Hong Kong is facing its most serious outbreak of COVID-19 cases. While it can be difficult to return to lockdown conditions, we must all do our bit to stem this outbreak, protect our health and our vital healthcare resources. Remember that although we should practise social distancing, staying in contact with family and friends is important for our mental well-being. A phone call or an instant message can go a long way. Let’s get through this new challenge together.
The pandemic has delayed a lot of events and new initiatives we had planned for the year. Nonetheless I’m pleased that we released the Strategic Plan 2020-2022 last month, which details how we will build trust in our profession and prepare for the future. I was interviewed this month alongside the Institute’s Chief Executive Margaret Chan about the plan, and you can find the article here. We also filmed a video introduction to the plan, which will be available soon.
One of the strategic plan’s objectives is for our services and support to be recognized as meeting the needs of members and students. To increase our engagement with members in the public sector, early in the month we held separate and focused outreach sessions with the Inland Revenue Department, Treasury, and Audit Commission. During the meetings, we discussed the role of the Institute and our activities and took questions from attendees. Plans are being developed to set up an interest group for our members in the public sector, to address their specific needs, support them in their career development and offer them networking opportunities.
This month, we also met virtually with the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) to discuss ways that we could work together in developing Hong Kong’s financial services industry and promote Hong Kong internationally. Working with organizations like the FSDC is one way we can advocate for our profession, and strengthen our city’s leading role as an international financial centre. During the meeting, we discussed areas of mutual interest and ways to collaborate together in the future. The FSDC will soon have one of our Council’s government-appointed lay members, Dr Au King Lun, as its Executive Director, which will help to strengthen our relationship. I look forward to the two bodies working closely together.
“One of the strategic plan’s objectives is for our services and support to be recognized as meeting the needs of members and students.”
You may have recently seen a few articles and videos on social media about the Best Corporate Governance Awards from the Institute. This year, the awards are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and we held a press conference to call for entries early in July. Corporate governance is the foundation for sustainable development and market integrity. This is particularly important in times of uncertainty and market volatility. Companies with sustainable environmental, social and governance practices are more likely to outperform market counterparts during an economic downturn. Investors need to know how COVID-19 is affecting the operations of companies they invest in, and how it will affect their future. The awards are open for entries now, so if your organization wants to demonstrate its corporate governance excellence, please do not hesitate to submit your entry. Being the Chair of the Judging Panel, I look forward to reviewing the entrants later in the year, before the awards presentation in December.
I had the opportunity to share about how small firms can embrace change and become more resilient in the current economic climate during a webinar organized by the International Federation of Accountants’ (IFAC) Small and Medium Practices (SMP) Advisory Group. During the webinar, “How small firms can evolve in the COVID-19 environment,” we discussed how SMPs can stay relevant in the new norm and ride on the opportunity to accelerate digitalization as well as to build an advisory practice. It was interesting to discuss the issues with my fellow members of the advisory group from around the world. Although we face different local challenges in dealing with COVID-19, we can learn from the practices of accountants in other jurisdictions. It is important to remember that we are not alone in dealing with this pandemic, and that while there are differences between countries, many accountants face similar challenges. You can find a recording of the webinar on IFAC’s YouTube channel.