External Auditor, CPA Firm

Chew Mianzi, 2002, 5Sc1

I didn’t start out as an accountant.
I blindly followed the trend that led pure science students to engineering,
and failed out of NUS (Computer Eng.).

My Journey

After Form 5, I went to F6 Physics stream in Sam Tet. The STPM syllabus was extremely challenging and I struggled to cope. It was thanks to fantastic friends, that I managed to fare decently. Unsure of what I was supposed to do next and since I came from the Physics stream, I naturally applied for ALL engineering courses in local universities and Singapore (yes, ALL sorts of engineering… electronic, chemical, mechanical, you name it…)

I never stopped to wonder if engineering
was really what I wanted to pursue.

In fact, I chose it because my dad told me that “it has a bright future”. I didn’t even know what an engineer does in real life. I merely thought that because my results were good enough, I should keep going in that natural path (from physics to engineering) so as to become a (guess what?!?) engineer in future. :roll:

I was fortunate to receive offers from both UPM (Computer & Communication Engineering) and NUS (Computer Engineering). I chose UPM because I didn’t think of studying overseas. I knew my family couldn’t afford it, especially since I had 3 younger sisters. But I quickly found that I hated the study environment as lecturers used BM as the teaching medium, even for technical modules. As my dislike grew, I decided to quit UPM and left for NUS.

Studying in Singapore was an eye-opener. It hit me like a ton of bricks, that I wasn’t as good as I thought academically. I struggled desperately with studies and was on the verge of dropping out due to failing grades. At one point my CGPA was <2.0. It was only then that I really started soul-searching.

For the first time, I asked myself questions like:
What do I really want in life?
What can I do?
What am I good at?

Failing so badly sunk me into depression. I doubted my abilities and lost confidence in myself. I was no longer the bright-eyed, sharp-tongued, hopeful teenager in Form 5.

Worse, I did not know how to get out of my situation. When I finally realized that there was no way I could graduate, and that I was wasting my parents’ money, I told myself that I needed to end this ordeal. And so after spending 2 precious years in Singapore, I withdrew from NUS, packed my bags and went home. It was one of the most humiliating and humbling experiences in my life.

I felt embarrassed, frustrated and lost.
I kept away from friends and relatives.

After spending half a year at home, still not knowing what I wanted to study, I decided to follow my dad’s advice to study accountancy. I enrolled myself at TARC for an accounting diploma and am currently still pursuing my ACCA qualification. I have since returned to Singapore and have been working here, as an external auditor for a year. I enjoy accounting a lot more and find it far more interesting than engineering because I get to see how the financial wheels behind a company turn.

Looking back,
I see how I ended up letting my dad make all the decisions for me
because I was too afraid to make any of my own.

He did the best he could, in his position, with his knowledge. But there is an “expiration date” on how long you can blame your parents for something. Your life is your responsibility. You have to make the choice and roll with what it brings.

The world is changing; what was best for our parent’s generation might not necessarily be best for our generation. The way to do well in this new world, is to pause, consider your strengths and interests and find out more before making decisions that will shape your future. There are so many possibilities out there, and they don’t necessarily have to fall neatly into the “doctor, engineer, lawyer” boxes!? ;)

This is the first time I’ve shared my experience in such detail. I do it because I have a sister who is currently in Form 5, and who is about to embark on her own journey. I do not want her to walk the same “冤枉路” that I treaded. I hope the same for all others in her year. Feel free to get in touch with us. Dig deep into your souls, ask yourself what you are interested in, what you are good at, before you decide how your future unfolds.

And most importantly, know that the future is YOURS.
You decide what shape it takes.



Click here to read about what I do as an auditor!

My accounting lecturer once told me

“Accountants are the most important people in corporations.
They can chop off the head and the tail of a company…
And that is what I will teach you in this course.”

Wall Street (and investors) determine a company’s performance and stock price by evaluating a company’s financial statements. Therefore, it is very important that an external party ensures that the company’s financial statements are true. That is what an external auditor does – he/she assures the public that financial statements prepared by a company are fairly stated and are free of material misstatement.

In my job, I produce an auditor’s report. I verify a company’s financial information by interviewing employees, conducting enquiries, inspecting and recomputing data to ensure that financial statements are fair and not misleading. My findings are entered into an audit file, and documented as an auditor’s report, which my boss reviews.

