December has come around quickly for me this year. I would say that the role of president requires access to a time machine in order to achieve everything.
As this is my last message as president, I wanted to re-examine the aims I set out in January for the Institute under my leadership. I set out six aims for the year, (i) enhancing member communications, engagement and support, (ii) providing inputs and members views to government regarding audit regulatory reform, (iii) continuing the QP upgrade, (iv) strengthening relationships with the Mainland and ensuring our CPAs can have successful careers in the Mainland, (v) offering further specialist training and structured CPD, with easy access, and finally, (vi) developing the Seventh Long Range Plan. Over the year I believe we have made good progress on many of these fronts.
Membership engagement was very important to me during my presidency. I have tried to meet as many of you as possible and attend as many different events to get an idea of how our members from various specializations and stages of their careers are thriving in these competitive, fast-changing times. I have used what I learnt to ensure the Council and the Institute tailor the services offered to the needs of members.
The Digital Strategy Project will help the Institute to communicate and engage with members in the ways they expect in the digital era. More and more, people expect to be able to access all they need via smartphones, and the Institute will work to provide mobile-accessible content, such as A Plus which released a new fully mobile-supportive version in August.
With women making up almost three-fifths of our students, we must work as a profession to ensure they can combine successful careers and family lives. In March, I spoke at an event organized by the Association of Women Accountants (Hong Kong) and EY to celebrate International Women’s Day. I spoke about my career path and honoured the great achievements of women. We should support young women joining the profession, and as employers I encourage you to support the government’s breastfeeding-friendly workplaces initiative by providing hygienic, quiet and private places.
“The accounting profession faces many challenges and changes, but I will continue to diligently support the profession and try to ensure its bright future.”
As well as supporting members, the Institute must continue to play an active role in the development of Hong Kong and China.
In Hong Kong in October, the new Chief Executive Carrie Lam set out her aims in her government’s first policy address. We are especially happy that she chose to support small businesses through lower tax rates for the first HK$2 million in profits, and research and development through tax credits. The Institute has long been campaigning for such support and must help the administration introduce these valuable and necessary policies. Regulatory reform and new anti-money laundering regulations are two further areas that will affect the industry in 2018, and the Institute must continue to support the government in their smooth implementation.
This year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to the Mainland. Since then much has changed, but Hong Kong has always acted as a conduit between China and the world. As I highlighted at the “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” summit in London in September, China’s transition from a destination of investment to a source means we must adapt the services we provide and help Mainland companies to operate overseas, and in partnership with others.
As one of my last acts as president I visited the Mainland to oversee the signing of an agreement forming alliances between CPA firms in Hong Kong and Guangdong. This will enable firms to strengthen their service capacity and to embrace the many new opportunities under the Greater Bay Area development initiative.
The accounting profession faces many challenges and changes, but I will continue to diligently support the profession and try to ensure its bright future, and I look forward to the Institute’s Seventh Long Range Plan which aims to surmount some of the challenges. I will fondly remember this year and view it as one of the pinnacles of my career, and I hope I have served you well.
For the last time,