Banking and finance to face hiring challenges

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Hiring locals with the right skills is expected to remain a key challenge for employers in the accounting and finance sector.

A survey by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Malaysia revealed that the lack of talents is more evident in the public sector than the corporate sector.

Some 47% of the survey’s 399 respondents from the industry said hiring people with talents remains an issue as 64% of the respondents were from the public sector, while the remaining 36% were in the corporate sector.

Asean and Australia and New Zealand ACCA regional policy consultant Sharath Martin said, while top accounting and audit firms continue to receive overwhelming applications, some of the applicants could lack in talents besides education excellence.

“There is a lot of competition to get into the firms, sometimes the right people are not hired for the right jobs,” he told reporters yesterday.

Martin also said the corporate sector might need to relook at the working culture moving forward, as the current youths have specific reservations on the work culture.

“For example, in the past, people probably worked long hours, but today there has been a pullback by the current gene- ration because they want different things for their lifestyles.

“The corporate sector needs to relook at how they are engaging people and see what works,” he said.

According to the survey, regulatory changes is the second-most significant challenge, reflecting a strong concern at the organisational level of the possible effects of changes in government policies alluded to earlier.

“Interestingly, accountants and finance professionals in public practice indicate that they are more affected than their counterparts in the corporate sector.

“This may well be due to the need to advise their clients on adapting to such changes,” the survey stated.

It added that both public and corporate sectors are also concerned about rising operational costs with corporate sector respondents ranking it higher than public practice, due to more diversified costs.

Meanwhile, MIA CEO Dr Nurmazilah Mahzan (picture) said apart from technical skills, employers would like to hire people with critical thinking skills and the ability to solve problems.

“Besides the critical thin-king and problem-solving skills, employers want people who can communicate and are able to adapt to change,” she said.

According to Nurmazilah, a change in educational policies and blueprints are needed, from the banking and finance sectors’ viewpoint.

She said policymakers should look at a holistic mechanism to educate the young.

The survey also revealed that more than two-thirds of respondents believe the government’s economic and anti-corruption policies will drive the country’s business performance this year.

A weaker ringgit is also ranked equally important for growth, as it will influence export competitiveness and earnings of corporate companies.

A standout factor that could negatively affect businesses in 2019 is the rising cost of living and low growth in wages.

“The median wages of foreign workers are generally lower than locals, especially in mid-skilled jobs, where 60.8% are employed.

“This pressure on wage growth is further evidenced by Bank Negara Malaysia’s study on the living wage, where up to 27% of households in Kuala Lumpur are earning below the living wage in 2016,” the report read.