TITLE: Inaugural Survey of Accountants Predicts Government’s Economic and Anti-Corruption Policies Will Drive Malaysia’s 2019 Business Performance

DATE: 29/01/2019

(L – R): Tuan Haji Sudirman Masduki, Registrar, MIA, Dr Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan, Chief Executive Officer, MIA, Dato’ Merina Abu Tahir, Chair, ACCA Malaysia Advisory Committee, YB Dr Radzi Jidin, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs Malaysia, , Salihin Abang, President, MIA, Dato’ Lock Peng Kuan, ACCA Council Member, Hishamuddin Jalil, Head of Strategic Partnership, ACCA Malaysia.

Survey shares perspectives of accountants as a key interest group within the Malaysian business ecosystem, and supports informed decision and policy making in the interests of nation building.

Positive Domestic Drivers. More than two-thirds of respondents to the inaugural joint Business and Economic Outlook 2019 Report released jointly by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Malaysia ranked government policies in addressing economic issues and combating corruption as the primary driver of Malaysia’s business performance in 2019.

The survey respondents also singled out Malaysia’s economic growth, the weak ringgit vis-à-vis exports and buoyant consumer spending as other positive drivers for growth in 2019.

Factors Impeding Growth. 61% of respondents named the rising cost of living and low wage growth as the key factor obstructing growth. Other factors impeding growth include the negative impact of hefty government debt on public sector investment expenditure (43%), and the rationalisation of large public-private and infrastructure projects (28%).

Global Tailwinds and Headwinds. 34% of respondents cited ASEAN’s strong growth potential as a significant driver for 2019, and 53% of respondents opined that China’s Belt and Road Initiative would be positive for Malaysian businesses. On the downside, 27% of respondents are wary of the ongoing US-China trade war’s potential impact to Malaysian businesses, compounded by the slowing Chinese economy.

Challenges to Growth. 47% of respondents named hiring the right talent as the leading challenge, with respondents in public practice ranking this much higher (64%) compared to the corporate sector (36%). Regulatory changes (42%) ranked as the second most significant challenge, and rising operating costs and staff costs tied at third place (41%).

Crystal Ball Gazing. The survey also polled expected significant developments over the next five years. Unsurprisingly, technological disruption ranked highest, with 80% predicting that the digital revolution will transform businesses while 59% of respondents foresee increased automation and artificial intelligence affecting the business status quo.

About the Survey. A total of 399 accountants and finance professionals responded to the survey, which was conducted online between 23 November and 9 December 2018. More than three-quarters (78%) of the respondents hailed from the corporate and public practice sectors. Nearly 50% of respondents were from firms with over 300 employees, both listed or non-listed, and both top and middle management were well represented.

Part of a collaborative research initiative undertaken by MIA and ACCA, this inaugural report seeks to provide insights into the collective view of accountants and finance professionals on the business and economic outlook for Malaysia in 2019.

In his opening remarks at the official launch of the survey report on 29 January 2019, MIA President Encik Salihin Abang said, “This survey is the first of its kind that focuses on the perspectives of leading accountants or finance professionals on the economic landscape and critical factors impacting business performance in Malaysia. Our survey respondents comprise of key advisors and decision-makers”

Speaking from ACCA’s perspective, Chair, ACCA Malaysia Advisory Committee, Dato’ Merina Abu Tahir said, “Our vision is that this inaugural joint report will be the first of more to come, that it will eventually become “the go-to” annual business and economic outlook findings for the accounting and finance professionals in Malaysia. It is our hope that these resources will help support our accountants in their role as partners and advisors to their businesses, corporations and the government.”

Subsequently, in her presentation of the survey’s key findings, MIA CEO Dr. Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan expressed hope that the survey “will facilitate further discussion on the development of pragmatic solutions and strategies that will effectively address some of the challenges faced by businesses in this country.”

Officiating at the launch, guest of honour YB Dr Radzi Jidin Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs commended MIA and ACCA for “initiating this survey as a bellwether of the profession’s perspectives, because accountants and financial professionals are key stakeholders and decision-makers within the Malaysian business ecosystem.”

He thanked both bodies for expanding informed discourse on the economy, thereby facilitating nation building. “Surveys such as these are very useful for the Government, as they support informed and competent decision-making and policy-making, in line with the Government’s emphasis on Competency, Accountability and Transparency.”

The launch proceeded with a panel discussion on the survey findings and wrapped up with a media briefing.