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Year-on-year growth

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants has always devoted itself to nurturing accountants for the future. Its recent Qualification Programme (QP) Case Analysis Competition 2012, which was open to local university students, did this by getting participants to analyse a simulated business case.

The contest attracted nearly 1,200 students, in 290 teams from 10 tertiary schools. It started in September and, after two rounds in which teams produced a financial analysis of the case and presented a written report, the top eight teams entered the final round to give an oral report before judges.

The judging panel consisted of Keith Pogson, president of the Institute; Susanna Chiu and Clement Chan, vice-presidents; Dr Alexander Ng, associate principal at McKinsey & Company; and Peter Smith, director at Wavelength Consulting.

Chiu said this year, students put even more effort into making their proposals applicable to real-life business.

"I have seen the standard of the students in this competition improve year after year. I think some of them really take the comments by adjudicators from previous years to heart and work to improve on their presentations," she said.

"This year, teams were able to provide a lot of evidence to support their plans in their business proposals and were able to explain how they could find funds to finance their suggested strategies. This is the part that last year's contestants forgot to cover. This year students were also able to give in-depth answers and ... also no longer recited from notes."

The adjudicators were all impressed with the professionalism demonstrated by participants.

"The performance of the students was way ahead of what I expected," Ng said. "For youngsters with no working experience to be able to present their case so confidently in front of a big crowd, and have such an in-depth understanding of business operations, I am impressed. Their proposals are good enough for business executives to use right away."

After much debate between the adjudicators, first prize went to the University of Hong Kong team of Ezon Guo Tian, Carey Cai Qingqing, Hanson Liu Hanchen and Eric Yang Jinrui. They were awarded a cash prize of HK$15,000, QP fee waiver, internship placement, as well as a trophy and a certificate.

Their victory was a hard-fought one as Pogson really pressured the team with tough questions. "I was giving them a hard time on purpose because I felt that they had the chance to win and I wanted to make sure I chose the best team. They did really well, co-operating with each other and sticking to their point of view even when they were challenged," Pogson said.

As the competition is part of the Institute's efforts to nurture local CPAs, it was encouraging to see undergraduate participants display important business skills, Chan said. This included communication skills and knowledge of business ethics, which are vital to the sustainable development of Hong Kong into a knowledge-based economy.

Chiu added that members from the winning team worked very well together as a group, which is an important quality for modern accountants. "The top team displayed great team spirit and answered questions from adjudicators as a team. Their presentation was also very carefully planned," she said.

Winning team leader Guo was also named the best presenter of the competition.

"Several participants stood out as possible winners of the best presenter award, but it went to Guo because of his excellent connection with the audience," Pogson said. "His confident delivery and ability to think on his feet really impressed me."



Ezon Guo Tian, Carey Cai Qingqing, Hanson Liu Hanchen and Eric Yang Jinrui (University of Hong Kong)

First runners-up:

Victor Kwok Hoi-kit, Tony Law Ka-kit, Cynthia Ng Ching-man and Isla Yu Hui-yin (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Second runners-up:

Mark Li Mengze, Tony Ling Ka-chun, Bonnie Man Ying-yee and Shawn Yu Shaoang (University of Hong Kong)