Financial Reporting & Auditing in Singapore

The Accounting Profession of Singapore

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) is the national body representing the accounting profession in Singapore. It maintains a register of qualified accountants comprising mainly local graduates. Membership is open to members of the Institutes of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and a number of other accounting bodies. Generally, prior to being admitted as a full member, they must attend a week-long pre-admission course. Members are designated as certified public accountants (CPA).

The Public Accountants Board, whose council members are appointed by the Ministry of Finance, licenses and registers accountants who wish to practise. It also handles practice monitoring, disciplinary matters and regulations on professional conduct.

Accounting Records in Singapore

All companies incorporated under the Companies Act are required to maintain books of accounts that sufficiently explain the transactions and financial position of the company.

The books may be kept either at the company’s registered office or at another place the directors think fit. If the books are maintained outside Singapore, sufficient records must be maintained in Singapore to facilitate the preparation and/or audit of financial statements that reflect accurately the company’s financial position.

Sources of Accounting Principles

Financial Periods Commencing before 1 January 2003 The principal source of accounting principles in Singapore, namely Statements of Accounting Standards (SAS) and Interpretation of Statements of Accounting Standards (INT), are issued by ICPAS. These standards are essentially International Accounting Standards (IAS) modified for certain transitional provisions. They provide guidelines on the accounting measurements and disclosure requirements. Businesses may depart from such standards if the standards conflict with disclosure exemptions granted by law. Otherwise, ICPAS may take disciplinary action against any of its members who are in violation of the standards.

Rules on accounting measurements are generally established by SAS and INT. Disclosure requirements are governed by SAS, INT and the Companies Act.

ICPAS is a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). Compliance with IASC standards are not mandatory, but the institute supports the IASC objectives of formulating and publishing standards for observance during presentation of audited financial statements and promoting worldwide acceptance of such standards.

Financial Periods Commencing on or after 1 January 2003 With the implementation of section 37 of the Companies (Amendment) Act 2002, SAS issued by ICPAS will not be used with effect from annual financial periods commencing on or after 1 January 2003. Instead, Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (FRS), issued by the new accounting standards-setting body, the Council on Corporate Disclosure and Governance (CCDG), are now effective. FRS are essentially adopted from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The previous SAS were adopted from the same set of IFRS (formerly referred to as IAS) but with modification to certain transitional provisions. Consequently, there are differences between FRS and SAS.

Interpretations of Standards are authoritative guidance on the application of the relevant standards. CCDG adopted all international interpretations as Interpretations of FRS (INT FRS) with effect from financial periods beginning on or after 1 January 2003.

Compliance with FRS is a statutory requirement whereby any non-compliance amounts to a breach of the Companies Act by the directors.

Financial Reporting in Singapore

The Companies Act requires that an audited set of financial statements, made up to not more than six months before every Annual General Meeting, is to be presented to the shareholders at the meeting. Generally if a company incorporated in Singapore has one or more subsidiaries, it must prepare consolidated financial statements unless it meets certain criteria as provided for in FRS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements. Currently, financial statements under the Companies Act consist of the balance sheet, income statement together with explanatory notes. With the Companies (Accounting Standards) Regulations 2002 coming into operation for financial periods on or after 1 January 2003, a complete set of financial statements will comprise the balance sheet, income statement, statement of changes in equity, cash flow statement and explanatory notes.

The financial statements must be accompanied by the directors’ and auditors’ reports and by a statement from the directors declaring that the financial statements show a true and fair view and that it is reasonable to believe that the company can reasonably pay its debts as they become due.

Companies which meet specific provisions in the Companies Act may be exempt from having their accounts audited but nevertheless must prepare financial statements that comply with the Companies Act.

Annual Requirements for Companies in Singapore

The Companies Act requires every company, except for those exempted in accordance with the provisions in the Act, to appoint one or more auditors qualified for appointment under the Accountants Act to report on the company’s financial statements. The auditors are to ascertain whether proper books of accounts have been kept and whether the financial statements agree with the company’s records. They will then report on the trueness and fairness of the financial statements to the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.

