|During the opening of the 1999 Law Year, the Chief Justice
expressed concern on the quality of the large number of
intake of young lawyers. He suggested that the entry requirements
for professional qualification courses be raised and the
courses be lengthened and improved to better prepare students
to enter the legal profession.
More recently, medical profession was also reported to
be concerned with the growing numbers of young doctors
entering the profession and the lack of job opportunities
now available to them.
On 24 November 1998, I led an HKSA delegation in front
of the Legislative Council to present the accountancy
profession's case for changing the Accountants (Amendment)
Bylaw 1998. Our presentation was very successful. Gaining
the Council's unanimous support.
This was followed by the successful launch on 1 January
1999 of the HKSA Qualification Programme and its independent
accreditation system. The new programme will ensure that
professional accountants have the required competencies
to meet future challenges and as well as enabling the
HKSA to assume full responsibility for its professional
qualification being on a par with leading worldwide accountancy
bodies. As a profession in Hong Kong, we have taken the
lead to forged ahead boldly with this inevitable change.
And, indeed, we have to change because Hong Kong and the
world around us is changing. In the past few years, the
number of HKSA-registered students has swelled to 26,000
with a growing number of universities offering accountancy
courses. At the same time, the financial markets in Hong
Kong have grown in complexity and many accountants have
complained that the outdated mode of self-study and written
examinations does not prepare young accountants for the
challenges ahead of them.
While the consultation paper on the new professional qualification
was aired for public comment, numerous accountants expressed
their views, with tow issues coming across loud and clear.
Firstly, that the qualification needs to meet the demands
of the local market, and secondly, that the new HKSA qualification
deserves to be recognised overseas. Until now, our hands
have been completely tied when it has come to negotiating
international reciprocal membership recognition as the
HKSA examinations have been organised under contractual
arrangement with the ACCA. We are now, however, free to
negotiate with leading professional bodies based on the
merits of our qualification programme.
The value of the new programme is obvious. Not only will
it enhance the status of Hong Kong accountants both locally
and overseas, the modern method of teaching used will
also improve the overall competence of Hong Kong's accounting
profession, reinforcing the competitive position of the
HKSAR as a leading international financial centre. Accountants
may also find that their new professional qualifications
give them improved bargaining power when looking for a
new career overseas.
However, it is perhaps an over-simplification to assume
that more stringent entry requirement and an improved
examination system would automatically gain Hong Kong
better international recognition. We have therefore ensured
that the system is well planned in that:
We have maintained a high degree of transparency by setting
out clear and objective criteria in every aspect of the
professional examinations. Overseas professional bodies
were fully consulted at all key stages of the proposed
change. These efforts have earned us some encouraging
remarks and helped us to avoid negative comments;
We have engaged a number of well known overseas consultants
to work with us to ensure that the design of the new Qualification
Programme is in keeping with the most up-to-date training
philosophies on education & training and in accordance
with the IFAC's Education Guideline on assessment of professional
We have also ensured that the key benchmarks of our Programme
are easily comparable to those of other leading professional
We have amended the Professional Accountant Ordinance
in 1995 to ensure that we retain full discretion in our
recognition of overseas accounting professionals.
We set up an Accountancy Accreditation Board which has
began to review literature and to document the requirements
of overseas professional qualifications i.e. the 14 accounting
bodies recognised by the current regime.
As such, the profession is positioned to take its place
alongside other leading professional bodies through reciprocal
membership recognition. The HKSA has done its part and
I find it a very gratifying to be involved with the whole
process of conceptualising, designing and seeing through
the various stages of its implementation. I am particularly
proud that the various Legislative amendments had sailed
smoothly through the highly politicised Legislative Council,
gaining support from all political factions. It is now
up to you to give it your staunch backing.
As we progress, please remember that overseas professional
bodies will be watching us. They will be looking to see
whether or not the new HKSA Qualification Programme has
the support of its own members. Hong Kong is a free economy
and the HKSA examinations will still have to compete in
terms of quality, status and price, with many other modes
of study and overseas examinations qualifications.
However, quality accountants specially groomed to face
tough challenges in Hong Kong cannot possibly be manufactured
hastily through an 'assembly line' and a few sitdown examinations.
If quality and status at a competitive price is indeed
what we all want, please stand by your own profession
and strongly support your trainees to choose the HKSA
Accountancy Functional Constituency Representative, LegCo
Web site: http://www.ericli.org