Money Moves

Learn the right business language

An accounting qualification will add value to your credentials, writes KS Lau

Office workers are now all aware of the necessity of lifelong learning and, therefore, an MBA qualification is still much sought after. But did you know there is another qualification that will add perhaps as much value to your career? That is in accounting.

Accounting is the means of communication for business. Some people even say that it is the only language for business! As an aspiring executive, can you really afford not to know the right language?

Many people still think that studying for an accounting qualification is all about number crunching and memorising a lot of accounting and auditing standards. However, the knowledge required by a modern accountant is very wide. He or she is a specialist in the management of information, has a strategic view and is a good communicator. Training covers the basic foundations of accounting: financial and management accounting, taxation, financial planning and auditing. It also includes other business-related topics such as marketing, information technology, commercial law, communication and management principles.

For some professional accounting bodies, the qualification standards require knowledge surprisingly close to that of an MBA but with greater focus on the presentation of management information.

For a new graduate aspiring to join the commercial sector, an accounting degree will provide a solid foundation for building a career. For an executive already in a particular functional role such as marketing, operations or information technology, an accounting designation certainly will help to widen career choices.

If you happen to take a look at the profiles of executives at many listed companies in Hong Kong, it is common to find that many of the CEOs and COOs also hold a professional accounting qualification of one kind or another proving the importance of accountancy for general business success.

Working in an international financial centre, Hong Kong people who are thinking of studying accountancy have a number of choices. Nearly all major, internationally-recognised accounting bodies have educational programmes on offer in Hong Kong. The Australian CPA, British ACCA and ACMA and Canadian CGA are all available locally. They represent the main qualification for a nationally-recognised accounting designation and each of them has its own unique features and special points.

CPA (Aust) represents the Certified Practising Accountants of Australia. CPA (Aust) only accepts graduates of recognised Australian accounting degree programmes for its educational courses leading to the certification exams.

ACCA represents Chartered Certified Accountants in the UK. ACCA exams are generally considered suitable for those who would like to pursue a career in auditing.

ACMA represents Chartered Management Accountants in the UK. It is a designation for management accountants and the exams extensively cover the analysis of management information to meet strategic needs.

CGA represents the Certified General Accountants of Canada. CGA offers an educational programme that integrates information technology skills with accounting and management knowledge.

K S Lau, MSc, MBA, FCCA, FCPA, CFE. An accountant by profession, Mr Lau is specialised in corporate governance and management development. He is also the co-author of Q&A: Financial Planning Exams, a popular course book preparing students for financial planning examinations. For any enquiries regarding the article, you can contact Mr Lau on

Taken from Career Times 09 January 2004
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