A Plus

Institute news

July 2018



Career survey highlights Hong Kong’s mobile, dynamic accounting profession

Hong Kong CPAs remain in high demand, while employers face recruitment challenges, according to the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs’ 2018 Career Survey Report, released this month. The report combines the results of the Institute’s 2018 membership and studentship surveys, and focused on three topics: employment prospects, earning power, and CPA qualification and development.

Respondents were found to be moving between accounting firms, from firms to the corporate environment, or changing fields, indicating that accounting is a very dynamic and mobile profession. In the year prior to the survey, 25 percent of member respondents and 35 percent of student respondents changed jobs. Of these, 65 percent of members and 76 percent of students received a pay rise.

On changing jobs, 25 percent of members and 35 percent of students have changed employment, and of them, one-third have changed from traditional to non-traditional accounting functions including advisory, consulting, specialist services, legal, investment and finance, information technology, or learning and development.

“The accounting profession opens doors to rewarding and varied career paths for the young professionals,” said Jonathan Ng, the Institute’s Executive Director of Qualification and Education. “In this new era of Accounting Plus, the accounting profession has developed to be something much more than traditional accounting and auditing. CPAs today combine their accounting knowledge with higher-order analysis skills and technical abilities to improve professional offering and add value to businesses.”

Another key finding is that the profession continues to be one of the highest-paying professions in Hong Kong. The studentship survey revealed that university graduates enjoy fast-growing remuneration after joining the profession, with average annual remuneration reaching HK$283,000 by the third year as Qualification Programme (QP) students. With the improving economy, the percentage of membership reporting pay rises increased from 84 percent to 87 percent year-on-year, while the percentage of member respondents receiving a bonus has increased from 79 percent to 80 percent.

In terms of views on the QP’s effectiveness, 65 percent of newly qualified member respondents said that QP training was adequate to meet their job requirements, while 79 percent of student respondents believe that QP was useful for their career development.

Respondents also expressed dealing with hiring challenges, with more than 80 percent of member respondents at senior and middle-management level at the Big Four encountering difficulties in recruiting, while 96 percent found it challenging to retain talent.

The membership survey was conducted from November to December 2017 with 3,310 respondents, and the studentship survey was conducted from December 2017 to January 2018 with 3,887 respondents. The full report is available on the Institute’s website.


Employment change in the past 12 months

Percentage of respondents who changed employment



Employment market for professional accountants



Member and student respondents who changed field



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Institute supports NGOs on governance
On 11 July, the Institute sponsored and hosted the latest non-governmental organization (NGO) Directors’ Luncheon of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), as part of the Institute’s role as sole strategic partner of the federation’s NGO Governance Platform Project. Special guest David Sun, Director of Audit of the Hong Kong government and a past president of the Institute, attended the event and spoke on NGO governance and public trust to over 150 participants.

Welcome remarks were given by Kennedy Liu, Vice Chairman of the HKCSS, Alex Wong, Assistant Director (Subventions) at the Social Welfare Department, and Institute President Eric Tong. The luncheons allow NGO board members to share their experience among themselves and with Accountant Ambassadors, and aim to promote good corporate governance among social services organizations.

This Institute’s social responsibility programme “CPA for NGO” also hosted an evening workshop on budgets, forecasts and financial planning on 6 July. The workshop aimed to provide NGO treasurers and board members with adequate knowledge relating to reserve policy, auditing, internal control and governance. Thirty-one of the Institute’s Accountant Ambassadors supported the event by sharing their experiences and discussing case studies.


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Institute co-hosts roundtables on global standard setting
As part of the outreach activities undertaken by the Monitoring Group in connection with its proposals on changes to international auditing and ethical standard setting, the Institute co-hosted two roundtables in late June.

These international discussions could result in major changes that impact the auditing and ethical standards followed by Hong Kong auditors. The roundtables were chaired by a senior staff member of the United Kingdom’s Financial Reporting Council, and were attended by representatives of the Institute, Hong Kong and Singapore auditors, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the International Federation of Accountants, the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators, the Global Accounting Alliance, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, the Japanese and Korean professional bodies and the Japanese Financial Services Authority.


