From ledgers to legends

Nury Vittachi

Hong Kong’s humorist on why accountants should stick to the numbers – unless they plan on becoming action movie stars


Many news articles are making a big thing about the fact that Simu Liu, an actor born in Mainland China, is Hollywood’s first Asian blockbuster movie superhero.

But much more important for us is the fact that Liu studied business management and worked at Deloitte before putting on his tight, muscle-emphasizing crime-fighter costume.

I have long suspected that most accountants would, given the chance, also put on superhero costumes and go save the world at least when no one is looking. But how exactly did Liu jump from the Big Four to battling supervillains?

Apparently, Liu was a victim of Asian parenting, judging by interviews he has given. Born in freezing Harbin but raised in almost equally chilly Toronto, he wanted to become an actor, but his parents encouraged him to get a serious job – which is why he ended up in the Toronto office of Deloitte.

Lucky for him, he lost his job at the age of 23 following a restructuring in 2012, and, thus, had an excuse to tell his parents that he had obediently done what they had asked, and that it was time for him to try doing what he wanted to do. This led to Liu working as a stunt man before becoming an actor, and ending up wearing skin-tight gear as superhero Shang-Chi from the new Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

One social media commentator said that Liu was “too good-looking to be an accountant,” which will delight people in that profession who enjoy being outraged.

But there are good-looking people in finance. George Clooney, heartthrob of many, recently also admitted having a finance-related job. He was a financial planner selling insurance policies. “The first day I sold one, the guy died,” he told the Evening Standard. To Clooney, that must have been a message from the universe that it was time for a career change.

This prompted me to check whether any of Hong Kong’s current hottest stars came from finance. “Nope,” said my contact in showbiz. Local talent is nearly always “manufactured by entertainment companies,” mostly from attractive young people who are either dancers or dance teachers.

However, Hong Kong’s top heartthrobs at the moment are two pop groups, Mirror and Error. While most came from dancing, others have business links.

Tiger Yau of Mirror came from a family in the clothing business so he decided to run his own clothing label called Dézert on the side. His bandmate Ian Chan decided to launch an online shop called iNDIPANDANT.

One of the lads in the group called Error is known mysteriously as 193. But people in the Hong Kong fashion industry know him as Denis Kwok Ka-chun. The 31-year-old worked for five years in that sector. Despite his fame as a singer, 193 also decided to keep one foot in his previous industry and launch a business on the side. “I have my own ideas about launching a brand,” he hinted to reporters last year.

However, it is now clear that “my own ideas” may not be quite the right phrase. He launched a brand called “LILABOC,” short for “Life is like a box of chocolates,” a line from the movie Forrest Gump, and the logo is a stick figure of a man on a bench, inspired by the poster of the same movie.

Is there any hope of pretty young men with rather questionable levels of skills in spelling and originality making it big in business?

You might think otherwise, but these lads will have the last word, I can tell you.

This writer visited the Mirror-linked online shop iNDIPANDANT just now. Almost every item on the whole website was labelled as “Sold out.”

With that level of success, you know what each of the boys from Mirror needs now, right? Yes, a good accountant.

Nury Vittachi is a bestselling author, columnist, lecturer and TV host. He wrote three storybooks for the Institute, May Moon and the Secrets of the CPAs, May Moon Rescues the World Economy and May Moon’s Book of Choices

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