Switching roles to find your specialism needn’t always be complicated, suggests Galaxy Chan, a partner at KPMG China and a member of the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs, citing her own smooth transition.
Some firms, such as KPMG, provide employees opportunities for short-term internal transfers if there are vacancies. “If you are unsure that you want to make a permanent commitment in your department or want to try a different one, the human resources team can arrange a short-term secondment,” says Chan. “After that, you can always go back to your [original] department.”
Chan now acts as an informal mentor to junior staff working within the firm’s hands-on restructuring services division. She frequently offers advice on how to handle tough situations such as formal insolvency procedures including liquidations or receiverships.
“In the case of liquidations, we are working to realize as much as we can from the assets of a failed business for the benefit of the creditors, which usually include the staff of the company,” she explains. “These situations are quite stressful as we are dealing with people who have lost money and who are anxious. We have to deal with them in a calm and even-handed manner.”
The Institute continues to support CPAs who specialize through its faculties, which include restructuring and insolvency, and taxation. Chan at EY is the chairman of the tax faculty executive committee.
In 2012, the Institute launched its Advanced Diploma in Specialist Taxation programme to provide members with an integrated study of Hong Kong, China and international taxation. “Because of the increased complexity of taxation, and the business environment in the city becoming more globalized,” Chan explains, “it will be beneficial for our members to widen their scope of knowledge beyond Hong Kong tax.”
EY also offers a diverse range of tax sub-services, such as business tax services and transfer pricing, and employees are also encouraged to “rotate” and experience working in these areas. “Generally after two to three years they can make a decision as to what speciality they would like to pursue further,” says Chan.
Giving them even further insight into these specialist areas, Chan says that each of the taxation sub-services offer employees a useful combination of classroom lectures and on-the-job training.
To determine which specialism is right for them, most Institute members believe that it ultimately comes down to thinking about where their strengths and interests lie. To help them along the way, it’s likely that firms will continue to nudge employees in the right direction, not only, as Chan points out, for the good of CPAs themselves. “As a profession, people and knowledge are our only asset – we need knowledgeable people.”
Source: HKICPA's APlus Magazine – September 2013