David Chan

As a Senior Economist of the Hong Kong government, David Chan is perhaps experiencing the most challenging time of his career yet. His workload has intensified driven by the immediate need to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through government policies and measures. He tells A Plus how his skills as a CPA keep him focused during this time of uncertainty, and what excites him about the future of the profession

What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?

I’m a Senior Economist at the Office of the Government Economist, which is under the Hong Kong Financial Secretary’s Office. I provide analysis on the Hong Kong economy and conduct economic research to help policymakers within government bureaux and departments to formulate their various policies and measures. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years, and during the last two years I’ve been part of the Human Resources Planning and Poverty Coordination Unit. My role includes supporting the human resources and poverty alleviation committees with evidence-based research reports to aid their discussions. In terms of human resources planning, our research is focused on areas such as upskilling, talent flow and labour market development. With poverty alleviation, I conduct research related to economic growth and income distribution. I make sure statistics are collected from different sources and angles to ensure a holistic and objective research report. I enjoy the role a lot. Though we aren’t policymakers ourselves, our findings help them to make key decisions.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?

My career in the practising sector required a rather strict adherence to the principles of professional standards. In my current capacity as a researcher for the government, instead of sticking to hard rules, I need to utilize different economic tools to analyse the complex and ever-changing real world problems. Because we provide secretariat support to high-level committees, it is rewarding to see our team’s work reported and shared among policy decision-makers, and also made accessible to the public.

What inspired you to become an accountant?

After graduation, I, like many of my peers, was a bit lost when it came to choosing a career. But after going through job interviews, I was quite impressed by the professional image of the people I met in the accounting firms, so I chose to become an accountant. They were energetic, funny and had a great working attitude. While I majored in economics and was really interested in it, I saw that the two career paths had commonalities – both require a solid understanding of economic principles that are broadly applicable to human and business behaviours, and a mindset that is open to new knowledge and techniques to assist in problem-solving. Besides that, my career as an accountant gave me the opportunity to meet a number of lifelong friends and teachers who still selflessly support me today.

Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years in your career? 

Our jobs are ever-changing. I think the new artificial intelligence (AI) developments will bring vast changes to the forms and ways of work in the next five to 10 years, even for us in professional services. We need to keep learning to not be left behind. In recent years, I have been attracted by big data analytics, machine learning and AI techniques, which I would like to apply to my work. I think these would allow me to explore new research horizons, extract more insights, and increase my efficiency at work.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?

I guess it is the situation that’s happening now. COVID-19 brought a shock to our lives and work, and the whole world is combating this invisible enemy with unprecedented efforts. For example, different teams within the government are working hard to help individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus with the two rounds of Anti-epidemic Fund measures. Due to immense expectation on public services, our workload has increased a lot and the pressure has gone up, from back office to frontline. I’ve also had to look at numbers carefully and use them to paint a picture of the latest situation facing companies, households and the whole economy.

How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?

The QP is a cornerstone of my career. From a knowledge-seeking perspective, the programme blends the theories and applications of accounting, economics and finance well, and the courses I attended were taught by open-minded and pioneering practitioners. The Institute allows students to have access to great learning and career resources, which are instrumental to their professional development even after graduating from the QP. For example, I’ve found the online resources on accounting standards very helpful.

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