What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
An Assistant Finance Manager at A.S. Watson Group, I’m responsible for managing the full profit and loss (P&L) statement, as well as providing action plans to both qualitative and quantitative observations for one of our business units, PARKnSHOP. There are many business units under A.S. Watson Group such as PARKnSHOP, Watsons and Fortress. Since financial report analyses require a certain expertise, I am the communication channel between our finance team and different departments, and provide relevant insights to different parties. I was promoted in September 2019 and I’d say that the role is going well – I’m still pushed to perform my best on a daily basis. I have also been responsible for the audit function of the business unit since the day I joined, which allows me to work with different members of senior management to understand the unique difficulties each function is facing. I am required to provide tailor-made recommendations to manage risks, and that gives me a good opportunity to build my network and understand the business unit from top to bottom. On top of that, I also need to perform various ad-hoc analysis to do with promotion effectiveness, stock management and cost-saving plans.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
I would say the most challenging aspect is managing my time. On top of my daily tasks, I receive a lot of phone calls and emails every day. It is about determining which issues could be solved with an email, which tasks need to be delegated to my team and which tasks require meeting with management. Luckily, I have a trustworthy and fun team, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. I spend half my day at work, so I appreciate the connections and bonds I have with my colleagues. It can be hard to have friends in a company, but I do believe that in addition to helping you progress in your career and life, colleagues can be friends too. I’ve met a lot of people in this company who have been very supportive, especially when I’ve had to deal with a lot of pressure.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
I liked maths a lot when I was a primary school student and remember always being praised for my high test scores through secondary school, so that motivated me to study accounting in university. I decided to begin my career at Deloitte while studying accounting at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University after hearing about the exposure I could get from working at an audit firm. It was tough working there – there’s a steep learning curve – but the experience is rewarding. Not only did I learn a lot about different industries through interviews with various audit teams, but I also improved my communication and time management skills.
Which of the continuing professional development (CPD) courses did you find most helpful in your day-to-day work or in getting you to the next stage of your career?
The Institute’s CPD courses concerning International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 16 Leases have really helped me with the technical aspects of my job. PARKnSHOP manages a large number of stores in Hong Kong, and the revised IFRS 16 impacts the assets and liabilities of each one. I gained a better understanding of the standard through the CPD course, and that has helped me to forecast how the standard will affect P&L statements.
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 basic requirement for all CPAs, and I believe the programme has greatly helped with my critical thinking. For example, the knowledge I gained from Module C business assurance taught me how to carefully look at businesses and their processes as an internal auditor. This helped me to ask the best questions when interviewing management and also knowing what documents to look for in an audit. Also, Module A financial reporting also greatly helped me grasp P&L statements and accounting policies. Overall, I feel the knowledge I gained from the QP has given me the confidence to communicate with the finance team.