 2 years of audit management experience before they can qualify as public accountants.
The change was announced by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's (ACRA) chief executive, Kenneth Yap, yesterday, as part of his speech at the ISCA Auditing and Assurance Conference, held as part of the Singapore Accountancy Convention 2014 organised by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).
From Feb 1, 2015, all public accountants will need to have accumulated 2,500 hours of experience in audit management, which takes about 2 years. They must have independently and competently performed certain key audit functions involving planning and leading an audit, and forming and reporting about the audit's conclusions during this period.
And, to make sure that the audit management experience is gained at an appropriately senior level, the 2,500 hours counts only after the accountant has completed their professional accountancy training.
For ISCA members, the 2,500 hours will have to come after qualifying being a full ISCA member, which typically takes one to three years of post-qualification experience ; non-ISCA members will have to have completed an equivalent level of post-qualification experience.
And, from 2019, the Singapore Qualification Programme or a recognised equivalent professional qualification will have to be completed before the 2,500 hours is clocked.
Mr Yap noted: "At present, ACRA generally requires applicants to have 3 years of audit experience, without specifying that the experience must relate to the management aspect of an audit. In practice, we find that most applicants too easily meet this threshold."
On a whole, revised process of qualification would take no less than 5 years.
The revised requirements were drafted in consultation with the professional accountancy bodies and representatives from both small and large audit firms.