Though embarking on professional life is exhilarating, it can also be daunting at times. In a field such as accounting, where expectations of professionalism are particularly high, the challenges for young professionals are similarly substantial. Recognising this, the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs (HKICPA) set up the 25.35 Group in February 2011, with the aim "to provide a platform to nurture young members to become future leaders of the institute."
The group is designed for CPAs between 25 and 35 years old, an age range sometimes called 'the golden ten years,' says 25.35 Group convenor, Gary Poon. This group represents one-quarter - about 8,000 - of all HKICPA members, but members who enjoy interacting with younger professionals are also welcome to join.
The network also aims to: encourage young members to exchange views and share experiences to enhance their sense of belonging to the institute; provide effective communication channels between young members and the institute; offer mentorship; and assist younger members with business networking opportunities.
"Our aim is to get in touch with younger members earlier in their careers," explains Poon, adding that many accountants tend to join these kinds of networking groups later in their careers.
The group is structured around a core group of 25 members - two-thirds of them practicing accountants. The remaining one-third is comprised of professional accountants working in the business sector. The core group meets monthly at HKICPA headquarters. In addition, two sub-groups - one for leisure and networking and the other, focusing on professional development - meet on an as-needed basis.
The professional development sub-group has been organising speaker events. Recent activities have included a seminar given by Carlson Tong, former chairman of KPMG, and another by Anthony Wu, concurrent chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and of the Hospital Authority.
Next on the cards will be a seminar on the economy and investment to be hosted by a well-known financial analyst.
Another initiative that is likely to prove popular among the profession's younger members is mentorship, which is still in the planning stage, says Poon.
The leisure and networking sub-group has also been very active, with many of its initiatives proving to be highly successful.
One example of this was a recent cross-professional networking party that attracted a record 250 attendees, including lawyers, accountants, architects and doctors. Others include a coffee appreciation course, a watch appreciation talk and a culture and heritage class.
One happy 25.35 Group member is Paul She, who was recently promoted to practising director at Mazars CPA, an international firm. Paul She won the institute's qualification programme prize. He joined the 25.35 core group in March this year. Paul She attended the group's Sport and Recreation Club Night, and found the networking opportunities impressive.
"I met a lot of young, successful accountants," he says. "I also had a chance to meet [officials from] the Liaison Office of the Chinese government. They invited our core group members to have a dinner and shared their views on how young accountants [will contribute] to the success of China, and Hong Kong."
Some people might think accountants or the accounting profession to be quite boring, but it's not the case, says Paul She.
CPAs interested in becoming involved in the 25.35 Group can apply via Facebook or by sending an e-mail from the institute's website. HKICPA members pay no additional fees for participating in the group's events.
Full details of the group's activities can be found at: