Rufus Tan, journalist

After almost two decades working in Hong Kong, Edmund Lee decided in 2020 that it was time to take on a new challenge in Singapore.

With his internal move to the role of market leader of integrated services company TMF Singapore & Malaysia proving successful, he then went a step further. Having amassed a wealth of experience at TMF, and before that at KPMG, Lee seized the opportunity to channel it all into Singapore-based corporate solutions provider, InCorp Global, bringing it to its next stage of development.

‘I am the captain and fully responsible for steering the ship’

‘Taking on this job at InCorp was the logical next step for me,’ says Lee, who became InCorp group CEO in 2022. ‘Despite enjoying senior positions in my previous companies, I was still reporting to Group HQ. In a way, it felt like a small sandbox compared to my current role, where I am the captain and fully responsible for steering the ship.’

Front row

Throughout his career – from auditor at KPMG to CEO of a global company offering corporate advisory services – Lee has had a front-row view of the changing face of the accountancy profession.

He says: ‘Every year, we see new and more complex compliance requirements or accounting standards. We are also seeing more sensitive political situations around the world. All of these developments have made it harder to ensure that businesses are doing the right thing.

‘It is challenging, but it also gives us many opportunities. This is after all our raison d’être, and it’s a chance for us to value-add for our clients, by helping them safely navigate these complex matters in the multiple jurisdictions we operate in.’

‘People said Excel was going to be the death of accountants’

He recognises that individuals face challenges too, with many in the profession fearing job losses due to digital transformation and emerging technology tools such as AI and ChatGPT. He adds, though, that it’s a threat that has been seen off before. ‘People said Excel was going to be the death of accountants. Thirty years on, the profession is just as in demand as it ever was.

‘What is really happening is that technology is getting better at handling more routine and transactional matters. I think that’s a good thing, because it frees up our time from routine matters, allowing us to focus more on how we can add value, differentiate ourselves and stay relevant.’

InCorp Global

Key Asia Pacific locations: Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam

Number of employees

Number of accounting and tax clients

The vision

Unpacking the meaning of InCorp’s motto of ‘Vision to Reality’, Lee says it is rooted in a desire to help clients focus on their business ideas and key competencies, while InCorp takes care of back-office affairs.

‘Through our 1,200 staff in eight countries and our network of member firms across the globe [InCorp is part of the PrimeGlobal network], our value proposition is that instead of a client having to work with multiple corporate services partners in different markets, our clients can engage InCorp Global to enjoy seamless coordinated service across all the multiple jurisdictions in which we operate.’

‘Our clients benefit from the collective experience of all our people’


Group CEO, InCorp Global, Singapore

Market leader Singapore & Malaysia, managing director Singapore, TMF Group

Sub-regional director, North & East Asia, TMF Group

Senior manager, department head corporate audit, KPMG China, Hong Kong

That is why, he says, one of the things he has been focusing on since arriving is to ensure alignment across all of InCorp’s markets. ‘It is important that the same high level of service our clients enjoy in any particular country is unified across all our jurisdictions.’

Lee subscribes to the philosophy that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our clients. ‘At our heart, we are a service company, so people really are our greatest asset. Even though InCorp has only been around for eight years, our clients benefit from the collective experience of all our people.’

Global outlook

He attributes his own success to a global outlook formed by working in multiple different countries, including the UK, the US, Hong Kong SAR and the UAE.

‘Working in so many different jurisdictions has improved my appreciation for multicultural diversity, different viewpoints and cultural nuances. In this age of globalisation, these experiences have really helped me in better understanding and serving my clients’ needs.’

Being an ACCA member has also helped. ‘People everywhere readily recognise the qualification,’ he says. ‘As opposed to being tied to just one country body, ACCA enjoys recognition with 181 countries worldwide. I’m not sure which other professional body has that kind of reach.’

He pays tribute to the rigours of the ACCA qualification in equipping him with the skills and mindset to succeed. ‘ACCA provides a kind of street-smart. I pursued ACCA while holding onto a full-time job, and even though it was challenging, I think it gave me a chance to put a lot of what I was learning straight into practice.’

Opening doors

Looking back, Lee is confident that his choice of accountancy has opened many doors for him. Young professionals striving to achieve their career goals may not have chosen the easiest profession, he says, but they have certainly chosen one of the most exciting and dynamic ones.

‘It’s up to you to seize opportunities and make the most of them’

He explains: ‘Finance is the language of business and it’s the foundation of understanding everything else that’s going on in a business. There are so many paths you can choose, and it’s up to you to seize opportunities and make the most of them.

‘ACCA can provide you with the tools, but the next step is up to you. As an accountant, I’ve never felt pigeonholed, and have been able to pursue all the opportunities that have come my way. Whether your goal is to be a professional auditor, an in-house accountant or even someone in senior strategic management, I believe that it is within your reach.’