Happy Mid-Autumn Festival. While our celebrations – like everything this year – will more low-key in nature, we can still celebrate the event with our loved ones, and be thankful that the third wave of COVID-19 appears to have subsided. Before marking Mid-Autumn, we have the 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC. Regrettably, the Institute had to cancel the National Day celebration dinner this year due to COVID-19, yet this is still a time of commemoration and joy for the future.
This month, the Institute held one of its first in-person events at Wu Chung House this year. The QP Top Student Award and Scholarship Presentation Ceremony 2020 celebrated, in an appropriate socially-distanced manner, the achievements of top performing Qualification Programme (QP) students and university scholarship recipients. Also, in memory of the late Past President Edward Chow, a new memorial prize in his name was established with donations from his family.
It was an enjoyable afternoon meeting with the winners and discussing their careers and how COVID-19 has affected their lives with them. I would like to thank the Institute staff for arranging the ceremony, as it required significant thought and consideration to ensure that all the recipients and guests could attend while managing social distancing requirements.
Speaking to the award recipients reminded me of the importance of the QP examinations. Passing the examinations and obtaining the CPA designation is what these students were striving for. After the cancellation of the June session it is vital that we hold the December examination session, so as to not deprive these young accountants in training of the opportunity to prove themselves. Holding the examinations is also necessary for the long-term health of the profession in ensuring that there are enough newly qualified accountants for the market. This month, the Institute announced a refined contingency plan for the examinations. This contingency plan provides the necessary reserve dates in case the original dates are affected by a new wave of COVID-19 while balancing the needs of the stakeholders.
Today’s virtual world may feel disconnected, but there are still opportunities to connect with others. This was demonstrated by the Institute’s PAIB Virtual Conference 2020, which was co-hosted with Bloomberg this month. The professional accountants in business (PAIBs) who watched the conference got to hear from renowned speakers about responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic situation, how technology is transforming business models, and how to succeed in uncertainty by managing organizational risks during the pandemic.
Margaret Chan, the Institute’s Chief Executive and Registrar, and I met with the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) Chairman, Kelvin Wong, and Florence Wong, Acting Chief Executive Officer. We discussed the work of the two bodies – the Institute’s Strategic Plan 2020-2022 in particular – and our continued cooperation in the future. A good working relationship with the FRC is important for maintaining Hong Kong’s status as a leading global financial centre.
The Financial Industry Recruitment Scheme for Tomorrow (FIRST) was launched on 30 September. The job creation scheme will support 1,500 new full-time jobs in the financial services sector through a subsidy of HK$10,000 per month for 12 months for each eligible new hire to employers. CPA firms and corporate practices are able to register for the scheme, which is administered by the Financial Services Development Council. Please consider applying to the scheme and creating new positions in your firms to support the development of the profession.
Finally, being an insolvency practitioner, I took part in a roundtable this month hosted by A Plus on the government’s draft corporate rescue bill. You can read the thoughts of the panel in the article Rethinking the restart process. As CPAs, it is important for us to provide our professional opinions during consultations in order for regulations and laws to be appropriately drafted.
The weather feels like it is changing, which means cooler days are ahead. In this time of COVID-19 it is important that when the weather changes, we stay healthy, take care of ourselves and our families, and prepare for our futures.
“A good working relationship with the FRC is important for maintaining Hong Kong’s status as a leading global financial centre.”