Good performance on all accounts
by Grace Chan
Every year, more than 1,500 accounting graduates enter the recruitment market in Hong Kong. But career success depends on more than just a university degree—these days, the right professional qualifications, work experience and ongoing education are vital.
"All companies need accounting professionals," says Theresa Chan, president—Greater China, CPA Australia. "Graduates have the choice of specialising in audit, financial accounting, compliance, corporate restructuring, taxation and more. A great bonus is that experience gained in one function can be transferable to another," she adds.
Another catalyst driving demand for new accounting services is the evolving business environment. "Since the recent credit crunch, the spotlight has been on corporate governance and risk management. Tax authorities around the world are looking for additional source of revenue, driving demand for tax professionals. Another growing area is in reporting corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives," says Ms Chan.
While the profession offers ample opportunity for practitioners on all levels, the greatest demand is for those with more than three years' experience and leadership skills, she stresses.
Ms Chan advises all young accountants to work towards international qualifications. One good option is the CPA Australia designation, with a specific focus on global strategy and leadership.
CPA Australia is one of the world's largest professional accounting bodies, with a global membership of more than 129,000 professionals across 110 countries. In the Greater China region, there are more than 12,000 members.
"In addition to providing participants with technical skills, our goal is to nurture future business leaders, bearing in mind that not all accountants develop their careers only in this profession," Ms Chan explains.
Through the CPA Program, CPAs hold a certification that is recognised by businesses around the world for their skills in strategy and leadership. The CPA Program aims to combine academic knowledge with practical experience, helping participants to sharpen their competence in developing and implementing strategy to translate visions into reality.
The programme provides various routes for people of different academic backgrounds to become a CPA (Aust.). "An individual's entry point is initially determined on assessment of previous education and experience," Ms Chan remarks.
Once they have joined CPA Australia, professionals have access to an array of educational programmes and networking activities. CPA Australia also offers continuing professional development (CPD) programmes on topics ranging from technical skills to leadership and presentation skills to ensure that members maintain and develop their professional competence.
Annual congresses feature keynote speakers from the profession, sharing their experience and ideas on subjects ranging from the economy in general to business strategy, corporate governance and investment developments. Last year's event, attended by 400 Hong Kong and overseas members, also provided excellent networking opportunities.
"As a CPA (Aust.), I help to keep the business focused on aspects of the numbers that they really need to activate and change. It is that kind of pivotal role that can help in many facets of business decisions," says Melissa Claassen, CFO, adidas Group (Hong Kong and Taiwan). "There are lots of networking activities and events where you can meet esteemed colleagues and discuss current business trends or new thoughts that are out there in the marketplace."
"A CPA Australia member is a well-rounded individual, both in technical accounting expertise as well as personality," notes John Hsu, Executive Director of Sales and Finance, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Asia Pacific.
One of CPA Australia's key endeavours is to strengthen partnerships with employers. Early this year, the organisation held its sixth annual Global Opportunities—Career Market Day in Hong Kong, with nearly 20 accounting firms, banks and recruitment firms presenting career information and advice to around 1,500 attendees.
Taken from Career Times 4 June 2010, A13