Best Corporate Governance Awards 2018 invites entries

The Institute invites companies and organizations in the private and public sectors to submit entries for the Best Corporate Governance Awards (BCGA) 2018. This year, the BCGA includes a new award for good corporate governance practices, which is based on self-nominations and aimed at encouraging smaller companies and public sector/not-for-profit organizations to improve their corporate governance. The deadline for entries is 13 August. More details on the awards can be found here

2018 Honours List

The Institute sends its heartiest congratulations to the following members who received honours from the Hong Kong government for their distinguished service. Congratulations to Past President Brian Stevenson (Gold Bauhinia Star), and past ex-officio Council member Martin Siu (Silver Bauhinia Star). Institute President Eric Tong received the Chief Executive’s Commendation for Community Service.

FCP’s strategic finance course
The strategic finance module of the Financial Controllership Programme will run on 18 August, 25 August and 1 September. The module, led by Eddie Mak, Group Treasurer at Kerry Logistics Network, aims to enhance the technical skills and practical knowledge required of a financial controller in strategic finance, including capital planning, bank financing, treasury and risk management, debt capital market and hedging products, FinTech, equity capital market and mergers and acquisitions. Interested members should enrol by 8 August.


Disciplinary findings

Baker Tilly Hong Kong Limited and Au Yiu Kwan, CPA (practising)

Complaint: Failure or neglect to observe, maintain or otherwise apply professional standards issued by the Institute.

Baker Tilly Hong Kong Limited (BTHK) audited the 2016 financial statements of a Hong Kong listed company, EganaGoldfeil (Holdings) Limited and its subsidiaries. Au was the director who had substantial involvement in the audit.

The Institute received a referral from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) about auditing irregularities in relation to the audit of the 2006 financial statements in respect of certain sales and purchase transactions and the impairment assessment of (i) intangible assets; (ii) available-for-sale financial assets; (iii) other receivables; and (iv) promissory notes. The respondents admitted the complaints against them.

Decisions and reasons: All the respondents were reprimanded. The Disciplinary Committee ordered BTHK and Au to pay penalties of HK$250,000 and HK$100,000 respectively. In addition, the respondents were ordered to pay costs of HK$156,669.90, which include the costs of FRC. When making its decision, the committee considered the particulars of the breaches committed in this case, the parties’ submissions, and the respondents’ conduct throughout the proceedings.

Tang Wai Hung, CPA (practising), Chow Chi Kit, CPA (practising) and W.H. Tang & Partners CPA Limited

Complaint: Failure or neglect to observe, maintain or otherwise apply professional standards issued by the Institute.

W.H. Tang issued an unqualified auditor’s opinion on the 2012 financial statements of a Hong Kong listed company, China Technology Solar Power Holdings Limited (formerly known as Soluteck Holdings Limited) and its subsidiaries. Tang was the engagement director and Chow was the engagement quality control reviewer of the audit.

The Institute received a referral from the FRC about non-compliance with financial reporting standards and auditing irregularities in relation to an acquisition recorded in the 2012 financial statements. The deficiencies concerned (i) measurement of convertible bonds issued as consideration; (ii) recognition and measurement of identifiable assets acquired, liabilities assumed and the related goodwill; and (iii) impairment assessment of goodwill. The respondents admitted the complaints against them.

Decisions and reasons: All the respondents were reprimanded. The Disciplinary Committee ordered Tang, Chow and W.H. Tang to pay penalties of HK$100,000, HK$75,000 and HK$150,000 respectively. Further, the practising certificates issued to Tang and Chow shall be cancelled from 24 June 2018 and the same shall not be issued to Tang for two years and Chow for 18 months. In addition, the respondents were ordered to pay costs of HK$103,483.20, which include costs of the FRC. When making its decision, the committee took into account the circumstances of the case, including the particulars of the breaches, the respondents’ personal circumstances and their conduct throughout the proceedings.

Details of the disciplinary findings are available at the Institute’s website