Images of accountants studiously scrutinising columns of numbers are quickly dismissed when Daniel Lin, partner - assurance, with Grant Thornton, describes some of his experiences working as a certified public accountant (CPA). Lin has fond memories of flying over farmland in southwest England in a helicopter counting sheep as part of an audit process. He also recalls wearing a shiny suit to protect him from radioactivity while he counted nuclear fuel rods in a power station.
Since he returned to Hong Kong in the early 1990's, Lin has found his work still provides him with diverse experiences. Recently, he carried out an audit inspection of an egg farm on the mainland that specialises in providing customers with day-old chickens.
"As a CPA, you have the opportunity to learn something new nearly every day. Whether it is a business experience or meeting a new client, there are always new learning experiences," Lin says.
This is one of the reasons the accounting profession is so rewarding, he says. Working in the profession is not simply about learning how to do an audit more efficiently or how to apply economic standards, Lin says. A large part of the satisfaction comes from the people he meets and interacting with his colleagues.
"As a CPA, you have the opportunity to really get to know your clients well. After 25 years working as a CPA, I would not consider changing jobs," says Lin, who became a CPA in 1985 after he graduated in England.
He says the continually evolving business world ensures that working with the same client involves different challenges and business situations.
For newly qualified CPAs, Lin says the process of working with clients as a junior, senior and, eventually, as a partner of a CPA firm, provides a variety of opportunities and personal satisfaction.
For CPAs who learn from these experiences and want to work outside a CPA practice, Lin says the career options are endless. "From managing a company to running your own business, there are few qualifications that compare to the CPA to prepare people for working in business," says Lin, who has CPA-qualified friends successfully working as a Chinese medical doctor, a dancer, a publisher and a make-up artist.