Be a good sport, mate

Nury Vittachi

Hong Kong’s humorist on why you should always take pride in your accounting qualifications – even if you happen to be a celebrity

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Nury Vittachi


Many people have a personal condition that they prefer to keep hidden away, such as depression, anxiety, or accounting qualifications.

Take the famous wrestler known as Ace the Animal, or D’Lo Brown, for example. He’s fully qualified as a Certified Public Accountant but never talks about it.

He’d been bean-counting full time when he felt the call to change his name and devote his life to lifting people off their feet and slamming them to the floor with an ear-piercing scream.

(CPA work does that to you after a while.)

Mr. Brown is now 46. If he goes back to working for a CPA firm, I hope he’ll keep his adopted name. “We’re sending one of our top staff to audit your company. His name is Ace the Animal and he can kill with his bare hands.” That should make sure clients behave nicely.

There are other famous sporting CPAs around the world, of course, but I must admit that I have been surprised to see them emerging right here in Hong Kong.

People who follow Institute news will know that our own CPAs recently won badminton and table tennis competitions, and scored big at dragon boat racing, the Hong Kong Marathon and so on.

Over the past 15 years, marathon running well and truly came to Hong Kong. This bizarre craze, once limited to the West, has five fun stages: 1) You go out for a run to train. 2) You feel awful. 3) You give up and go home. 4) You eat a whole tub of ice cream to cheer yourself up. 5) Rinse and repeat.

After a few months, you can actually jog to the end of your street.

That’s when you sign up for the Hong Kong Marathon.

So one February morning, this writer and an IT finance friend found ourselves in a huge, stamping crowd early in the morning in Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

The starting gun boomed and the massive cluster of shivering people started to move. I ran. I flew. My feet were a blur. In fact, I can honestly say, the first part of the race was hugely enjoyable. Then I got tired. “How much further is it to the end?” I asked my companion. He replied: “The end? We haven’t reached the starting line yet.”

He was right – there are so many runners that you have a long run before you get to the official starting point.

The rest was a grim slog that seemed endless. “I don’t even know where we are,” said my companion after what felt like days. “Probably one of the southern China provinces, or perhaps Tibet,” I replied.

We complain, but it’s good that people in accounting and finance are getting into fitness. Scientists say that the “deskier” your job, the more hours you need to spend moving.

But people in Asia are still a bit behind the West, so I was thrilled when an Asian man became the first 100-year-old person to run a marathon. I marvelled at a newspaper picture of ancient, white-bearded Punjab-born Fauja Singh crossing the finish line at a race in Canada.

On a whim I looked up the website of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I found something even more poignant. There were eight people who finished AFTER HIM. Can you imagine the humiliation of being beaten in a race by a man who makes the Rolling Stones look like fresh-faced children?

Talking of those lads, Mick Jagger of course studied accounting before unaccountably switching to a career as a Rock God instead. He’s thin, fit, and there was even a hit song recently about his dancing prowess, called “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5. (Original title: “Dance Like a Man in his 70s.”)

A colleague tells me that The Iceman, a mixed martial arts fighter whose real name is Chuck Liddell, also studied accounting.

That would also be a good name for a CPA. “You will shortly be audited by The Iceman. Please ensure your paperwork is in order. And be very, very nice to him.” ​

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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August 2019
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