^ Back

Best kept under one roof

The HKSA has long embraced under one-roof accountants from all walks of life. Naturally, accountants in practice present a high profile within a Society created to cater to the needs of the profession. But as the practice environment becomes increasingly complex and high-risk, and the number of young accountants seeking to join the profession rises, the composition of the fraternity of accountants is changing also. More and more of us are pursuing careers in businesses such as banking and insurance, industry and commerce. Others are joining the public service en masse.

This trend of a changing composition was already noticeable in the early nineties. The HKSA promptly responded to the phenomenon by expanding its services to members with a greater variety of interests. Nonetheless, the advantages of keeping all accountants under one roof are obvious.

Besides the pooling of resources to become one of the largest and strongest professional bodies in Hong Kong there are great synergy values between accountants with different skills and experiences. Among them, the opportunity to move with ease from one sector to another as one advances along a chosen career path. The other is the cross-fertilization experience, which benefits the profession and the community. Both offer greater choice for members together with an increasingly well recognized professional status in support.

Similar needs

In many respects training needs for practicing accountants and accountants in business or the public sector are similar. The technical background and the unified standards of elaborately prepared SAAPs to be observed are the same. Yet specialisations can also be efficiently catered for in an environment of lifelong learning where there is access to a supportive peer group.

Help for all

The design of the HKSAs Qualification Programme deliberately caters for these elements and recognizes that within a multi-skills environment continues learning is a necessity for modern accountants facing a fast changing business world.

Accountants in business are also primary users of accounts. They should have a right to be heard and better still, be part of the process of accounting standard setting. They should operate from the inside not from the outside. They have better understanding and greater commitment that way.

This way of organising the profession is quite different from that in China. As accountants in the Chinese market are still in short supply, limited skilled resources are more likely to be deployed to police the newly built financial markets in a regulatory role.

This situation presents a golden opportunity to Hong Kong accountants who are now in abundant supply and can afford to help in fostering a strong and more resilient corporate governance structure in the Mainland, based upon their experience within established corporations.

Hong Kong accountants can offer much more added-value services too by lending their expertise to the top echelon of PRC management teams. With our skills-set of taxation, litigation support, fraud investigation, internal audit, merger and acquisition and financial analysis, we can perform much more than simple compliance procedures.

Believe me

I have some personal experience as a fund manager and now an independent director of a listed company in the PRC. In the early days, we use to send teams to familiarise our Chinese counterparts with modern management techniques. They continue to need experience in erecting and fully utilizing organizational structures. They need guidance in human resources management and conduits through which they can make contact with investment bankers and other professionals like lawyers, information technology providers, corporate secretaries and surveyors.

There is huge mismatch of skills and career openings across the border. We have what they need and they can offer what we want. Its a winning formula for both. We should be brushing up our skills, widening our networks, sharpening our communication abilities and not be afraid to take on this new challenge.

Dr Eric Li is the LegCo Accountancy Functional Constituency Representative. For more information, refer to his website at http://www.ericli.org 

^ Back