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The Singapore Law Gazette

Opportunities for Lawyers and Accountants to Collaborate

With the rise of emerging economies in Asia, such as ASEAN, China and India, there are substantial growth opportunities in the region. In 2017, the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) Working Group on Legal & Accounting Services identified several high growth practice areas that straddled the legal, accounting and financial services industries, and released a set of recommendations to take advantage of these growth opportunities. One of these recommendations was to encourage law and accounting firms in Singapore to internationalize together so as to take advantage of the synergies between the two sectors.

The Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) and Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) alongside the Ministry of Law and Economic Development Board through the Professional Services Programme Office (PSPO), Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Accountancy Commission organised the Workshop on Joint Internationalization of Accountants and Lawyers on 20 August 2018. It aimed to bring accountants and lawyers together to discuss on the growth opportunities in the region, before delving into the areas and ways accountants and lawyers can work together to capture more regional work.

The Workshop

Discussion of Group A

Discussion of Group B

The Workshop on Joint Internationalization of Accountants and Lawyers invited six lawyers and six accountants, based on their professional background and experiences, to discuss and identify the markets and areas both sectors can collaborate and venture out together. They were split into two groups, each with a mix of lawyers, accountants and representatives from the mentioned government agencies, to create an environment for better discussion and dialogues between the participants.

The workshop comprised two exercises:

  • Exercise 1: To identity potential areas and markets where Legal and Accounting (L&A) firms can venture out together.
    1. Identify and rank areas of current capabilities and/ expertise.
    2. Identify and rank exportability of capabilities and/ expertise.
    3. Identify areas of demand in key regional markets.
    4. To combine inputs from both groups and identify the common areas/services identified.
  • Exercise 2: Based on the potential areas from identify in exercise 1, to identify (a) complementary services L&A firms can offer together, and (b) ways in which L&A firms can collaborate in the market.

Results from the Workshop

One of the boards from the workshop

Upon much discussion, the participants identified areas of strengths that were exportable and in demand in the region, common markets of interest, as well as areas where lawyers and accounts could work together. The following are the details of the findings:

  1. Areas of Strengths that were exportable and in demand in the region
    • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
    • Tax Advisory
    • Insolvency & Restructuring
    • Audit & Assurance
    • Due Diligence (Financial & Legal)
    • Start-up Fundraising (Deal Origination)
  2. Common markets of interest with specific areas of opportunity
    • Indonesia – Wealth Management, Infrastructure & Project Finance, Trade Industry, M&A for Singapore investments into Indonesia, E-Commerce
    • Malaysia – Wealth Management, IPO
    • Myanmar – Wealth Management, Project Finance, M&A, Training of Burmese Accounts, Modernisation of Burmese Law & Regulations
    • Vietnam – Wealth Management, Mediation & Arbitration, Internal Audit
    • China – Wealth Management, ICO Advisory, Financial Due Diligence, M&A for Chinese investments into Singapore
  3. Areas where lawyers and accountants could work together
    • M&A – Jointly offering services and marketing together, Sharing of Networks for Deal Origination
    • Wealth Management – Jointly offering services and marketing together, More Networking Opportunities with in-market Private Bankers and High-Net Worth Individuals
    • Corporate Structuring & Restructuring – Jointly offering services and marketing together

Feedback from the Workshop

The feedback from the participants was very positive. They were largely satisfied with the workshop and liked the opportunity to network with each other. They felt that the workshop increased their understanding of the work and expertise of their peers from different professions.

The participants also indicated that they are keen to continue exploring collaboration opportunities with their peers and ways to further collaborate with each other.

The workshop has provided much insights and clarity of how lawyers and accountants can collaborate in their efforts on international expansion. It has also provided LawSoc, ISCA and the agencies information on how to better support you, the lawyers, in your efforts of internationalization.

LawSoc will take into account these views when planning its regionalization activities for lawyers.

If there are any suggestions on other activities with accounts that might be useful (i.e. networking sessions), or if you are keen to participate in similar workshops in the future, please send us your feedback.

Executive Officer
Lawyers Go Global
The Law Society of Singapore