Keeping industry abreast of change

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am

The need to keep abreast of changes is voluntary for some professions; for others, staying ahead of the curve is mandatory.

Continuing professional development is one of the services provided by the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants (more commonly known as CPA Australia), to its members and to the public.

Each year accountants have to complete a number of continuing professional development hours.

The institution serves professional accounting bodies but, to be registered, accountants have to pass the CPA Australia exam. Then an accountant will be qualified to be registered under the association as a CPA Australia certified public accountant.

CPA Australia is the largest professional business body in Australia and the sixth-largest such body in the world, with a membership of more than 108,000 finance, accounting and business professionals worldwide.

Hong Kong has about 9,000 members in CPA Australia Hong Kong China Division.

The company's history stretches back more than a century and includes a presence in Asia for the past 50 years.

The organisation caters for members in China by offering continuing professional development training in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as Macau. The top five industries where members work are: finance and banking, business services, manufacturing, wholesale/retail trade and financial services.

Richard Ho, chairman of the continuing professional development committee, CPA Australia, Hong Kong China Division, and vice-president and a partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, sees a thirst for China-focused topics.

'Hong Kong's industries have grown rapidly since the recovery of the Hong Kong economy and the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) with the mainland. Many mainland enterprises are setting up businesses in Hong Kong following the Cepa agreement.

'China's accession to the WTO, FTA [free trade agreement] negotiations with Australia and other countries and devaluation of the yuan mean demand for China-related topics is increasing by the day.'

But it is not just interesting facets of local trade that concern Mr Ho.

'The reputation of the profession has been harmed to some extent due to the corporate scandals in the past 10 years.

'To combat that negative, over the past three years local and foreign professional bodies have been working hard to rebuild public trust. As such, there is an increasing demand for qualified accountants who have good knowledge of compliance and internal control, and a solid understanding of the Hong Kong/China market and international accounting standards.

'Thus the demand for training in Hong Kong, with China-focused topics in particular, has increased.'

A notable feature is the provision by CPA Australia of a workshop called 'SME business coaching series - business management with NLP'.

The workshop, organised by the small and medium-sized enterprises committee of CPA, helps improve people's performance at work and creates choices in the workplace through Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP is a methodology that provides an understanding of human experience, communication and behaviour.

While it is common for firms involved in the training of professionals to claim to take in a wide spectrum of activities with a view to giving a full educational programme, the involvement of NLP to help the individual come to terms with the real human working environment is a worthy pursuit.

The CPA programme offers the skills required to take on roles such as chief executive, chief financial officer or a partner in a large accounting firm.