CPAs must exit comfort zone

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am


Despite a slowdown in hiring in certain industries, recruitment among the Big Four and other large Hong Kong-based accountancy firms remains positive. According to insiders, there is always a need for accountants, whatever the economic climate, though the nature of the work may vary, depending on the economic environment.

In addition to meeting with education providers and employers, Jonathan Ng, deputy executive director at the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), says visitors to the Education & Careers Expo will be able to learn about the latest industry trends and career path options to help them to become qualified accountants.

Ng says the expo is a one-stop platform where students are able to identify courses that meet their needs.

'The expo also provides a valuable opportunity to meet face-to-face with HKICPA representatives so we can explain how our own courses can help them to become qualified CPAs,' he says. 'For example, we can explain how the HKICPA qualification programme is a comprehensive course that provides the knowledge and skills necessary to assume roles with greater responsibility.'

At the expo, Ng says the HKICPA will host a 'Moving Forward to a Successful Accountants Career' seminar presented by various industry professionals.

'Those who attend the seminar will be able to hear from experienced professionals about the type of skill sets employers are looking to hire, the work culture in different firms and employment trends in the industry,' says Ng, adding that the HKICPA will also host information-sharing sessions, manned by industry professionals during which visitors can ask questions.

Damian Yip, market director for Hong Kong with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), says that as a chartered accounting body, the group's obligation is to promote the science of management accounting.

'During the Education & Careers Expo, we will share with participants what management accounting is really about. We want to highlight how the designation can help in business, as well as the daily operations in different positions,' says Yip. 'Also, by promoting our qualifications and various training courses, we hope to show visitors how we can meet their training needs for career progression.'

Yip says the CIMA qualification moves beyond accounting. 'It is a qualification for nurturing future business leaders with strategic attributes acknowledged by employers to be the global quality standard in management accounting,' he says.

Access to the programme has been made easier through new joint diploma programmes with the Chinese University of Hong Kong's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Completion of a series of part-time programmes can lead to an accelerated entry to CIMA through a maximum of 11 out of 15 exemption papers.

To succeed in accounting, Yip recommends making a concerted effort to understand the current trends in the accounting and finance industry.

'Apart from bookkeeping and historical reporting, think about how financial data can help drive a business forward,' says Yip.

He adds that those in number-crunching and score-keeping functions, must beware of remaining in their comfort zone. 'Take a step forward to transform yourself into an analytical, constructive, insightful, convincing and influential business leader. In addition to finance and accounting skills, make an effort to boost skills on strategic awareness, business understanding, influencing and leadership skills,' says Yip.

Brenda Lam, head of learning and development at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), is another professional who believes the Education & Careers Expo provides participants with valuable access to information about the accounting sector.

'The expo is an informal setting where visitors can find out about the various ACCA qualification pathways for accounting and non-accounting students,' says Lam.

During the expo, Lam says visitors will also be able to learn about the wide variety of services and support mechanisms provided by ACCA to students. She says that through the ACCA programme, students learn the language of business. 'The ACCA qualification opens up a wealth of opportunities not only in the accounting field, but many other areas of business. Equipped with the ACCA qualification, professionals can specialise in tax or auditing, and they can also move into business management positions,' says Lam.

She adds that ACCA members are not only presented with discipline-specific training opportunities such as seminars, workshops and conferences, they are also exposed to cross-functional experiences that prepare them for the complex working environment. 'As the role of accounting professionals continues to evolve, those joining the sector need to be prepared to undertake business-advisory expertise and problem-solving roles,' says Lam.

In addition to Big Four and other accounting firms recruiting new talent, banks and financial organisations are also eager to hire graduates from the ACCA qualification programme, says Lam.

'The increasing importance of risk management, corporate governance and the demand for analytical skills is creating opportunities for qualified accountants,' says Lam, adding that emphasis on ethics, integrity and professionalism is part of a major core ACCA paper on the road to becoming a qualified accountant.