Keep it in the family
Hong Kong’s accounting industry has changed beyond all recognition over the last six decades. But for seven families something has remained consistent - their thirst for knowledge and their firm belief in the global value of the CPA Australia designation. Several generations of these families have worked as professional accountants, and been active CPA Australia members.
Robert Lee FCPA (Aust.), completed his studies for the Australian Society of Accountants (ASA), the forerunner of CPA Australia, in the 1960s. He went on to enjoy a distinguished career, and played a crucial role in CPA Australia’s development. Robert was one of 12 members who initiated the inaugural meeting of the Hong Kong Group in May 1968. He is a recipient of the CPA Australia Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the professional body, and to the accounting profession as a whole. He became founding divisional president of the Hong Kong Branch Council when it was established in 1986. Robert and his fellow councillors have organised seminars and meetings, and provided knowledge exchange and networking platforms for professional accountants, since 1955. Robert also arranged for members with their families to participate in social and recreational activities including a Pool Side BBQ event at the Kowloon Cricket Club. His son Peter, FCPA (Aust.), was four at the time, and is the youngest person ever to participate in a CPA Australia event.
Peter Lee FCPA (Aust.), grew up and became the 2013 Divisional President of Greater China, CPA Australia. He is equally committed to ensuring the body continues to help its members. “As the Asia business world becomes increasingly competitive, it’s important for us to maintain our leadership position, and ensure our members boost their professional competitiveness,” says Peter, who is the Managing Director of Veco Invest (Asia).
Patrick Yeung FCPA (Aust.), and his son Eugene Yeung CPA (Aust.), work in different industry sectors. But they both feel their CPA Australia designation helps them make decisions. “I believe Eugene and I are good examples of how CPA Australia training prepares you to explore different career options,” says Patrick, Founder and Executive Chairman of Asian Capital Holdings Limited, a corporate finance specialist firm listed on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Patrick is a professional accountant with over 25 years of financial management experience, a past president of CPA Australia – Greater China, and former representative councillor of CPA Australia. He says that one advantage of CPA Australia is that its membership service activities constantly enable members to be exposed to and identify business opportunities in the mainland.
His son Eugene, a Senior Associate in the Hong Kong office of Mayer Brown JSM’s restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency (RBI) practice, is also a lawyer. He says that there are benefits to practicing both disciplines. Eugene introduced fellow students to CPA Australia at university. “Connection to CPA Australia is invaluable, because it gives students practical insights, as well as the opportunity to connect which can really give them a head start in their career,” says Eugene.
The late Ming-Kwong Yam, a member of the Australian Society of Accountants since 1964, motivated his family to become accountants, and also encouraged them to give back to society. His son, Ronald Yam FCPA (Aust.), the 2014 Divisional President of CPA Australia, Greater China, says that the activities he and his daughter are involved in as accountants, along with their active membership of CPA Australia, helped them to maintain a sense of responsibility to the community. “I have always felt it’s important to return something to the community,” says Ronald, a Partner with RSM Hong Kong, who uses his knowledge and experience to help charities and non-government organisations.
Ronald’s daughter, Alison Yam CPA (Aust.), is an accountant, and is currently a Senior Consultant at Deloitte Advisory. “As my father told me many times, we need to be professional and uphold integrity and honesty,” says Alison, who regularly joins in community activities with her firm, charities, and CPA Australia. She mentors youths, raises funds for food banks, volunteers at organic farms, and she also helps to promote environmental protection awareness. “I like to join colleagues, CPA Australia members and friends to help a variety of causes,” says Alison, Deputy Chairperson of the CPA Australia Young Achievers Committee, which consists of young CPA Australia members who share a goal of helping others in need.
Years working in the mainland as a Tax Partner have given Stephen Kwok-hung Lee FCPA (Aust.) plenty of opportunities to put his CPA Australia knowledge into practice. “I have served multinational companies including Australian and New Zealand clients,” says Lee, who, before his retirement, played a significant role in the development of Ernst & Young’s mainland practice. “Clients have the feeling that they are talking to someone from ‘home’, instead of a stranger,” says the Past President of CPA Australia - Greater China, and former member of the CPA Australia North China Committee and East & Central China Committee. “Obviously this was a natural result of my CPA Australia membership,” he says. Stephen’s daughter Irene Lee CPA (Aust.), gained an understanding of the industry from her father. Irene works as Senior Manager in the KMPG Global Transfer Pricing team in Hong Kong, and recalls that when she chose to switch from a focus on corporate tax, she turned to her dad for advice. “As an experienced professional accountant, he gave me insights into what transfer pricing was about, and the challenges I would face,” says Irene. “He was very supportive of my choice, and that gave me the confidence to take the next step.” Irene is also a member of the Young Achievers Committee, and regularly volunteers at a non-profit organisation which assists families with children who have cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Proud of the way his CPA Australia designation gives his clients confidence, Irving Luk FCPA (Aust.), principal of S. K. Luk & Co., is pleased that his children have earned their CPA Australia designations. His eldest daughter Alice Luk CPA (Aust.), is the Manager of the Corporate Finance Department in the family firm. Alice says the CPA Program helped her adjust from being a graduate to a professional. Younger sister Doris Luk CPA (Aust.), says her CPA Australia designation is invaluable in her work, which focuses on Hong Kong SME projects and subsidiaries of mainland enterprises. The youngest family member, Steven Luk CPA (Aust.), makes significant contributions to the firm’s internal appraisal and training. He also ensures that the firm is updated with the changes in financial reporting and auditing.
Marcellus Wong FCPA (Aust.), Senior Advisor, Tax Services, PwC, says that CPA Australia has helped facilitate new business for Hong Kong accountants in the mainland. “We have a close friendship with the Chinese Institute of CPAs,” says Marcellus, who served as the 2004 Divisional President of Greater China, CPA Australia. “CPA Australia has maintained a close collaborative relationship with the CICPA, HKICPA and the TIHK, and together we are able to work together to uphold the accounting standards in Greater China.”
Marcellus encouraged his son David Wong CPA (Aust.), Senior Consultant, PwC to gain his qualifications through CPA Australia, as he felt that international experience would help him find a niche. “David could learn about more than just auditing – you have to learn more skills to survive in this industry,” Marcellus says. David was encouraged to become an accountant by watching his father succeed as a partner of PwC. “CPA Australia designation has been useful,” David says: “In six years, I have moved from auditing to the marketing department, to research, and now tax risk management. Various training modules have helped me and allowed me to move around in these areas.”
Cheong Tat Chan FCPA (Aust.), known as “CT”, the former Assistant Commissioner with the Inland Revenue Department (in charge of the field and audit / investigation unit), feels that success is measured by giving back to the profession. “Tax regulations are constantly changing, so as a tax specialist, I try to help our members by conducting seminars and workshops,” says CT, who operates his own tax consultancy company and is a seasonal speaker at CPA Australia’s seminars.
His son, Dennis Chan CPA (Aust.), is an investment banker. He believes the CPA Program can lead to a global career. Dennis’ parents let him choose his own path but family and friends still influenced him: “There were accountants at family gatherings who would tell me if I became a banker, I would lose my hair at an early age. It was only when I was a bit older that I realised they were joking,” confesses Dennis, who is a proud member of CPA Australia and a Vice President of SMBC Nikko Securities (Hong Kong) Limited. Dennis is also an occasional speaker for CPA Australia in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
CPA Australia acknowledges the invaluable contribution of platinum sponsors for the 130th Anniversary & 60 years in Hong Kong.