|The Society's QP is the result of years of planning,
consultation and corroboration. It has always been considered
a project of vital importance and a Steering Committee
was set up in 1993 to ensure our students make a sensible
and relatively painless transition from the Joint Examination
Scheme (JES) to the Society's QP.
As the Society's Vice-President in 1993, I chaired
the Steering Committee which was tasked to create a
qualification programme that would be in line with the
Society's future objectives, as well as establishing
a timeframe for implementing it - and all starting from
a blank piece of paper. We owed much to the foresight
and pragmatism of the many accountants who worked with
us on this project, daring to venture into the unknown
and helping us turn our vision into reality.
That was eight years ago. But is the finished product,
the QP, delivering on its promises and does it meet
the needs of Hong Kong's business environment today?
As we all know, China is about to join the WTO. This
has already had a profound impact on nearly all Hong
Kong companies. Our focus is no longer on how to sell
to overseas markets, we also need to be aware of the
impact of the PRC's economy on Hong Kong's continued
In complying with the spirit of the WTO, there is no
doubt now that the Society must break its previously
'exclusive' link with the ACCA. Hong Kong needs its
own independent professional qualification for the accountancy
profession. The split from the ACCA is the only way
to regain our autonomy in regard to future mutual recognition
agreements with other leading international accountancy
bodies, as well as with the Chinese Institute of Certified
A second feature of our current environment is that
the Hong Kong Government has opened the way for businesses
to import expert labour with special financial expertise.
This identifies real business demands which had to be
considered when formulating the QP - if the QP does
not meet these demands, our accounting graduates will
have to fight hard for jobs within a competitive market.
Our businesses now demand good linguistic and leadership
skills from employees, and the ability to apply their
knowledge to work. Unfortunately, complaints relating
to the lack of such skills are frequently heard within
the business community.
Technology too is something we need to consider. Does
the QP ensure that graduates are aware of the importance
of IT and are they able to achieve the high productivity
that IT allows?
Finally, and although not entirely representative of
Hong Kong's business environment, the Society's decision
to rebrand itself is something that must be considered
when assessing the effectiveness of the QP. The rebranding
exercise aims to raise the profile of Hong Kong's accountancy
profession and as such, a quality QP and graduates of
a higher calibre are seen to be one of the main foundations.
These influences may not have been foreseen by many
other professions in the mid 1990s, but I am proud to
say that this is the exact environment we envisaged
our QP graduates would have to face.
When formulating the QP, we also took into account
that we would need to open our arms to more non-accounting
degree holders. The conversion programmes in place have
made it possible to accept many able and talented young
people who have been attracted by the accountancy profession.
We would not have been able to benefit from their services
if we had not implemented this change.
In line with this, a number of other tertiary institutions
are interested in offering self-financing postgraduate
degree courses, which will further help raise the academic
standards of the profession in the long run.
One environmental influence we could not have been
aware of way back in 1993 was the drastic economic downturn
that has occurred during the past few years. This has
forced us to look at the costs involved in the QP, and
much more so than would have been necessary if economic
times were good.
I know the Society is still looking into the financial
aspect and is trying hard to remain flexible and pragmatic,
but without sacrificing quality. As such, I hope members
will support our 'flexible' approach, which will help
us ride through this short-term downward cycle.
The impact of the recession and the looming split with
the ACCA has pushed the QP into the most critical stage
of its life cycle - our marketing efforts need to be
It is now or never as we launch the QP as the Society's
sole qualification programme. I know that as accountants
we are mostly modest and not used to blowing our own
trumpets, but at this stage of the game, we must work
against our natural instincts and employ good public
relations professionals to help us win this battle.
In our current environment, where graduates, employers
and accountants are all overloaded with information,
there is little time to digest anything new. It is difficult
enough to gain support for our QP, let alone ask people
to recognise its attributes. But unless we try hard
to do so, our qualification programme will not get the
real chance it deserves.
Eric Li is the LegCo Accountancy Functional
Constituency Representative. His website can be found