Audit Exemption Starting with the financial year beginning on or after 15 May 2003, the following companies are no longer required to have their accounts audited. However, they are still required to prepare accounts (and consolidated accounts where applicable) that comply with FRS.

o Small exempt private companies An exempt private company with revenue in a financial year below S$5m is exempted from appointing auditors and from audit requirements. Revenue is defined according to the statutory accounting standards, i.e. the FRS.

o Dormant companies A dormant company is exempted from appointing auditors and from the audit requirements if it has been dormant either (a) from the time of its formation or (b) since the end of the previous financial year. A company is considered dormant during a period in which no accounting transaction occurs, and the company ceases to be dormant on the occurrence of such a transaction. For this purpose, transactions arising from the following are disregarded:

  • Taking of shares in the company by a subscriber to the memorandum
  • Appointment of company secretary
  • Appointment of auditor
  • Maintenance of a registered office
  • Keeping of registers and books
  • Fees, fines or default penalties paid to the Registrar of Companies

Graphic Design: Degree Or No Degree?

Through my design career I have come across many job adverts for a graphic designer 'with a degree'. It always made me feel a little frustrated – "If I do not have a degree do you automatically assume I will not be good enough to join your company?". Surely a designer's portfolio and / or experience should say more than a piece of paper with a qualification on it.

I studied for a higher national diploma in graphic design at college and when the course finished I had the chance of pursuing a degree in graphic design or go for an advanced diploma in art and design. One of my lecturers told me that the degree contained more theory work where the advanced diploma was more practical. I opted for the practical work … after all that's what graphic design is.

The advanced diploma was only a year of study but most of the work was project based even if the deadlines were a bit too generous at times. However, since leaving college (armed with my qualifications) I admit that I learn more during my first design role and by teaching myself. That kind of education never stops with the design world and technology continuously changing.

This led me to question the importance of a degree as a designer and I know that I'm not the only one to ask this. In my honest opinion a degree does not automatically make someone more creative and successful than a designer who is self taught or who has learnt on the job. Their portfolio should be the strongest reflection of their skills and abilities especially when it comes to finding employment. Do companies advertising for a designer 'with a degree' honestly think that they are going to employ a better designer or is it a status thing?

Now I know that things have changed since I was at college so I thought I had a look at what degree courses my local college offers and found that they offer a BA in Art and Design. Here are the modules:

Year 1: Visual arts; applied crafts; digital arts; site specific design; graphic design; performance related design; web design; animation; self-employment; video production; community art; textile design; teacher or lecturer.

Year 2 : Creative skills and concepts; integrated project; visual literacy; digital applications; specialist options: skills development; contextual studies; personal development planning.

Year 3: Creative practice; contextual practice; specialist options: skills application practice; research skills; critical and contextual studies; pathways and concepts; professional and studio practice; professional and contextual studies; creative futures.

I did not study most of this stuff and I've spent 9 years in design studios working on a wide variety of projects of all sizes and with good feedback. I'm now working full-time as a freelancer trying to grow my own business. I like to think that I turned out okay without a degree.

So I guess my question is … does a degree make a better designer or is it all down to natural creative flair, experience and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends?

Will a Domain Search Lead to Someone Else Stealing My Domain Name?

Over the years I have come across a few people who believe that if they search for domain names using any of the domain registrars on the internet there are people ready to steal their domain name ideas. This thinking believes that if you are going to search for a domain name for your new venture, you better be ready to register that domain name on the spot or risk having someone else see that you looked up the domain name and register it ahead of you…

So is this possible?

The short answer is no. Unfortunately though, it isn’t necessarily so simple. There are ways that someone could use to see what you are doing online and take action based on what you did. These methods would require at least one of three things. Either a keylogger that can track everything you type into your computer (usually delivered via a virus or spyware), a page that has been hacked to capture your details or a phishing scam where someone creates a web page that looks like a legitimate domain registrar but is in fact a cleverly devised page to capture your domain name ideas.

