What have been the three biggest lessons in your career so far?
I learned the importance of listening to and dealing with the concerns and comments of varied interest groups from all over the globe and across all sectors when I worked as a practice fellow at the International Accounting Standards Board in its head office in London from 2006 to 2008. Secondly, I learned that through hard work and relentless research of the voluminous accounting standards, I could resolve financial reporting issues my clients faced and develop mutual trust. This was after I founded my firm about five years ago, specializing in financial reporting areas, and found it very challenging to market such “niche” services at the beginning. Lastly, one of the most memorable projects that I have worked on for my clients after I left a Big Four firm was a very large bond restructuring of a listed company in Hong Kong. It broadened my professional knowledge and work experience to cover not just financial reporting but also fundraising and bond restructuring.
What do you like most about specializing in financial reporting?
I have specialized in dealing with financial reporting matters since I moved from being an audit senior to a technical accounting specialist at a Big Four firm. Throughout all these years, it’s been satisfying sharing my experience to help engagement teams in a Big Four firm, and now CPAs working in non-Big Four audit firms and in listed companies, to deal with complicated financial reporting and auditing issues. I want to help CPAs in Hong Kong, where regulators are expecting a high quality of work from auditors and listed companies, and in an environment where accounting standards are getting more voluminous and complex.
In what ways has your CPA qualification helped you in your career?
It has been essential in helping to develop my career. Of course, there are other factors – I have honed my communication, presentation and analytical skills through my more than 20 years’ of experience as a CPA. I hope that the professionals I have worked with have benefitted from my knowledge and experience, and together all of us can help to build the confidence and aspirations of future accountants.
How do you view the future of corporate reporting?
I have heard from many preparers that they find it difficult to “master” and see the underlying principles of recently issued accounting standards such as Hong Kong Financial Reporting Standard (HKFRS) 9 Financial Instruments, HKFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers and HKFRS 16 Leases. Also, I have seen that the number of pages of financial statements has been increasing, making it more difficult for users of financial statements to focus on areas that they should be focusing on. I think “boiler-plate” disclosures in financial statements of many corporates is another area the standard-setter should work on to improve the quality of financial reporting.
What is your general advice for dealing with common application issues of HKFRSs?
I am a big fan of “practice makes perfect.” To equip themselves with more knowledge on how to deal with common application issues of HKFRSs, I recommend CPAs to attend more training programmes on HKFRSs, for example those hosted by the Institute. CPAs should also read regular accounting and financial reporting updates issued by the Institute or other regulators, which will help them understand what the common application issues are.