A commitment to ensure those who aspire to become a certified public accountant (CPA) can achieve their goals is a key aim for the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. "We offer a number of pathways that enable people to become CPAs," says deputy executive director Jonathan Ng. These include the internationally recognised Qualification Programme (QP) for those with accounting or related degrees, and tailor-made conversion programmes. "One of our main philosophies is to make sure that people who want to become a CPA will not be deprived of an opportunity," Ng says. To qualify as a CPA, candidates must complete at least three years of practical work experience under the institute's authorised employer scheme and pass the QP exam. Applicants can study and work at the same time. With more than 34,000 members, the institute is the only body authorised by law to register and grant practising certificates to CPAs in Hong Kong. To ensure that training programmes remain fresh and relevant, the institute has introduced insolvency and taxation specialisations to provide CPAs who wish to specialise with additional skills and increased recognition for their competencies. "Every year, we offer training programmes, workshops and seminars that keep our members up to date with the latest trends," Ng says. To safeguard the career-path processes necessary to become a leading accountant, the institute works with member companies to provide structured training programmes, mentoring and supervision support, Ng says. Describing the institute's QP as the equivalent to an "international driving licence", Ng says the programme offers a number of significant benefits. "The QP designation is a passport to practice as an accountant regionally and globally," he says. Completing the QP exempts CPAs from sitting the Hong Kong practising certificate examinations, which are necessary for registration as an auditor. Significantly, according to Ng, QP holders are exempt from four of the seven Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA) exam modules, which allow Hong Kong accountants to practise on the mainland. Ng believes China offers Hong Kong accountants unique career opportunities. "As mainland companies expand and go global, Hong Kong CPAs who gain mainland working experience will better understand the business culture and develop a mindset that enables them to respond to global needs," he says. Despite challenges such as global economic uncertainties and local inflation, Ng sees a bright outlook for both new joiners and accounting professionals. "As the leading financial hub in Asia, Hong Kong remains a main focal point for business and finance," he says.