Founding father sees shared values as the way forward

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 September, 2004, 12:00am

THE HONG KONG Institute of Certified Public Accountants has grown in size and strength over the past 30 years to become an influential organisation.

Membership has increased to 22,000, compared with 5,300 in 1990 and about 560 in the year of the organisation's inception on January 1, 1973.

The organisation has been tasked as a standards watchdog and licensing body of local accountants. Strenuous efforts have been made to improve qualification programmes and ensure local accountants meet stringent international standards.

The accounting organisation has developed considerable influence in areas directly affecting the profession and the wider business environment.

In the early years, however, a shortage of funds was a problem for the professional body, which had to rely on a government grant to fund its operation.

When the professional body was established, founding president Sir Gordon Macwhinnie said the organisation had a great part to play in the future development and prosperity of Hong Kong.

The now 92-year-old veteran said creating the organisation was a team effort by colleagues who had shared a vision to build a professional body and contributed to make it happen.

Its creation would ensure that all the benchmarks for best practice and the well-considered safeguards were honoured and consistently implemented, he said.

The organisation's debut on the international stage came in 1976, when it hosted the eighth conference of the Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants, at which the confederation's constitution was adopted.

The profession gained political recognition when the accountancy functional constituency for the Legislative Council was announced in 1988. In the pursuit of service excellence, the professional body facilitated the convergence of Hong Kong's accounting and auditing standards with the International Accounting Standards and International Standards on Auditing. The convergence takes place next January.

Over the past 20 years, closer business ties with the mainland have increased contact between local accountants and their counterparts in China.

The first of many formal links with the mainland was made in 1985, with the organisation's official visit across the border.

Sir Gordon said China was now in the much more challenging position of needing to build its infrastructure to accommodate its many accountants, while working within the parameter of a varying political outlook.

'The landmark decision to link our members from Hong Kong with China was a significant achievement, and now we need to ensure we develop this relationship from the cornerstone of shared values,' he said.

'This will require strong leadership and a consensus and commitment from the collective membership to adhere to and implement the highest standards of agreed practice.'