Opportunity knocks up north
The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (HKICPA) qualification programme goes beyond borders, which is a major benefit for those eyeing jobs on the mainland.
Those with HKICPA certification can practise anywhere in the world, and many with the qualification have been lured by opportunities on the mainland.
"There has been a trend of relocating to the mainland since there is a continuously high demand for experienced accounting professionals in recent years," says Ricky Li, speaker at the "Career Development in China" workshop, which was part of the Career Forum 2010 organised by the HKICPA.
"Chinese enterprises are gaining importance in the world, so many job opportunities can be found in these enterprises that lack [staff] with an international perspective," says Li, executive director and financial controller of investment holding company GDH.
Accountants who have had professional training and earned their qualifications in Hong Kong are in particular demand on the mainland, as they are expected to adjust easily to the language and culture there compared with people from other regions. They also have an international perspective that mainland accountants lack, Li says.
However, CPAs who choose to pursue their careers on the mainland must adapt to local practices and understand the business environment there.
Hong Kong accountants' competitive edge can help them stand out from their mainland counterparts, but they should bear in mind the importance of adapting to the business practices there, Li says.
Given the differing culture and structure of mainland and Hong Kong companies, some professional accountants might find it difficult to adapt while at private institutions or state-owned enterprises, he says.
CPAs who want to enter the mainland market must also develop a comprehensive knowledge of local laws and policies that have been formulated differently from those in Hong Kong. Working as a CPA on the mainland requires a certain balancing act, he says.
"Certified public accountants, who wish to find a job in a Chinese company or state-owned enterprise, should maintain a high degree of professionalism," Li says.