In Hong Kong's increasingly complex and booming market economy, more people are choosing a career in accounting than ever before. But merely having a university degree is no longer enough to maintain a competitive edge. It takes the right qualifications, work experience and ethics, as well as continuous education, to succeed in the long term.
Powerful domestic and international enterprises doing business in Hong Kong and mainland China understand the value of well-rounded and well-trained accounting professionals, who can lead a team, work with other high-level executives, communicate well in different languages and are able to present new ideas. Obtaining a relevant, reputable, respected and influential qualification status may therefore be the key to climbing the ladder of success.
Kelly Chan, deputy president of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Hong Kong, states that one of the most important ingredients to jumpstart a fresh graduate's career in any organisation is getting the professional ACCA qualification. "The ACCA qualification has a solid history of over 100 years. It's internationally recognised, with members and students in 170 countries. On average, every eight minutes, someone, somewhere in the world, registers with ACCA. Hence, it is the largest and fastest-growing professional accountancy body in the world," Ms Chan says.
In the past, prospective candidates in the accountancy field were usually university graduates who had majored in accounting. In recent years there has been a growing trend of non-accounting majors and adults already working in different industries joining the profession. Over 70 per cent of current ACCA members are working in the commercial field and public sector. These members come from all industries sectors and different backgrounds," explains Ms Chan.
A key component of the ACCA qualification is gaining relevant practical work experience. The support that ACCA offers its students and members therefore includes seminars and workshops covering practical aspects as well as technical training and commercial knowledge.
"ACCA understands that accounting work is demanding. Members and students must be well – prepared and keep up with the latest developments, as well as with changes in standards, regulations, corporate governance, and uphold professionalism and ethics," explains Ms Chan.
"Members are also required to complete at least 40 units of our continuing professional development (CPD) training programme," she adds.
Matching different needs
With its open access and inclusive approach, ACCA assists students in becoming accounting and finance professionals. The internationally recognised accounting body offers optional, adapted and variant papers on all areas of accounting to match different needs. Academic qualifications, location or previous work experience, ACCA provides students with a range of options in order to become professionals. Students may be exempted from up to nine of the 14 examination papers to be completed for the ACCA qualification.
Ms Chan notes that students usually complete the programme within three to four years. The three-step process towards ACCA membership includes the completion of the above-mentioned examination papers, a newly launched professional ethics module and three years' relevant practical work experience.
ACCA also has close relationships with approved employers in Hong Kong, mainland China and the rest of the world, as well as over 440 tuition providers through its University and College Registration Scheme (UCRS), with part-time, full-time and distance-learning programmes currently on offer.
Prospective candidates can register with ACCA from anywhere around the world and students may take on-demand computer-based exams or register for local sit-in exams in almost any country. "Our examinations are executed twice a year, in June and December, and, best of all, the exam time schedule is the same globally, to be fair to all our students," Ms Chan points out. "We also have over 40 national law and tax examination options for students."
ACCA currently has three mainland China offices, located in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
Based on standards set by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the ACCA qualification enables members to work anywhere in the world.