In January 2019, the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) jointly released the Business and Economic Outlook (BEO) Report 2019.

Subsequently, MIA and ACCA organised follow-up roundtables with chief financial officers (CFOs) and accountants in public practice respectively to gather more data and insights for further action. The findings of these roundtables have been documented in the CFO Roundtable on BEO Report 2019 and the Practitioners’ Roundtable on BEO Report 2019.

Key Findings from the CFO Roundtable on BEO Report 2019

In summary, CFOs called for:

  • Raising productivity through increasing investment in human capital and technology at organisational level, supported by targeted tax incentives and laser-focused policy-making/implementation at government level.
  • Wage reforms to stimulate domestic demand and consumption to offset global headwinds including decelerating global trade.
  • Greater regional and global participation focusing on ASEAN and the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Bridging the talent gap by broadening the talent base, increasing the focus on technical and vocational education training (TVET), and continuous upskilling and reskilling for the Malaysian workforce, funded by tax incentives and subsidies.
  • Embracing digitalisation by adopting better organisational data practices; finance function transformation to support the overall strategic business model; upskilling talent; promoting culture change and buy-in for the digital agenda; and ensuring inclusivity for digital native talent. As changemakers, regulators should advocate for finance function transformation with executive decision makers and Boards, while government should reengineer education and training syllabi to produce fit-for-digital talent.

Key Findings from Practitioners’ Roundtable on BEO Report 2019

In summary, practitioners called for:

  • Renewed focus on areas of judgement in financial statements and audits, especially those involving asset valuation and long-term cash flow projection. This could conceivably be achieved through heightening professional skepticism; keeping abreast of regulations and standards and communicating and clarifying these to clients; reviewing internal processes and controls related to areas of judgement; collaborating with experts in auditing processes, and integrating technologies to support tech transformation e.g. cloud-based auditing.
  • Leveraging opportunities to scale up and combine resources and expertise through mergers and acquisitions, and extending accounting and finance competencies to SMEs lacking an internal finance function.
  • Harnessing emerging opportunities across ASEAN by replicating firms’ service offerings in regional markets and leveraging on Malaysian firms’ competencies and English proficiencies, supported by increased intra-ASEAN efforts to improve talent mobility in the professional services sector.
  • Operationalising talent management strategies, via transforming or outsourcing the internal human resource function, adapting to millennial work culture, offering flexible work arrangements, piloting two-way mentorship programmes, offering longer training contracts and empowering younger employees to help transform the firm’s culture and operations.
  • Greater technology adoption and automation of service offerings supported by government subsidies for adoption of accounting and auditing-specific technologies.


“These reports are firsts for MIA that build on the earlier BEO Report 2019. In line with our nation-building agenda, MIA is making continuous effort to help improve the performance and governance of business and government,” said MIA CEO Dr. Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan.

“CFOs and public practitioners are key advisors to business and government who are keenly aware of the latest developments and unfolding issues in the market. By tapping their wisdom, MIA trusts that these reports will help provide the insights for private and public sector organisations to inform their policy making and implementation, to help shape sustainable and forward-looking policy and implementation initiatives to build the nation,” she added.

Edward Ling, ACCA Malaysia Country Head concluded, “It is our hope that CFOs and practitioners would find these reports relevant and consider incorporating the action points into their strategic plans to help shape the present and future success of their businesses from within.”

The Business and Economic Outlook (BEO) Report 2019 is free to download:

The CFO Roundtable on BEO Report 2019

The Practitioners’ Roundtable on BEO Report 2019’s%E2%80%99_Roundtable_On_Business_And_Economic_Outlook_2019_Report.pdf.

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