Changing rules, changing roles
Another example of a CPA who has benefited from specializing is Brenda Tung at RSM Nelson Wheeler and an Institute member, who found the right specialism for her during a three-month secondment to the firm’s risk advisory services department.
“Now I have great satisfaction in being able to convince clients to accept our recommendations to enhance their internal control procedures,” says Tung, who joined from the firm’s technical department in 2010. Such procedures, she adds, help client companies satisfy listing requirements in Hong Kong.
Tung, who is a senior manager in the department, says that compared to five years ago, she has noticed a growth in younger professionals joining her stream “as regulatory bodies are placing more and more emphasis on corporate governance in Hong Kong, and the responsibilities of directors of listed companies are increasing.”
Tax is another specialization with growing appeal. With ever-changing laws around the world, tax specialists these days are busy handling increasingly sophisticated tax issues.
Florence Chan, partner and regional tax leader at EY, says CPAs joining this area are attracted to the challenges involved as well as the opportunities. “Tax is very special in a sense that each country has its own system,” says Chan.
“When you have cross-border transactions, there’s definitely a need to know what will be the resulting issues. Whether it’s withholding tax on dividend distribution, payment interests or payment royalties, there are very complicated areas involved.”
Chan says the number of people specializing in tax in Hong Kong has grown significantly, citing EY's Greater China firm as an example. “We have seen double digit growth in the number of tax professionals over the years, so you can imagine other firms would be similar.”
For accountants mulling the idea of working in the taxation department, now is the best time to take action, according to Chan. “Previously we had a lot of multinational companies setting up headquarters in Hong Kong, needing regional and international tax knowledge,” she says. “Now we’re also seeing state-owned enterprises in China going out to different parts of the world so we are positioned to capture the opportunities in this area.”
Source: HKICPA's APlus Magazine – September 2013