Healthy balance of jobs
Every component of the business world shares one thing in common - they all need the skills and services provided by accountants. While financial problems in other countries continue to hurt business and financial markets, Keith Pogson, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), says employment prospects for accountants in the Asia region remain positive.
"Hong Kong's thriving capital markets, global companies expanding their activities in the region, and Chinese companies going global are all creating opportunities for accountants," he says.
While the demand for accountants is increasing, Pogson says that their traditional responsibilities are also widening. "These days modern accountants are expected to possess a wide variety of skills so that they can offer services such as financial planning, consulting, investment planning, budget analysis and reporting on non-finance-related areas, to name but a few," he says.
Although business activity in Asia has cooled recently, many companies still plan to increase headcount in their corporate-governance and internal-control-related activities.
"Similar to an aircraft carrier, Hong Kong is used by companies as a regional financial hub to set up and carry out Asia-wide business operations," Pogson says. "As it is a world-class business centre recognised for international financial standards, we can expect the demand for accounting professionals to remain high."
As companies pay an increasing amount of attention to managing corporate-governance-related risks, the requirements for internal-audit and risk professionals will be particularly strong.
He says participants attending the HKICPA Career Forum 2012 will be able to gain a better understanding of the accounting profession in Hong Kong and across the region, and see first-hand the opportunities that are available. They can also talk to practitioners and find out which skills they need to develop to succeed in the profession.
Those attending the forum will benefit even more by giving some thought to the sort of career they want to develop. "Do they want to work for a large or small firm? How about an NGO? Perhaps they would like to work in an area where they can make the most use of their numeracy, communication skills or business acumen. The accounting profession can offer all this and more," Pogson says.
Those joining the profession must be committed to learning academic and technical skills in addition to the complex processes that make a business work. Equally important, they must be aware of their responsibilities and the need for integrity.
"When people join the profession, they may not at first feel they are a big part of the pie. But whatever part they play, they are always looking after the interests of clients, investors, shareholders and Hong Kong's reputation. That is a big responsibility," Pogson says.
HKICPA offers support and specialisation programmes to help members take advantage of new business and career opportunities. With 35,000 members in Hong Kong, it is a major provider of talent for the profession.
In the long term, Pogson sees a bright future for experienced accountants. "Companies increasingly need directors that understand internal controls, governance, regulations and all the processes that allow a business to operate efficiently," he says. "They also want directors from a profession that is trusted and respected. This sounds like a job for an accountant to me."
HKICPA Career Forum 2012
Date October 7, 2012 (Sunday)
Venue Cyberport Conference and Exhibition Centre
Fee Free admission
Enquiries 2287 7070 / 2287 7236