Body achieves watchdog goals
SINCE its foundation, the primary goals of Hongkong Society of Accountants (HKSA), were to establish a standards watchdog and ensure adequate training of members.
It has continued to address these issues during its 20-year history.
In July 1973, the newly formed society began issuing council statements which laid down the standards to be met by all members.
These continued to be issued until January 1984 when they were replaced by members' handbooks which are now issued in three volumes and lay down standards and guidelines regarding ethics, accounting and auditing.
On the training side, in July 1973 the HKSA organised its first revision course for students to help them prepare for examinations, which were held in October of that year.
The revision course was hastily organised, but in looking to the long term, the first formal Continuing Professional Education (CPE) course began in February 1974.
In the following three years the HKSA went international.
In 1975 it became a member of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC).
In 1976 it hosted the eighth conference of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants (CAPA), at which the confederation's constitution was adopted, and in 1977 the society became a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
In 1981 the council issued its first long-range plan report, defining strategy for the next five or six years.
The second report was issued at the end of 1987; the third is being prepared.
In 1982, the training of accountants took a leap forward when a joint examination scheme with the Chartered Association of Certified Accounts began.
An agreement was signed last year to continue the joint scheme for another 10 years.
In 1985, the first of many formal links with China was made following the society's first official visit to China.
The following year, the first joint conference organised by the Accounting Society of China (ASC) and the HKSA was held, and at the same time the ASC/HKSA Liaison Group was formed.
A professional standards monitoring committee was formed in 1988 - few countries have such a committee and Hongkong is a leader in this field.
The accounting profession gained political recognition when the accountancy functional constituency was announced, also in 1988.
The society launched a free advisory scheme on accounting and related matters to members of the public in 1990.
Meanwhile the number of members passed the 5,000 and, due to the increased workload and expanded services, in 1991 the society bought additional office space in Belgian House. It had already purchased one floor in the same building in 1983.
Last year the landmark Professional Accountants Bill 1991 was passed, enabling the society to conduct practice reviews, checking the auditing standards of individual firms.
The first practice review visit was in September last year and, despite initial adverse reaction to the scheme, it has now been accepted by the Society's members.
In October, the society was elected to the council of the IFAC.