I enjoy this job because it gives me a bird’s eye view of how different companies are run. While performing audits, I get to travel and meet different people. Most importantly, like my lecturer said, I get to see how the financial backbone of a corporation is structured. For those of you who are ambitious, all CFO’s have an accountancy background. ;)

(Originally published on Sept 23, 2011)



  1. i am now undergoing my diploma accountancy in Politeknik Ungku Umar which is a government institute, for 3 yrs..after i graduated,i may pursue my degree by transferring credit hour which will shorter my degree studies from 4 yrs to 3 yrs. May i adopt your opinion on studying overseas, study advance diploma or degree or take ACCA paper which will better off my future? Thanks for your consideration.

  2. Hi Jia Ying,

    The question that you asked is also seem as when i was undergraduate few years ago. After Diploma in TARC, I’m also had some difficulties to choose the options whether studied Advance Diploma in Business Studies (Accounting) or Advance Diploma in Commerce (Financial Accounting cum ACCA) at TARC or degree in UTAR? Finally, I had chosen to continue my studied in degree at UTAR as my graduated university. Currently, I had worked in an Audit firm about 2 years.

    Basically, you need to know what is the differences between Advance Diploma in Business Studies (Accounting), Advance Diploma in Commerce (Financial Accounting cum ACCA) and degree first before you choose the option. Advance Diploma in Business Studies (Accounting) is provided a wide spectrum of knowledge and skills required for a career in accountancy and finance. It covers advanced level of accounting, auditing, strategic financial management, tax planning, strategic management, management information systems and other related areas. Upon successful completion of this Advance Diploma, it will have 9 papers exemption in ACCA. Advance Diploma in Commerce (Financial Accounting cum ACCA) is reinforces key subject areas in accounting. The Year 1 of the Advanced Diploma in Commerce (Financial Accounting) program incorporates the Internally Assessed ACCA Fundamentals (Skills Module) Program. After passing this program will gain exemptions from Fundamentals (Skills Module) of ACCA examinations. In Year 2 of the Advanced Diploma is prepared to sit for Professional Level of the ACCA examinations – Essential Papers in December and Option Papers in the following June. Upon successful completion of this Advanced Diploma, it can graduate with the Advanced Diploma in Commerce (Financial Accounting) and ACCA, and it can become a professional accountant after 3 years working experience. Both of this Advance Diploma programs will have study in oversea in the final semester and after graduated is equivalent to a Bachelor Degree but there is no word “Bachelor Degree” show in the certificate only. However, Degree course is same as Advance Diploma course, all the syllabus are the same, upon successful completion of degree, it will only have 9 papers exemption in ACCA, which is same as Advance Diploma in Business Studies (Accounting). The main difference between Advance Diploma and degree is the word “Bachelor of Commerce (HONS) Accounting”, this word will only show in the certificate after completion studied in degree course. Of course the Degree course is more expensive than Advance Diploma since Degree is studied in Universities whereas Advance Diploma is studied in colleges.

    I hope you can get the differences between advance diploma and degree after my info that I provided to you. From now, you need to think about what you want in future. If you think “maybe” you will not continue to study ACCA or you scare cannot finish your ACCA papers, then you can choose degree for your option because the degree certificate is more famous than advance diploma certificate since the degree certificate is come from university and has word “Bachelor of Commerce (HONS) Accounting” show in the certificate under your name.

    Before I end up, I hope you can choose the right way to continue your study.

    Best regards,
    Pui Sim

  3. hi there,
    i have one consideration here.
    i completed my advance diploma course.
    i am thinking of taking degree..
    yet, i dont want to go to uk for the 3 month degree program.
    so did i have any other degree option in malaysia
    thank you

    • Hi Gyne, I believe you are from TARC since you’ve mentioned that you have just completed your advance dip course. Have you completed your ACCA papers already? If you did, may i know what’s the reason you wanted a degree even you already have an ACCA qualification? I am not sure of other degree options but as far as i know, an ACCA grad is as good as a degree holder, unless you are thinking of doing a master degree/PhD down the road.

      On a side note, there’s a degree program offered by ACCA-Oxford Brookes University, UK. you can refer to the link below for more information



  4. Hi,there.
    I am currently a A Levels student and taking A levels accounting,Do you think that is a good choice to study ACCA after completing my A Levels instead of going to university? As I know that the fees of uni is very expensive and some of them guaranteed from uni could not find their job.How many exemption could I get after finish doing ALevels?How much do I have to pay for it?

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