If you are interested in becoming an accountant or in the market for accounting services, you may have come across the term ‘chartered accountant’ (CA).
Also referred to as CA, this sub-segment of the accounting profession is quickly expanding and focusing on longer-term issues, such as environmental social governance (ESG), ethics, and technology, with diversity and socioeconomic mobility becoming their top priorities.
In order to qualify as a CA, you must earn a professional accounting certification, an advanced degree that gives you specialised instruction in accounting.
These credentials are offered by global professional certifying bodies such as ICAEW, ACCA, CPA Australia, and CIMA.
Seven decades ago, Hanafiah Hussain, an erstwhile village youth from Yan, Kedah, defied all odds and became Malaysia’s first Malay Fellow Chartered Accountant with ICAEW.
He spoke about how the profession needed to keep building trust and how it could play a critical role in nation-building.
During his days, addressing social mobility was extremely challenging as one misstep could create a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged people, regions, and groups. As a result, progress was not only slowed, but also reversed.
To combat this, Hanafiah became instrumental in the formation of FELDA in its nascent stages, with a clear purpose of improving the livelihoods of the rural poor through geographic resettlement.
He also founded FAMA, a stationary body that strives to eliminate the vicious debt cycle faced by local farmers by phasing out middlemen.
He was then entrusted with establishing the Malaysian Muslim Pilgrimage Sharing Corporation (Tabung Haji) to facilitate the process for FELDA farmers and settlers to travel to Makkah.
Without the men and women who laid the groundwork for Malaysia’s transformation from an agrarian society to an industrialised one, where would it be today?
Modern research has revealed the presence of a strong correlation between diverse sectors and enhanced economic performance. Countries adept at diversification are said to be more resilient, agile, and overall, better governed.
As the country’s first Malay CA, Hanafiah’s financial management and administrative skills were much sought after to develop the accountancy profession, specifically the localisation of public practice.
When public sector bodies fail to operate effective internal controls and govern themselves appropriately, it can result in an increase in taxes and a reduction in the quality of essential public services.
This could be due to poor management and, as has become apparent in recent times, misappropriation of funds. In this case, CAs help alleviate the issue by contributing to tax planning, capital budgeting, budget forecasting, financing, and more.
“It is all part and parcel of the development of a professional chartered accountant” he added.
It is this spirit, which is embodied in the CA profession, that should be exemplified in our nation-building efforts as we strive to reach developed status moving forward.