Accounting body helps to relieve crisis pain
Beancounters were given some relief from the financial crisis over the weekend, with the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants announcing a HK$27.7 million aid programme.
All 30,000 members will be offered a one-off HK$380 rebate on their membership fees of HK$2,350 for this year, which will cost the accounting body HK$11.4 million. Those who can live without the rebate can choose to donate it to the institute's trust fund set up to help members in need.
On top of this, the institute will inject HK$3 million into the trust fund to bring its total to HK$4 million. It also plans to develop a series of training projects for members and accountancy students over the next two years.
In all, the new initiatives will cost about HK$12.2 million this year and HK$15.5 million next year. The institute has allayed fears that the programme could lead to an increase in fees by saying it will be paid for from reserves.
Accountancy firms have been suffering this year because of fewer merger deals and initial public offerings in the first half, cutting down on demand for their services.
The Big Four firms have all announced cost-control measures - PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte announced unpaid leave programmes, while Ernst & Young and KPMG offered partly paid leave, giving staff 20 per cent of their normal salary during the leave period.
For those accountants who have lost their jobs, the institute offers free or discounted training courses on fair-value accounting. As a perfect sign of the times, there is also a diploma course on insolvency and handling debt restructuring or liquidation of troubled companies.
Finally, there are refresher courses on writing job applications and interview skills to help people find employment. Two months ago, the institute set up an online recruitment site for jobseekers.
Positive on ETFs
This week's video guest is Thorsten Michalik of Deutsche Bank, who tells us about the six exchange-traded funds his company launched in Hong Kong last month.
Mr Michalik said Deutsche Bank was very positive about ETFs in Asia and believed Hong Kong and Singapore to be the best markets in which to list.