What comes to mind when one thinks of accounting? As answers flood the mind, our thoughts inevitably echo with terms synonymous to that of a book-keeper’s daily checklist. While many associate accountancy to a profession that leverages on rigidness, one organisation begs to oppose the tale old perception — TYMBA.
TYMBA, initially derived from the Malay phrase ‘timba ilmu’, is an education academy that aims to redefine professional accountancy by shaping ACCA students into Chartered Accountants through the exposure of real-life examples in their learning. To understand their strategy and philosophy, FLY’s Journalism Executive Umar and Nazif sat in to interview TYMBA’s Co-Founder: Airil Razali.
He noted that their syllabus allows students to heavily apply situational thinking throughout their course. Banking on the notion that Malaysian society is at a progress plateau, TYMBA strives to expand their graduates’ future prospects for the global market.
“In order for us to move forward, we need to upgrade our skills. As long as these skills are not being upgraded, you can see there is a mismatch between what is demanded by the industry and also the supply that we are able to give.”
What makes TYMBA different?
When asked how TYMBA distinguishes from similar institutions that offer ACCA programs, Airil highlighted that TYMBA aims to stray free from the shackles of bureaucracy practised in most institutions. He further elaborated that many institutions neglect important aspects of the students’ experience, particularly in nurturing students’ development in areas such as their communication skills, values, and critical thinking. The skills that TYMBA equips its students “makes us different”, he claims.
Before advancing into the market, Airil revealed that they had designed a ‘resilient ecosystem’ targeted to establish a network of accountants within the TYMBA community, consisting of students and alumni. Hence, they developed a mobile application for the TYMBA community to support one another in their shared field. As this platform opens the window to more exposure and a larger networking pool, Airil believes this sets TYMBA apart from other institutions.
When asked to provide his two cents on the rapid development in the tech scene and on the future of accounting, Airil responded with a chuckle. He then responded by quoting Chinese billionaire Jack Ma on his controversial take on computers’ incapacity to emulate human intelligence. According to Airil, software advancements can aid efficiency in operations, but they remain restricted and are limited from the ‘human touch’, which is a necessary component to the field. Routine work can be automated, but Airil was adamant that humans must be the ones to oversee and review. He added that technological advancements have definitely affected the accounting industry, and thus, suggested that it is of great importance for people to be open to any possibilities in the future.
Technology and the Future
Seamless information technology and remarkable innovations have changed the way we live, and especially the way we work. The same can be said for managerial work such as accounting and auditing. In the past, an accountant or risk analysts would considerably spend a large number of their productive hours on data entry. Organising, inputting and calculating figures. With modern systems which calculate and provide detailed analysis for us, what is left is to make prudent and fair judgements from the data available.
Airil emphasised the ability to understand how our systems such as cloud accounting and cloud computing actually work. When we recognise a software’s potential, only then would we be able to utilise the technology to its full capacity and truly ascertain where our value and contribution fit in parallel assisted by technology.
Adapting with Technology
On a comparison between machines and humans, Airil believes that computers will always be more effective and efficient as they do not get tired. They are not restricted by physical human limitations such as fatigue and emotional stress. However, he retorts that machines will never be smarter than humans. In the context of the accounting field, computers will definitely replace people in data entry and analysis. Fret not, accountants will not turn obsolete just yet.
Equipped with soft skills, emotional skills, interpersonal skills and especially the ability to adapt. A human worker who possesses these skills will be able to do far more than what a computer does. Certainly, an accountant’s job focus will change over time. From Airil’s point of view, he foresees that the upcoming changes would most likely be an inclusion and a larger focus on important human values mentioned above. This is particularly true when resolving a client’s issue.
“The system will help you to do the work but at the end of the day, in terms of the decision making, in terms of communication on the solutions, it still has to come from you.”
Essentially accounting is a language of business, how we receive, prepare and interpret the data would probably change.Yet at the end of the day, our goal still remains unchanged.
TYMBA: Ingredients for a Successful Future
Looking into the future, one of the exciting things Airil looks forward to is disruptors that change a market thoroughly. For example, new ecosystems that erupt to change business processes and services to meet the demands of the customer. To prepare their students to face a challenging market, TYMBA equips their students with Xero Cloud Accounting certification. This provides their students with basic accounting certifications and also advanced certifications according to the respective industry they intend to specialise in. Certifications, diplomas and degrees are no longer a limiting factor. In Airil’s opinion, what is most important is your skills and attitude.
“You are now living in a world of possibilities. Nothing is impossible and people don’t look into your certificate, people don’t look into your degree or diploma anymore.”
– Airil Razali
Moving forward there is much to expect and anticipate from TYMBA. Airil states that they are currently rolling out programs with the objective of producing accountants by the age of a whopping 19 and a half years old. Eventually, these students who follow TYMBA’s pipeline will be part of the youngest accountants in the country in the next couple of years.
Besides that, TYMBA plans to open up more satellite centres to give support to their students nationwide. Whilst also capitalising on technology and their online platform, TYMBA also inspires to focus on physical touch with their students. To achieve this, TYMBA plans to provide study spaces for students to prepare for their examinations as well as for special coaching sessions with the students.
On a final note, Airil leaves two pieces of advice for our readers, firstly, it is to never ask what you can get, but rather, always say what you can give. Such as the values and skills you are able to provide to complement current institutions. Secondly, always leave a good first impression because a good first impression will open more doors and opportunities.
The accounting field certainly has much to contribute to our changing society. With the help of institutions like TYMBA who equip their students with a diverse array of skills, we can be certain that as long as we adapt, we can greatly benefit from the wave of technological changes to come.
Reviewers: Hurriya Irfan, Jessie Gan
Journalists: Umar Zulkefli, Ahmad Nazif Helmi
Editor: Natalie Eng