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Five minutes with Joshua Ong

Jul 24, 2020


Tell us about yourself

I started my career as an auditor in 1992, building my experiences from the audits of companies in a variety of industries, financial due diligence, IPO engagements till 2002 when the legacy firm of Arthur Andersen broke up. I joined a client as its CFO between 2002 to 2005 before the passion for professional work brought me back with Baker Tilly in 2006. In my personal life, there are three major milestones at approximately a decade interval; met my first girlfriend in 1984, we got married in 1996, and have our triplets in 2005.

Tell us about an accomplishment that shaped your career.

As a newly promoted audit senior in 1995, I was assigned my first cross border engagement as a project leader to perform financial due diligence on a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was interesting for me to learn about the different business practices in a country that is at its early stage of opening up to international investors. Also, I was assigned a team comprising Filipino and Vietnamese staff as the Vietnamese firm was newly set up and supported by the firm in the Philippines. The common methodology and staff training programmes adopted by all member firms globally made it possible for staff from different countries to work together seamlessly.

International trade and globalisation have resulted in intertwined regional and world economies. The collective strength of the network’s firms in the region is critical to tap opportunities that exist beyond the shore of one country.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in accounting?

Be willing to learn, Be patient

Academic education only provides the basic foundation and knowledge on the subject. I will encourage fresh graduates when working on engagements to understand the clients’ business activities, how business transactions are structured and the commercial rationales for those transactions. The issues faced during engagements and hours spent working on the solutions are part of the learning and development process. Though the learning curve may be steep at the start, the knowledge and experiences gained will certainly be useful as they progress in their careers.

Has there been anything positive you have witnessed/seen from the recent crisis?

In uncertain times and crisis that resulted in impacts that are unprecedented in many fronts, there are a load of opportunities for us to offer solutions as a multidisciplinary professional services firm.

We have seen a surge in companies looking for firms that deliver values and solutions instead of just a big brand name. Many mid-market companies needed help with financial and cash flow management or are looking for additional funding to survive the crisis. There are also companies struggling to meet their debt commitments and are in urgent need of help to reorganise their debt and capital structures.

How do you think Baker Tilly will need to adapt to the new world following COVID-19?

The lockdowns imposed by many countries globally as a measure to battle COVID-19 resulted in an unprecedented restriction on economic and physical activities. Naturally, businesses that require high touch or physical interactions are most hard hit. We’ve seen how those companies with operational processes that are manual and requiring physical documentation, have been crippled. The need to move towards a digital economy is made clear in this crisis. Companies will need to digitise their business processes and incorporating E-commerce platforms into their business models.

Baker Tilly needs to evaluate our preparedness and ability to operate in the digital economy; how our practice management system supports the execution and monitoring of our businesses digitally and if the various practices can operate without physical document and interactions. For the Assurance practice, the adoption of Global Focus certainly helped in ensuring that audit engagements continued to be performed during this period, and with the travel bans, cross borders engagements are also made possible as audit work papers can be transmitted and reviewed electronically.

Baker Tilly should also be ready to seize opportunities to provide solutions and support businesses with the shift towards the digital economy.

What opportunities are there for your firm in the next few years?We have geared up our capabilities to service and offer solutions to companies as they move towards digitalising their operations and E-commerce platforms.

We need to keep our fingers on the pulse to continuously understand business needs and to identify opportunities. We have geared up our capabilities to service and offer solutions to companies as they move towards digitalising their operations and E-commerce platforms. Our Assurance Group and the Governance and Risk Group have developed audit capabilities and risk management solutions for companies with cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms. Our Outsourcing Group has customised solutions to help mid-market companies digitise business processes at affordable costs.

Get to know us in five minutes

What makes Baker Tilly stand out from the rest? Our people and their commitment to having great relationships with their clients, and with each other.

We posed a set of questions to people across our network. What we got back gives us a glimpse into the different lives and perspectives of our global team members. From what they get up to outside of work, what inspires them and the best advice they've ever had - to the impact of COVID-19 on their firm and the outlook for the future.

Meet some of our Baker Tilly family in our short ‘Five minutes with...' series.


DISCLAIMER: All opinions, conclusions, or recommendations in this article are reasonably held by Baker Tilly at the time of compilation but are subject to change without notice to you. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents in this article, the information in this article is not designed to address any particular circumstance, individual or entity. Users should not act upon it without seeking professional advice relevant to the particular situation. We will not accept liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through reliance upon the information contained in this article.

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Joshua Ong
Managing Partner & Practice Leader | FCA (Singapore)
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