Career Path

Getting ahead in accounting field

by Anita Cheung

Karen Ho
Finance Manager of
Yahoo! Holdings
(Hong Kong) Limited

Karen Ho, who is pursuing a career in accountancy, took only five years to rise to her present position as finance manager.

She started as an auditor with a leading accounting firm Pricewater-houseCoopers where she worked for three years learning as much and as fast as she could, meeting clients and handling their auditing work.

From there, she moved to Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Limited where she was an accountant.

She continued to move up the career ladder and within eight months she was promoted to the prestigious title of Finance Manager at Yahoo!.

"Fun, Fast and Focused"

"To get ahead, one needs to be a fast learner," she says.

The work scope of a finance manager is much wider than that of an accountant, she explains. A finance manager is required to assist management in business planning, evaluating operational issues and in finding business solutions." Hence, Karen's work includes financial accounting, management accounting, system development, taxation, secretarial, treasury, and corporate governance.

To practice as an accountant, one must be either a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Chartered Accountant or their equivalent.

Karen continued studying while working at Yahoo! and has obtained a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certificate, and is currently a Level III candidate for the Chartered Financial Analyst Program.

Accountants must also have skills in communication, presentation and in analyzing situations, Karen says.

"An accountant should not be a 'bean counter', but a leader with an advisory role to keep management informed of the company's financial health and up-to-date about its financial dealings with other companies." Business sense and language skills are also very important. But integrity is a "must".

"This is currently the accounting industry's major concern as a result of the Enron scandal. Accounting firms need to restore the confidence of the investing public. The current self-regulatory system should be improved," Karen says.

Karen has an ambitious agenda. She aims to be a financial controller in the next two to three years, and chief financial officer in another five to ten years. Karen has adopted her company's motto which is: "Fun, Fast and Focused".

Below are web sites (recommended by Karen Ho) that accounting professionals may find useful:

China Opportunities

Following China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), foreign investors are re-evaluating their investment and business opportunities in the country, and the demand there for accountants will increase, says Karen.

"Accounting procedures in China are somewhat different from Hong Kong's. The SAR Government and accounting bodies here can help Hong Kong accountants do a better job in China by holding courses on the Chinese system for them".

Karen, herself is considering enrolling in the PRC CPA Uniform Examination in September.

Figures for reference only   K='000

Taken from Career Times 22 March 2002, p. 28
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