My father was influential in my choice to pursue an accounting career. He would remind me, ‘come rain or shine, businesses will always need accountants’, even though he was not one himself.
The quote stuck with me and encouraged me to study accounting at university, as I yearned for a stable career. Little did I know at the time that my accounting career would later bring me to many new places and help me forge many friendships.
I am currently the regional finance manager for a German sourcing company based in Hong Kong. I am responsible for overseeing accounting, finance, HR and administrative functions. I love my current role as there is never a dull moment, with many problems to solve, especially when dealing with people in various positions from different backgrounds, which requires some finesse to convince them to do things correctly and according to procedure.
By learning to code you can future-proof yourself
Like many of my peers, I started my accounting career by joining a Big Four audit firm – KPMG Malaysia, 15 years ago. The hours were long and the work was taxing, but joining a Big Four firm guaranteed the best accounting training and exposure.
Dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity remains one of the main challenges that accountants must face. This potentially results in our work being questioned or even challenged, either by management or the authorities. One such uncertainty we have to face right now is how and when to account for the global minimum corporate tax rate. It does not help that OECD countries have yet to agree and pass legislation on the finer details, such as non-deductibles, double taxation and timescales.
Often, accountants can only wait patiently until more concrete information is presented. We constantly have to update our forecasts based on new information.
For those who have just started their accounting journey, learning to code can be very useful. From creating Excel macros to programming in Python to process large swathes of data, coding skills will take you far in your professional journey, as more employers seek such skills. By learning to code you also future-proof yourself, as many future opportunities will involve coding in conjunction with digital transformation.
Convincing management to allocate resources for process automation may not be easy but can be well worth the effort
Accountants should always look for opportunities for process automation. Automation of repetitive accounting processes can help reduce unnecessary labour costs and free up the accountant’s time to focus on more value-adding projects, with the additional benefit of reducing human-related errors. It may be no easy feat convincing management to allocate resources to develop process automation, but the fruits of the labour may be well worth the effort. Some minor automation can also be achieved through some coding knowledge and some time allocated.
Where possible, try to attend accounting networking events such as the ones organised by ACCA. The face-to-face exchange of information and ideas are an integral part of growing as an accountant.
I am fortunate enough to have experienced the best of what Hong Kong has to offer: dragon boats and hiking. I was introduced to a dragon boat team by my boss and now have weekly training sessions that I look forward to. Hong Kong also has some wonderful hiking trails such as the Dragon’s Back, the Peak and Lamma Island.