‘ACA’ – Beyond The Letters After Your Name

aca professionals chian tyng and ronald liaw

Many organisations around the world acknowledge chartered professionals as highly competent individuals who are dedicated to continuous professional development. Gaining a professional qualification not only requires considerable effort and discipline, it also requires lifelong dedication and perseverance.

The ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA) is a highly respected and globally recognised professional qualification in the field of finance, accounting and business. In fact, the ICAEW ACA was the launchpad for some of the most successful careers the business and finance industry has ever witnessed.

We recently spoke to two ICAEW ACA members from Malaysia, who shared their thoughts on how the ICAEW ACA qualification has helped them achieve their aspirations.

Related: Why More Than 150,000 Professionals Chose the ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA) Qualification


Insights from Beh Chian Tyng, ACA, Principal at Beh L. H. & Co. (13 Years’ Experience)

beh chian tyng portrait

1. How has your ICAEW qualification and experience helped you progress in your career?

I would say that you need to have a very strong foundation, good training and a lot of stamina to thrive in business and finance; and the road towards qualifying as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ICAEW ACA) certainly provides robust training in all three areas.

I was fortunate to be one of the first three A-level students in Kuala Lumpur to study for the ICAEW ACA qualification without a bachelor’s degree. At only 19 years old, I took up a professional position as an audit assistant in Folks DFK & Co while undertaking the ICAEW ACA papers. Juggling between full-time work and part-time studying required a huge amount of discipline and perseverance. Though I would occasionally find myself disheartened seeing my peers ‘having the time of their lives’, I constantly reminded myself why I had chosen this path in the first place, and that my hard work and sacrifice would all be worth it in the end.

It’s been a huge learning curve for me from the beginning, but I would not have traded my decision – as difficult as it was – for anything else. Ultimately, the ICAEW ACA experience has helped me mature into the person I am today – a well-equipped global citizen with the confidence and resilience to face any and all challenges that come my way.


2. How has the qualification expanded your networking circle in the industry?

The ICAEW ACA has enormously expanded my professional circle both directly and indirectly. Being an ICAEW member connects me with elite, world-class accountants in the industry. Indeed, there is an unspoken camaraderie between ICAEW members, knowing that we all overcame a common set of hurdles and challenges to obtain the qualification.

The opportunities presented to me as a chartered accountant also provided a rare and excellent platform for networking. While my time at the bank connected me with senior management leaders of several listed companies, I’ve also met and worked with many incredible people from various backgrounds and industries along the way. The experience and mentoring I’ve received from my bosses, peers and clients were truly priceless.


3. Any memorable moments from your ICAEW study days?

Two things come to mind: Waking up at 4.00am daily to revise before leaving for work, and studying at La Bodega with my study mates – with lots of beer and vino!

For me, it was the anxiety and excitement of getting my results online and seeing my name on the pass list that was most memorable, knowing that all my blood, sweat and tears (like, literally) were completely worth it.


Insights from Ronald Liaw, ACA, Assistant Manager, Treasury-Financial Risk Management at Malaysia Airlines Berhad (7 Years’ Experience)

ronald liaw portrait

1. Why did you choose to pursue the ICAEW ACA qualification?

What sets ICAEW apart from other professional accounting bodies is certainly their unwavering commitment to nurturing young talent.

I was convinced that the ICAEW ACA qualification is what I needed to succeed as a well-rounded business leader from my early engagements with the ICAEW Malaysia team. They have done a fantastic job in developing close partnerships with local universities, connecting students with fellow members and their incomparable network of business partners. These platforms have continuously provided students with the opportunities to expand their professional relationships and gain valuable insights from industry veterans.


2. How did your ICAEW knowledge and experience help kickstart your career?

I recall my mentor having once said, “If you think accountancy is just about balancing the books then you will just end up as a glorified bookkeeper; a chartered accountant should be able to add value to a business”. ICAEW ACA is geared towards training individuals to not only sharpen their technical competencies, but to also become strategic business thinkers. I remember being exposed to real-life business problems through the case study exam, where my friends and I engaged in intense discussions and debates, looking high and low for optimum solutions.

‘Qualifying as a chartered accountant opens up a world of opportunities’ is not just a marketing gimmick by ICAEW. It is consistently put to the test and – and I can attest to that. Having qualified and returned to Malaysia in 2016, I joined the Malaysia Airlines Treasury team to oversee the management of the organisation’s financial hedging portfolio on fuel, forex and interest rate risk. I have the confidence that each and every ACA out there is able to apply the skills, knowledge and experience that we have intensively developed through our ICAEW ACA training.


3. What were the support and guidance you had received from ICAEW and your organisation during the early stages of your career?

Having practical work experience with an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer (ATE) as one of the requirements for ACA makes perfect sense; it encourages you to apply classroom knowledge at work and it makes learning especially worthwhile and extremely fulfilling. It also acts as a good support system – as it did for me – for someone who is in the early stages of their career.

In addition, ethics is a core component of ICAEW ACA. The Institute, together with member firms, provide comprehensive ethical guidance and support, which hold us to the highest standards of professional conduct and factor the importance of public interest for the good of society. This is very important for young professionals in my opinion, because the ethics component aids us in navigating the many ethical dilemmas of business landscapes and has had a positive impact on developing my sense of character.

Related: Your Pathway to Leadership: The 3 Entry Routes to ICAEW Certification 


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and completeness.


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