In the modern corporate world, organisations across the board require the meticulous skills and knowledge from dedicated accounting and finance personnel for smooth operation in any economic landscape.
According to Bernard Wu, vice president, ACCA Hong Kong, accounting and finance professionals not only keep a company's books day in and day out, but also look after its financial health — the key element for bottom-line performance, success and growth.
"Despite the current credit crunch, demand for accounting professionals remains positive as they have significant impact on sustaining and building businesses, something that can be easily weighed down during the good times," Mr Wu points out.
This steady hiring trend is reflected in the Accounting and Finance Market Survey 2008 conducted by ACCA Hong Kong and Michael Page International. More than 1,330 responses were received between August and September this year.
Some 54 per cent of the responding employers said the number of accounting and finance staff would remain the same while 29 per cent saw a need to recruit more in the coming 12 months.
On the employee side, 36 per cent of respondents believed that the employment situation for the accounting profession was "getting worse". However, some 60 per cent felt that the employment market had "no change" or was "good and getting better".
Ahead of change
"Although the current sentiment is relatively cautious towards recruitment, especially compared to a year ago while banks and financial institutions adopted short-term hiring to compete headcount with competitors, the demand for accounting professionals remains strong," Mr Wu observes.
At the height of the economy, talented accounting and finance professionals had multiple offers on the table, with bigger pay packages and very attractive sign-on bonuses. Today, the talent acquisition climate has subsided and expectations from employees became more realistic.
The survey also gauged the need for staff mobility: 90 per cent of the responding employers noted that their accounting and finance staff need to travel for business outside Hong Kong at least once or twice a year on average; 55 per cent of them revealed that greater China is the most frequently travelled destination.
"We can see that mobility is becoming more a job requirement in today's accounting world. Willingness to travel is no doubt an essential consideration if an employer has to hire someone to help take the business places," Mr Wu notes.
As such, enhancing mobility through international perspectives and a globally recognised qualification such as ACCA helps accounting and finance professionals secure a wider horizon for their career development.
With a network of 80 offices and centres across the globe, ACCA is an international body that offers business-relevant top-notch qualifications and services to its members around the world.
"Contemporary accounting and finance professionals are not number crunchers who deal only with figures and spreadsheets. They communicate with people from within their organisation as well as those from clients," Mr Wu remarks.
In a nutshell, they can specialise in audit, financial accounting, compliance and financial planning, insolvency and reconstruction as well as taxation. Mr Wu emphasises that experiences gained from one such specific function are transferable to another.
Therefore, ACCA members are not only presented with discipline-specific training opportunities such as seminars, workshops and conferences, they are also immersed in a cross-functional culture that offers them a wide exposure.
"We organise regular sharing sessions and seminars. ACCA members and students are encouraged to sign up according to their interests disregarding their specified functions," Mr Wu remarks. "ACCA is proud to include members from diverse backgrounds, in terms of professional experience, age and functions. With members from different fields of practice in our committees and sub-committees, we can serve the future development needs of the worldwide accounting community."