Chiu's miss shows men still at the helm

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


The fact that men still dominate the business world was underscored by the recent election for the president of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA).

Keith Pogson, managing partner of Asia-Pacific financial services at Ernst & Young, trumped frontrunner Susanna Chiu, director of Li & Fung Development (China).

That dashed hopes for the election of the HKICPA's first female president since its founding in 1973. Chiu was, however, re-elected as vice-president of the 22-member council.

Clement Chan Kam-wing, managing partner of BDO, was also elected as vice-president.

Gender-wise, the HKICPA now has slightly more female members than male ones.

To be sure, men still dominate the top ranks of Hong Kong's professional bodies, as well as the boards of listed companies. In most listed companies, just one or two directors are women.

The percentage of female directors stands at about 10 per cent, according to an estimate by the Hong Kong Institute of Directors. Female chairwomen of listed companies or professional bodies remain a rare breed.

White Collar wants the city's working womenfolk to work harder to change that in the future. Ms Chiu, we are pinning our hopes on you for next year!

With more female accountants joining the profession nowadays, Pogson said he was looking forward to seeing the HKICPA elect its first female president in the near future.

Pogson said that, as the new president, he would care for the interests of all members, both men and women.

The 41-year-old, whose age is the average of HKICPA's 33,000 members, will be a strong representative for the industry.

Pogson said he would be willing to listen to the opinions of all members and would work on projects that would help them in their professional training, as well as achieve a work-life balance.

Having lived in the city as a young boy with his father, then a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong, Pogson is well acquainted with the city. Indeed, his wife is a Chinese Hongkonger.

Educated in Britain, Pogson joined Ernst & Young in London before relocating to its Hong Kong office 16 years ago. He also spent four years in Beijing and learnt to speak some Putonghua.

Six years ago, Pogson was elected to the HKICPA's council, and became a vice-president last year.

The new HKICPA president faces a challenging task, as he needs to negotiate with the government on transferring the HKICPA's practice review powers to the Financial Reporting Council.

Currently, the HKICPA reviews members' adherence to professional standards and the quality of their auditing, but this has been criticised due to the conflicts of interests.

Independent bodies overseas usually conduct such reviews.

Lastly, Pogson needs to find a replacement for the HKICPA's chief executive, Winnie Cheung Chee-woon, who will retire early next year.