What are your current role and responsibilities? How is the work going so far?
As a Senior Manager of AEON Credit Service (Asia) Company Limited, I act as the department head for the accounts department. I prepare the month-end closing, the relevant result announcements and ensure all operations comply with the laws and regulations and with good internal controls. I am also the assigned counsellor of my company as an Authorized Employer of Hong Kong Institute of CPAs. This role involves communicating and presenting extensively to different stakeholders, including junior staff, management, internal and external auditors, lawyers, investors and other operations colleagues and vendors, for them to understand the current accounting standards, and for me to provide advice on how to enhance operational efficiency and internal controls.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role?
As a manager for more than 10 years, I have worked with many junior staff, who range from summer trainees and fresh graduates, to colleague transfers from other industries. Training them, whether on soft skills or accounting knowledge, can be a very challenging process. However, it is rewarding and always a proud moment seeing them grow in their careers, and be promoted to a senior role or move on to a good company. Developing human capital for markets to thrive is not only the role of universities or professional bodies. Managers also play an important role in this and for the accounting industry as a whole.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
I knew that accounting is one of the few professions with voting rights as a functional constituency of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, and so during the summer break after taking Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, I took the course and examination of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Through this opportunity, I gained a good understanding of accounting, and the important role of accountants in Hong Kong’s stock market, one of the largest stock exchanges in the world. I considered how important it is to ensure shareholders fully understand a target company through the full and accurate disclosure of both financial and non-financial information, so that they can make well-informed investment decisions. Because of this, even though I was in the science stream in secondary school, I chose to study accounting at the University of Hong Kong.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years in your career?
These days, there is a lot of focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. In order for Hong Kong to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, the disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be one of the most important steps to control carbon emissions. As GHG emissions are becoming one of the factors influencing lending or investment, as well as another major currency of a company’s financial statement, engaging with stakeholders to gather accurate scope 3 emissions data will be important. Therefore, as a person responsible for the financial reporting of a listed company, I plan to also specialize in the field of ESG. Besides being knowledgeable on the disclosure of GHG emissions, I would also like to act as an advisor for management on how the company can improve on social and corporate governance areas, provide the relevant disclosures for our annual report, and suggest how to balance the financials and the branding of the company through ESG topics.
What are the biggest lessons you have learnt so far from work experience or managers?
My first job after graduating was at a CPA firm, which specialized in insolvency. My main duties were to realize assets from a bankrupt or company being wound-up, report to the court or creditor the latest progress and distribute the assets to the creditors. As we received an average 10 bankruptcy cases and one winding-up case from the Official Receiver a week, I encountered many different kinds of cases and people. There is no standard formula or procedure for realizing assets. In one case, a company declared insolvency and couldn’t settle the outstanding rent. Therefore, they applied for winding-up. After I received this winding-up case, I discovered that the real reason for insolvency was that the company used surplus cash for dividend distribution (just before the winding-up application) instead of rental payment. In the end, after discovering this voidable unfair preference transaction (i.e. dividend payment), the shareholders of the winding-up company agreed to settle the outstanding rent. If I had used a traditional investigation approach of realizing assets, based on the asset breakdowns provided by the auditors, instead of studying the financial statements and understanding the operations of the company, this detail might not have been discovered. Creativity and logical thinking is very important in our daily work.