The prospects for the accounting profession in Hong Kong are bullish, thanks to the city’s status as a global financial centre, its role as “super-connector” in the Belt and Road initiative, and the closer ties and economic integration developing between Hong Kong and the rest of the Greater Bay Area.
Amid this optimism, the HKICPA Career Forum 2018 aims to help attending students enhance their understanding of the profession, sharing with them the latest information about recent developments in the profession. This information is vital for students planning their career paths after graduation, says Jonathan Ng, acting registrar of the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs, the territory’s only statutory licensing body for the accounting profession. “The forum is a one-stop-shop platform. As well as obtaining information, students can foster connections through direct interaction with the attending CPAs, who could very well be their future employers.”
The forum’s theme “The Critical Piece” highlights the fact that CPAs, equipped with their essential foundation of professional skills and knowledge, are core to their organisation’s operations and act as indispensable connectors and contributors of diverse value-adding business functions. It also highlights that many CPAs, with their experience and insights which accumulate over time, combined with their professional judgment, and analytical, critical and lateral thinking, have gone beyond the traditional roles of accounting/auditing and diversified into other crucial specialisations and functions, including valuation, forensic, risk and IT consultancy, and financial controllership. “Many CPAs have advanced to become the leaders of their organisations, as CEOs and CFOs, making decisions as part of the C-Suite,” Ng says.
The HKICPA’s qualification programme (QP) is a holistic training platform that teaches the essential foundation accounting skills while also cultivating the enabling skills and higher-order competencies needed in CPAs of the future. It also prepares students for specialising into a role which interests them. The institute is preparing for the release of the new QP, which further opens doors to the profession for non-accounting degree holders. “Although we are widening the entry channels, the exit channel – that of becoming a CPA – will be maintained at the highest level. The requirements for technical competencies as well as ethical standards are vital to maintain the consistently high quality of CPAs and the public trust in the profession,” Ng says.
The new QP will launch in 2020 and features three successive levels – associate, professional and capstone. “The highly flexible associate level was designed as the foundation for non-accounting degree holders. Based on their needs, individuals are able to study modules to make up for any shortfall in accounting or financial knowledge before advancing to the professional level,” Ng explains.
“To build the all-roundedness, the capstone level, comprising three-day workshop and a case study exam, will demonstrate genuine business scenarios, and allow students with several years of work experience to solve problems through integrating the technical skills and knowledge learned from the previous levels of the QP, their enhanced higher-order capabilities and their real-world perspectives developed through their work. As well as providing these technical, higher-order skills, the new QP continues to strongly emphasise the integrity and high ethical standards expected by employers.”