Driving business success

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am


For more than 50 years, CPA Australia has contributed to Hong Kong's business and economic success. CPA Australia celebrates its 125th anniversary this year and unites a global network of accounting and finance professionals in driving business success.

With more than 132,000 members in 111 countries, CPA Australia is one of the world's leading professional accountancy organisations. There are more than 13,000 members based in Hong Kong and the mainland, making it one of Hong Kong's largest international professional bodies.

'CPA Australia's involvement in Hong Kong began in the 1950s, as Hong Kong's accounting profession was still developing,' says Lawrence Fok, president - Greater China, CPA Australia. 'International accounting bodies played a significant role in nurturing professional accountants and developing the local industry.

'Our initial aims were to train graduates to become accountants and business leaders to serve Hong Kong's business needs. Many of our members have since become successful partners of accounting firms, senior executives of listed corporations, entrepreneurs and businessmen contributing to Hong Kong's success.'

The past decade has seen a rapid increase in the number of CPA Australia's members working in the mainland. CPA Australia opened offices in Beijing in 2002 and Shanghai in 2006. In partnership with the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA), it has been training accountants in the mainland.

In 2007, CPA Australia launched the International Partnership Program to offer outstanding CICPA members the opportunity to attend an intensive education programme in Australia. Upon completion, participants are awarded the Australian CPA qualification.

The international recognition of CPA Australia's CPA qualification creates a high demand for its members. Two-thirds are employed in businesses such as international corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises. The remaining members work in charity, academia and the government. Members are also found at all managerial levels with the most experienced holding positions such as CEO, chief financial officer, general manager or financial controller.

'We provide thought leadership to the profession and the business community,' Fok says. These include submissions to the Inland Revenue Department on taxation matters and to the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants on issues related to accounting standards, and on Hong Kong's business and economic development issues as outlined in the government's policy addresses.

As part of its drive to equip the profession and the community to manage volatile markets, CPA Australia will host the CPA Congress in Hong Kong on October 14. The forum presents a platform for professionals to learn from international experts in finance, accounting and business, and provides an invaluable networking opportunity.

This year's theme is 'Strength through Experience'. Nineteen speakers will discuss the global economic outlook and explore opportunities and challenges in the mainland and Hong Kong.

In addition to hearing from keynote speakers, participants in the CPA Congress can take part in two forums where they can hear the views of regional business leaders. The first forum, 'Surviving the new global economy', looks at the strategies needed by businesses to maintain growth and sustainability in an ever-changing economy.

Forum chair Dr Sebastian Bombaci describes some of the changes expected in the global economy.

The financial sector can expect greater regulation and the separation of retail banking from investment banking. Developed nations will continue to restructure their economies to deal with ageing populations and depreciating currencies. Meanwhile, China will drive growth in the Asian region and Chinese companies will increase acquisitions of foreign companies around the world.

The second forum, 'China - a new model?', focuses on the mainland's future as it delivers its 12th five-year plan. The speakers will focus on topics such as how China can reinvent itself into an innovation-based economy.

The congress will also discuss issues related to the accounting profession. According to Paul Chan, the legislative councillor for accountancy and a speaker at the congress, competition from mainland auditing firms has intensified putting fee pressure on local Hong Kong firms.

Chan adds that while an increase in initial public offerings has benefited the larger auditing firms, small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) can find business opportunities by engaging in ancillary work, such as conducting internal control reviews for companies prior to their listings.

'SMPs must gear up for these opportunities,' he says. They can consider merging with like-minded firms to offer a wider range of services; forming alliances with local companies that specialise in other disciplines, or with mainland counterparts that can refer clients; or providing niche services, such as risk-management consulting and deal-making, he adds.