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LegCo Rep Column

Innovative and Versatile Accountants

The next generation of accountants should be innovative and versatile. 'Innovative' because they will need to be good at self-learning, especially in Hong Kong which has a fast-changing work environment - Hong Kong's economy is expanding both horizontally (as a result of internationalism) and vertically (due to the new and complex economic activity). As such, textbook solutions to the 'new' problems faced by young accountants are probably not yet available.

They need to be 'versatile' because accountants are now required to speak and read in at least Chinese and English, and they must feel completely at home on a computer.

Today, accountants are called on for much more than just 'tick-and-cross' bookkeeping, they are often asked to provide full business solutions.

The expectation does not stop there. With the increasingly heavy legal and moral responsibilities placed on professionals, the next generation of accountants must be scrupulously ethical in the ways in which they conduct themselves.

These may seem impossibly tall orders. But this is what I expected back in 1993, when I embarked on the task of restructuring the HKSA's professional accreditation system in my capacity as chairman of the appointed steering group.

The hard work of many dedicated professionals, academic and staff of the HKSA secretariat paid off - we now have the credible education and training system the accountancy profession ordered. We convinced the Government and legislators to help us change the related statutory frameworks and we convinced other leading international accounting bodies, such as the CPA Australia and the ACCA, to accord us mutual recognition.

What we need to do now is convince the regulators, employers and, most importantly of all, prospective accountants to choose the QP as the preferred qualification.

Quality accountants groomed to face tough challenges cannot possibly be manufactured hastily through an 'assembly line' and a few sit-down examinations. The HKSA Qualification Programme provides a sound theoretical base for university graduates to latch on to. Theoretical knowledge is then augmented during practical workshops taught by experienced practitioners to ensure consistency and depth.

The use of modern technology, ethical standards and linguistic ability will also be emphasised and tested. The capacity and aptitude of our young accountants will need to e stretched. However, the programme will provide plenty of opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability.

I believe our programme is of a high quality, both for Hong Kong and when compared to other jurisdictions. It is therefore good value.

Now, it is time for me to encourage you to urge you trainees to choose the HKSA's new qualification - the only true qualification geared towards the future of Hong Kong's accountancy profession.

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