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Countless opportunities
Published on Friday, 14 Oct 2011
With China in the bag, the US will soon be open to Hong Kong accountants, says Philip Tsai.
Photo: Colin Beere

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) will hold its Career Forum on October 16 from 9am to 6.15pm at Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre. The event will give attendees the chance to hear updates on accounting-related opportunities and the path to becoming a successful CPA.

It is a career path that offers increasingly exciting opportunities both in Hong Kong and further afield, according to HKICPA president Philip Tsai.

"Last year, the mainland became the second-largest economy in the world and one of its banks went public as the largest ever [initial public offering] in world history in a dual listing with Hong Kong," says Tsai.

"The breakneck growth of the Middle Kingdom is not slowing down and Hong Kong's accounting profession is an important player in China's current stage of financial, commercial, and economic development," he adds.

"Aside from opportunities north of our city, Hong Kong accountants are also faced with plenty of overseas prospects... Very soon, we will also be free to work and practice in the United States - meaning our skills will be sought after in the world's two largest economies."

Attendees at the forum will hear about the working life of accountants, take part in career-oriented workshops and have access to practical information to help with their career planning. Students will have lunch with CPAs, meet potential employers and senior executives, and undergo interview training.

"We try to give them some useful tips about... how to prepare themselves," says Horace Ma, chairman of the HKICPA career forum working group.

He says that young professionals from other disciplines may also be attracted to CPA training. 

The key words to describe a CPA are 'competent' and 'versatile' says Susanna Chiu, vice-president of the HKICPA and moderator of the career forum.

She adds that while some students still perceive accountants in the traditional limited sense, opportunities for CPAs are much broader today.

"The roles that accountants play in organisations often go far beyond the stereotypical perceptions of accountants," says Chiu.

"It may not be readily apparent to all employers and business owners, but they can capitalise on professional accountants' training, knowledge, and skill sets to help guide their organisations to success," she adds.

According to Chiu, CPA membership opens many doors, whether in banking or professional accounting practice. "The supply of CPAs does not always fit the demand, so trained accountants are often able to command a premium salary from employers," she says. "The HKICPA has nearly 33,000 members."

CPA training teaches students communication skills, data management and teamwork. "All of these are actually valuable for young graduates to be promoted to leadership," Chiu says. "So this is fantastic training. It's very hard to find a job that gives you such all-round training." 

The forum's first event offers participants a chance to hear about the working life of a CPA. Career exhibitions and three career-oriented workshops follow in the afternoon, graced by more than 20 top potential employers.