How likely are any of these options? The best protection from a keylogger is to have a recently updated anti-virus program. Hacked websites are a little harder to be able to detect. It is also much more rare. While it is possible for you to land on a domain registrars website that has been hacked, it is unlikely. A close cousin to a hacked website is running into a well designed phishing scam. I am not aware of any phishing scam centered around the registration of domain names. This doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but I’m not aware of any such scams.

So how can you protect yourself for scam artists?

Visit sites that you can trust. Look for websites that don’t look like they have been thrown together by a child. Make sure you are protecting your computer with a good anti-virus program. Don’t click on links found in emails to go to a website, instead, type in the web address directly to reduce the chance of being fooled.

I counsel you to do your domain name brainstorming searches in peace. Know that stealing domain names is uncommon. If a domain you have identified as available gets registered between the time you do an availability search and the time you try to register it, it very well may be chalked up to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people registering domains worldwide at any given time. If the domain name you looked at was an especially good one, chances are someone else would think so too.

Preformulation and Formulation Development

Optimizing Conformational Stability and Biological ActivityMaintenance of the native three dimensional conformation is critical for the long term stability and biological activity of biotherapeutics. Biophysical characterization techniques such as circular dichroism, differential scanning calorimetry, FTIR, dynamic light scattering, and fluorescence spectroscopy provide a mechanism to assess the conformational and thermodynamic stability of proteins under a range of formulation conditions. These tools allow development scientists to differentiate various various buffer, pH, ionic strength, and excipient conditions, and identify the conditions that confer the optimum environment for the therapeutic protein.

Utilizing Advanced Statistical Design for Preformulation Development Preformulation development includes statistical design of experiments, allowing simultaneous evaluation of multiple factors and evaluation of interactions between factors. It is crucial to use advanced biophysical characterization techniques to evaluate the conformational stability of large molecules in addition to traditional methods for evaluation of chemical stability.

A large molecule preformulation development program typically includes the following activities:
Evaluate the effect of pH, buffer type, and ionic strength on solubility.
Evaluate the effect of various excipients on improving solubility if necessary.
Evaluate effects of pH, buffer type, and excipients on conformational stability.
Evaluate the effect of pH, buffers, excipients and ionic strength on physical and chemical stability.
Utilize a statistical design approach to identify the optimal conditions for structural, physical and chemical stability.
Perform forced degradation to elucidate product degradation pathways and to demonstrate the stability-indicating capacity of the analytical methods.
Forced degradation studies typically include restricted oxidation, deamidation, aggregation (via agitation), and / or acid / base hydrolysis.
Evaluation of heat stress, photo stress, and freeze thaw are also performed.

Looking for information on Analytical Development and other related resources?

Formulation Development for Numerous Dosage FormsFormulation development includes dosage forms for parenteral, oral topical and inhalation administration, including liquids, gels, suspensions, emulsions and lyophilized powders. Formulation scientists are highly skilled in the development of the dosage forms most relevant to biotherapeutics, with particular expertise in lyophilization and development of stable liquid formulations for proteins. High concentration antibody formulation development for subcutaneous administration requires particular emphasis on viscosity and tonicity. Lyophilization cycle development is performed in the context of the unique thermodynamic properties of the API to deliver an efficient, scalable, transferable process resulting in optimum product stability and reconfiguration characteristics. Formulation development capabilities also include:

Effect of excipients on solubility, tonicity, and viscosity Evaluation of antioxidant and conservative compatibility Container-closure compatibility Long term and accelerated stability studies.

Advantages of Formulation Development Approach. This outlined approach to preformulation and formulation development result in significant savings to the client by eliminating the variables associated with suboptimal formulations. Preclinical development efforts in PK, PD, ADME and toxicology occur with confidence that additional uncontrollable variables from unstable formulations are not introduced into the study. This benefit extends far into clinical trials as well, where assessment of toxicity, dosage levels and efficiency are substantially influenced by an optimal formulation that preserves the three dimensional conformation of the therapeutic protein. By eliminating uncontrolled stability variables, the focus is placed solely on the therapeutic performance and clinical outcome.