By Low Zi Lin
Lee Bing Yi is a Director at PwC Singapore’s Financial Services Assurance practice. He is also part of the firm’s Sustainability and Climate Change team and leads its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) solutions for the financial services sector. He specialises in sustainability assurance, strategy, climate risk management and reporting. In this article, he sheds light on his professional growth and what it means to take charge of one’s career.
Currently, I have two main roles: the role as a public accountant, and as a sustainability practitioner.
As a public accountant, I sign off on audit reports of companies whose financial statements have been audited by my team and I. This comes with the responsibility of making sure that our client’s management team has presented a true and fair view of their company’s financial performance and position so that stakeholders can place their trust in those information.
Beyond financial statements, I also provide assurance services to my clients on subject matters such as internal controls design and operating effectiveness, and regulatory compliance. I’ve also been part of financial due diligence projects for merger and acquisition transactions, enabling clients to make more informed acquisition decisions.
As a sustainability practitioner, the scope of my work covers a wide range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters and is quite different. In this role, I support organisations’ sustainability transformation journey, focusing on sustainable financing, reporting, decarbonisation, climate risk assessments as well as sustainability strategy and roadmapping.
As the engagement team leader for statutory audits, I guide my teams throughout the entire audit process, from planning the audit to executing the fieldwork, checking in on their progress regularly, and addressing issues along the way. In this role, I also focus on client engagements and networking to establish and maintain relationships with clients. This includes communicating with them on their audit status and matters, and discussing other topical industry issues that are relevant to them.
Another area of focus is around capability building. As regulations and financial reporting standards are constantly evolving, there is a need to continually upskill. There are also Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements to maintain my status as a Registered Public Accountant. I therefore spend a fair amount of time attending and instructing training programmes within PwC as well.
As a sustainability practitioner, I work closely with different stakeholders in the sustainability ecosystem. I speak regularly at sustainability related events and conferences, and my team and I also devote our time to conducting industry research and producing thought leadership publications, which I believe are important for us to stay connected and relevant given the speed at which the sustainability landscape is evolving.
Outside of work, I spend quite a bit of time doing my own “homework”, catching up on the latest news and developments to see how I can add value to my client engagements.
I believe it is important to take ownership of one’s own career, making it a point to constantly seek out areas of growth and opportunities. Having this mindset has enabled me to take on a wide range of assignments throughout my career which broadened my skill sets and kept me energised at work.
Beyond that, it’s important to explore and gain exposure to other interest areas. I am thankful for supportive leaders who gave me opportunities to do that. As a result, my work at PwC has been dynamic and progressive as I could take on new responsibilities every year. Of course, we must work hard to earn good opportunities as well. I believe that if we put in the effort to deliver quality results, eventually, we will be able to build rapport with our colleagues, which could open the doors to new growth opportunities and experiences.
I have two key guiding principles. The first principle is to focus on people. As the nature of our work is team-based, service-centric and people-focused, how I manage relationships with my team plays a big part in determining the success of each engagement. This is also important as our clients appreciate business partners they can collaborate well with.
The second principle is to always strive for high quality in what we do. As a professional services firm, our clients and other stakeholders look to us to deliver sustained outcomes and build trust in their businesses. The quality of our work is non-negotiable and we must always do what is right.
Firstly, I have learnt that we should stay true to what we believe in, be it our values or what we are trying to accomplish in our career. Building a career can be a very long journey, and we should not lose sight of things that keep us going.
Secondly, it’s important to be open-minded about continuous learning and trying new things. Even though the learning curve may be steep, the incremental knowledge and experiences will be beneficial at the end of the day. Do not let the fear of failure hold you back from getting out of your comfort zone.
This could be reflective of the high employability of talent in the industry. The audit profession offers a good training ground with exposure to a wide range of businesses and clients within a short period of time. I find that this is a unique and valuable experience that not all jobs can offer.
Moreover, many fresh graduates in the audit profession go on to pursue their professional qualifications while gaining hands-on, on-the-job training. Understandably, this would enable them to explore more opportunities within the industry as they mature in their careers.
Have a keen interest in the industry! I have always been curious about the products and services of the financial services industry, which led me to pursue a second major in Banking and Finance in university. As I was certain that I wanted to specialise in financial services in my career, I made my intention clear to my prospective employers during the interview process and was offered to join the pioneer batch of Financial Services graduate programme in PwC Singapore back then.
While having strong technical knowledge is key, it also helps to have a good grasp of the industry and financial services products to better appreciate the issues your clients face and have more meaningful conversations with them on overcoming their challenges.
I also share more of my experience being in this profession and my life as an auditor in this video by the National Youth Council. Feel free to check it out.