How can “growth mindsets” help one go beyond and shape the future?

Kit Wong, Paul She and Lanco Leung

Experts chime in on the latest topics in accountancy and business

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Kit Wong, Paul She and Lanco Leung


Second opinions

Kit Wong, Director of Education and Training, Hong Kong Institute of CPAs and an Institute member

The world is evolving rapidly, so too is the business environment. This rapid evolution is driven by factors including technological advancement, the proliferation of innovative business models, changing societal expectations and more. These changes have had a significant impact on the role of accountants in society, creating new and higher expectations of them.

Accountants are no longer left only to deal with numbers, but also to analyse and advise. In the future, the results generated by artificial intelligence, identifying the root causes of the issues, coming up with different alternatives, and articulating the messages to stakeholders will become even more necessary skills for professional accountants.

However, change isn’t always welcomed with open arms. Some people succeed under change while others – who are equally talented – do not. Why is this? It is because mindset plays a crucial process. Professionals need to have a mindset dedicated to growth. Building up a “growth mindset” allows us to improve our skills, knowledge and expertise – all allowing us to better advise our clients and stakeholders.

The four key ingredients to growth are: challenges; mistakes; efforts; and feedback. Here are a few behaviours to help continuously improve ourselves with a growth mindset:

  • Embrace challenging situations: Work through challenges rather than avoiding them and seeing them as threats.
  • Persist in the face of obstacles: Treat them as learning opportunities rather than getting discouraged when making mistakes.
  • See efforts as a pathway to success: Effort is an important part of the learning process rather than something that you must do when you are not good enough.
  • Learn from pain: Appreciate constructive feedback rather than getting defensive or taking it personally.

For future generations of accountants, the Institute’s Qualification Programme (QP) aims at qualifying accountants with the agility needed to meet future market needs. By embracing the challenges through the QP, the candidates will grow and discover a plethora of relevant skills by completing training programmes, passing professional examinations and acquiring practical experience under an authorized employer or supervisor. In the longer term, we hope that these future-ready accountants will succeed not only in accounting but also in an increasingly wide range of specializations, sectors and locations.

“The four key ingredients to growth are: challenges; mistakes; efforts; and feedback.”

Paul She, Practising Director, Mazars Hong Kong and an Institute member

A sharing by one of my seniors, who was engaged in liquidation, inspired me to enter the profession. I learned from him that an accounting career can bring us in touch with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and offers the opportunity to meet interesting people and encounter interesting things. For me, a growth mindset opens up a dynamic and exciting career, and one I have enjoyed for many years. CPAs with growth mindsets are at a competitive advantage to take up the diversified roles available, but you must have the desire for learning and self-improvement.

CPAs should always be proactive. But how? Asking “why” can help you gain insights into what you need to do differently to achieve a goal. Hence, rather than knowing “how” and doing the tasks like a robot, always ask “why” to understand the purpose, and the pros and cons. By doing so, you can be able to overcome the challenges in the ever-changing business world.

In the long-term, the opportunities for accounting professionals will continue to grow and expand. Striving to add value to yourselves is the key to staying ahead in the profession. You need to show your strengths at work and be able to solve problems for your companies and clients. Accountants nowadays need to be more compatible and open-minded and to stay current with changes in the industry.

The CPA designation has long been a symbol of professionalism, representing competency in specialized and professional knowledge and skills. With the changing demands for accountants’ services, professionalism requires growth. Increasingly, accountants must demonstrate transparency and integrity. Transparency enables our stakeholders to understand the information we give to them and the decisions we make. Integrity means that our stakeholders can trust our judgement, knowing that we make decisions that help them, yet do not harm society. Together these values build the professional image of accountants in society.

For the next generation of accountants, the new QP incorporates more business-related workshops, where students need to investigate real-life scenarios and present the analysis. Group discussions drive students to share their knowledge and think in multiple angles – a key element of a growth mindset. You will be capable of responding to the various business opportunities, taking on the challenges and excelling in the rapidly changing business world.

“Asking ‘why’ can help you gain insights into what you need to do differently to achieve a goal.”

Lanco Leung, Accounting Manager, Swire Coca-Cola Ltd. and an Institute member

Creating value is important in an ever-changing world, especially in our profession. As professional accountants, we need to set ourselves up to be relevant and to know what is going on in the world. This is a constant process, yet by going beyond our scope of work we can create value.

Having been an internal auditor and worked in a finance department, I need to take the initiative to understand the operation of other departments and give advice to colleagues. To create value, we have to analyse the risks in different areas including finance and security. Take for instance external factors such as volatile oil prices and changes in regulatory regimes, which may pose risks to the company. During the pandemic, it is essential to keep an eye on cost control and cash flow. Avoiding liquidity risk is the priority.

Assessing the possible impact of risks and the probability of their occurrence – tasks of many accountants including internal auditors – requires a growth mindset, so as to be aware of how the business environment is changing.

By making the company’s operation more efficient through cost-effective suggestions to reduce risks, accountants can contribute to shaping the future of their organization or clients. When the departments’ key performance indicators improve after your recommendations are adopted, you have a great sense of achievement.

To succeed in this era, accountants must develop expertise in addition to their accounting skills, such as in taxation, governance, risk management and restructuring – that is, to develop a growth mindset. With our strong analytical skills and interpersonal skills, accountants can contribute to a wide range of specializations.

With a growth mindset complementing our CPA training, we are well positioned to go beyond and shape the future. Through the QP, I was trained in a wide range of skills. My ability to apply professional knowledge and skills was strengthened and I learned new presentation skills. These skills are very helpful for my daily work, enabling me to provide explanation to figures, give an analysis for the operation and offer recommendations.

By understanding the real-world working situations, reading news to learn about the international economy and political environment, attending the Institute’s continuing professional development events, and understanding your business operations, you can keep improving your skills and mindset.

“With a growth mindset complementing our CPA training, we are well positioned to go beyond and shape our future.”

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