25th Anniversary Messages
From MR. STEPHEN HONG THUAN BOON
Leading up to Cheng & Co’s 25th Anniversary celebrations this year, Connection Online will be featuring a series of articles that shares the thoughts of our core partners on their time with the firm, their personal and professional development throughout their tenure and their hoped for the future.
This series focuses on Audit Partner of Cheng & Co, Mr. Stephen Hong Thuan Boon . When he joined Cheng & Co in 2012, it was a new episode in his career. Prior to this, he was an audit partner at another firm.
He knew Cheng & Co through an event organised by Aljeffri Dean Consortium with which Cheng & Co and his former company are network firms. He was impressed with Cheng & Co’s culture, value and mission and after observing the firm for some time, he was convinced that this is indeed his next career destination.
After joining Cheng & Co he headed the audit division the headquarters which, at the time, specialised in SME audit. He was subsequently offered to be a partner within the next two years. Stephen shares his thoughts on his time with Cheng & Co and what drives him to keep powering the firm towards achieving its Vision 2020, to become the Firm of the Future – the leading home grown international accounting firm.
25th Anniversary Messages
From Senior Executive Director
What are the key factors that motivate you to further your career and professional growth with Cheng & Co?
Cheng & Co has a clear Vision, Mission, good philosophy and values that drive every partner and staff towards strong commitment to achieve the firm’s goals. Every one here are working together very well with good team spirit and playing their part to support each other.
It is not easy with such a big group of partners. But I noticed that the key here is that everyone is treated with equality, transparency and fairness which is built into the values and system of the firm.
How much have you gained in professional and personal development throughout your tenure in Cheng & Co?
I used to be involved in the auditing of SMEs and did not have the opportunity to extend my professional skills to auditing Public Listed Companies. Around four years after joining Cheng & Co, due to personal reasons, I had to move to Johor Bahru and the management was very supportive of my decision and arranged my transfer to the Johor Bahru branch and I continued to head the audit team there and assist branch operations. With this new development, I had the opportunity to get involved with the audit of three Public Listed Companies. Currently I am the engagement partner of these three
companies which really helped enhance my professional skills and knowledge.
What are the areas that you feel Cheng & Co is different from other organisations?
I find that Cheng & Co is unlike a typical local firm with traditional ways of doing things. The firm continues to learn and grow while adopting many good management concepts and tools. Like we have the “Vision Tree” criteria for being a good leader which forms the basis of evaluating a person’s promotion to Manager or team leader. The Vision Tree criteria is 4Ep + 3M = 3P. 4Ep refers to Energy, Energiser, Edge and Execution with Passion. The 3Ms are Mobility, Multi skills and Multi-Tasking. A person with most of these qualities will achieve Prosperity, Prospects and Profit (rewards) which form the 3Ps.
The KPI scheme too is a good practice to reward staff with fairness and transparency.
All these factors are important contributors to the growth and expansion of the firm we are not a “one man show”, with a large workforce and wide spread office locations. If we would have followed the traditional management path, we would not have achieved all this.
What areas do you feel require further improvements?
Cheng & Co has offices and network located all over Malaysia, but more enhancement is needed on the cooperation mechanism between branches and Headquarters to achieve greater levels of efficiency. This can be achieved via specific information technological systems and cloud solutions.
What development plans do you have for your division in the future?
One of the main challenges of public practice is high staff turnover. Many accounting graduates often leave after gaining roughly three years of working experience which is among the basic requirements of becoming a qualified chartered accountant in Malaysia.
We will keep improving our recruitment, retention, training and rewarding mechanism to bring elevate more of our middle level senior staff to cope with our growing pace.
Other than that, automation and artificial intelligence are the areas that we should study and explore to enhance the efficiency of the operations with optimal head counts.
As a partner and director in Cheng & Co Group, what advice do you have for managers, young employees and newcomers to the firm?
The younger generation should not be afraid to take charge and to initiate action. Learning from handling more assignments will sharpen your knowledge, the benefits of which they may not see now but will do so when it generates unexpected rewards in the future.
Malaysia SST 2.0 –
The things that you should take note
1. Threshold for registration
The threshold for mandatory registration for SST 2.0 has been standardised to an RM500,000 turnover over 12 months (with exception to restaurants (the threshold is RM1,500,000) and Customs Agent (the threshold is Nil)). Under the old SST, the threshold for sales tax was RM100,000 while the service tax had a few categories of threshold. Examples are for professional services there was nil threshold. For other taxable services such as restaurants there was a threshold of RM150,000 and for those outside hotels, it was RM3,000,000.
2. Exemption facilities under SST 2.0
The SST 2.0 has widened the tax exemption net to cover more goods compared to the old SST and GST which intended to relieve the cost of living of the community. According to the Ministry of Finance, under GST, around 60% of the goods in the Consumer Price Index basket were taxable but under SST 2.0 only 38% of the goods are taxable. Other than the exemption on goods, under SST 2.0 for registered manufacturers who are purchasing materials or
components from another registered manufacturer or via importation, they can apply for exemption online and this includes other types of approval. This has helped reduce a number of red tapes compared to the old SST where manual application was required and reporting was needed on a regular basis.
Impact on pricing
The main concern on SST 2.0 is its impact on pricing. Will it really benefit people? Will they enjoy savings? Based on forecasts earlier, the budget for GST collection for 2018 was supposed to be RM 4.3 billion but now that GST has been abolished, the Ministry of Finance has forecasted that the SST 2.0 revenue will be around RM2.3 billion. The figures hinted that the amount of the reduction which is about RM2 billion will go back into consumers’ pockets.
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