Accountants are no longer just number crunchers…


PETALING JAYA: There is a common perception that accountants are all about numbers — the people who balance the accounts and so on — but that is not the case these days, says Irene Teng, Managing Director of Global Markets​ at The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (The Association).

“Accounts now is borderless and it is actually about the business,” Irene Teng informs Weekly-Echo during a recent interview.

The role of accountants have expanded and as finance professionals these days, they can be great navigators for businesses, says Irene Teng, Managing Director of Global Markets​ at The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

“No organisations can survive and strive without knowing the numbers (but) the numbers here is not just knowing the balancing or how much profits you make at the end of the year. It is also about the potentials for growth, the opportunities and the new things that we can do to capture new markets segment (and) to be able to contribute more to the society, to make the impact.”

With the right mind set, accountants can be the great navigators for businesses, working side by side with industry leaders to navigate businesses in a such a way that they benefit society as a whole, says Irene, who currently leads the global market teams of The Association, which combines The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Speaking to Irene, one may find out that whatever lingering old-school perceptions one might have had of accountants being boring, bespectacled and interested only in numbers, such perceptions would have to be corrected and updated.

A people person, Irene’s appointment as CIMA’s Regional Director of Southeast Asia and Australiasia in 2010 saw a significant growth of CGMA candidates over a four-year period while inroads were made into new markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. Her success continued as she was made Regional Director of Asia Pacific in 2015 and Managing Director for Europe, Africa and Asia, in 2016.

Irene, who holds an MBA from University of Leicester UK, leads the global market teams to spearhead the growth of The Association while supporting work to drive the Management Accounting profile and the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) reputation. Among other responsibilities, she also drives the acquisition of CGMA candidates and spearheads the professional development of members through continuous learning.

These include adopting and being equipped with the latest digital knowledge of accounting systems. These adoption of digital knowledge also greatly contributed towards accountants handling the lockdown periods, Irene said.

With such monumental tasks, how does she do it?

Being a woman and multitasking in the new norm is not really new, she says.

“The world is always in a constant change and we need to realise that this change is happening faster than ever. Each one of us need to have multitasking ability because it promotes flexibility and agility, to help us women manage the rapid change that happen around us, both at work and in our personal life. Women should not be afraid of surviving in the new norm.

“We have always embraced and adapted to change. Even before COVID, change has taken place. Look at how we lead our lives today. It is very much shaped by technology advances. Without even knowing it, we are already in the new norm of mobile technology, social media, virtual learning etc.”

Although the term new norm is being used now due to the drastic changes that COVID-19 made in our lives, in reality, we have always been living in the new norm as we adapt to changes daily, Irene opined.

Asked on how she chilled out? The bright-eyed lady says she loves chocolates, television crime and medical series.  

Asked on where she would head if once travelling becomes possible, Irene said she would start with all the Malaysian states known for their food haven like Penang and Melaka.

“I will get to enjoy the food, the long travels and best of all in the company of my family and loved ones.”