I was interested in numbers in high school. That prompted me to take Principles of Accounts in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination as well as the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) examination, which increased my confidence. I continued studying accounting at Lingnan University.
I am now a partner at Mazars in Hong Kong and an equity partner in the global Mazars organisation. I am the signing partner for some audit assignments such as IPOs and due diligence, handling investigations and litigation support work. This also involves quality reviews.
As a partner and head of the audit department, I look after the budget, recruitment, staff training and appraisals. This allows me to interact with the younger generation and understand how they think about accounting. I enjoy talking to them and understanding how they think to formulate a strategy that fits their career path.
I think a major challenge in accounting now is resources and how to recruit adequate staff
I communicate frequently with other audit heads in Mazars offices all over the world, including Europe, the US and mainland China, to arrange workflows. We work together to ensure the work is done efficiently. As an executive board member, I also help manage the Hong Kong office.
Hong Kong has only a few industries, such as financial services, logistics, transportation and retail. To carry out audit work in these sectors, quite often we have to interact with Mazars colleagues in mainland China and other countries.
As accounting professionals, we have opportunities to engage in activities such as IPOs, as Hong Kong is one of the world’s major stock markets. Many entities still prefer to list their companies in Hong Kong, and IPO services remain a key area for us.
In M&A deals in the past, many foreign investors were looking to invest in mainland China and we had plenty of opportunities to do due diligence for accounting, tax and M&A. This trend has been reversing. More Chinese entities are now acquiring businesses outside mainland China, and we can provide services if they are going to buy a business in Hong Kong or connect them to other Mazars offices.
I think a major challenge in accounting now is resources and how to recruit adequate staff. There is a steady stream of accounting graduates but fewer are looking to join accounting firms, maybe because people are putting more emphasis on work-life balance and they believe the work is demanding. At Mazars, one solution we are considering is a shared services centre that would allow us to outsource our work to other locations and recruit people from other regions such as Europe and South-East Asia.
I have some suggestions for those who would like to pursue a career in the accounting field. First, learn languages other than English and Chinese, because the world is becoming more international. Second, adopt a more international mindset. Third, develop some kind of IT knowledge such as data analytics and digital transformation. Last, keep in mind that auditing is not the only career an accounting graduate can consider. There are other options such as forensic accounting, corporate finance and wealth management.