Demonstrating the attractiveness of our profession, and the dedication of the people in it, the Institute’s membership continues to grow. To maintain our status as one of Hong Kong’s preeminent professional bodies, the Qualification Programme (QP), is being improved upon. This new QP demonstrates our commitment to equipping aspiring accountants with the solid and relevant accounting knowledge and skills needed for a successful career in practice or business. As of 30 June 2019, membership stood at 44,269, up from 42,612 last year, including 5,756 fellow members. There were 4,938 practising members at that date, up from 4,769 last year. The number of member practices has also grown to 1,891 from 1,861 in 2018, including 608 corporate practices.
As of 30 June 2019, there were a total of 17,329 students at the Institute, including 706 students from a previous joint examination scheme. Of the QP students, 2,659 are from the Mainland, of which 582 are members of the Chinese Institute of CPAs and 2,077 Mainland degree holders. In terms of demographics, women account for 58 percent, or 10,006 of the overall studentship, and men account for 42 percent, 7,323. This year achieved a record number of QP module and final examination enrolments at over 27,000.
During the year, a total of 1,778 students graduated, with 772 students graduating in December 2018 and 1,006 in June 2019, bringing the cumulative number of graduates to 22,136, since the programme launched in 1999. The number of accredited programmes offered by local, Mainland and overseas tertiary institutions increased by one to 107, of which 40 are Mainland programmes.
MAINTAINING STANDARDS IN QUALIFICATION
To assist QP students in their preparations for the examinations, the Institute held a series of examination techniques seminars to help them improve their examination techniques and address common problems encountered during examination preparation.
As well as the examinations, the QP involves a practical experience component. As of 30 June 2019, 1,465 employers and 1,815 supervisors have registered as Authorized Employers (AEs) or Authorized Supervisors (ASs) with the Institute to train prospective CPAs.
To maintain the high quality of the AE and AS system, the Institute visits a number of AEs and ASs each year as part of the AE/AS Enhancement Programme to provide them direct support. This year, the Institute visited 42 AEs and ASs, taking the total to 401 since the launch of the programme in 2008.
PREPARING FOR 20 MORE YEARS OF SUCCESS
The upcoming changes to the QP will be the most thorough to the programme since i ts launch. The changes will enhance the qualifying process, and ensure the QP will remain the premier route to becoming a CPA into the future.
We are committed to helping our members thrive in the age of Accounting Plus, where the rapid evolution of the business environment is driven by technological advancement, the proliferation of innovative business models, and new and higher expectations on professional accountants. The changing environment has a significant impact on accountants, not just in the services they provide clients, but the role they play in society.
The Institute is implementing the new QP, to nurture future-ready accountants with the agility and capability to meet these developing market needs. Through the top-quality, comprehensive training offered by the QP, the students will acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and values to be professional accountants by completing workshop training, passing professional examinations and acquiring practical experience under an AE or AS. In the longer term, the new QP will help future CPAs to succeed not only in accounting but also enhance their employability and mobility more widely. They will be able to capture many opportunities around the region and across different industries, and thereby advance their career development as Accountants Plus.
The new QP consists of three progressive levels. The Associate level builds a solid foundation of technical accounting knowledge. The Professional level deepens the technical knowledge and teaches students to apply enabling competences in the workplace. Finally, the Capstone level integrates the knowledge, skills and experiences gained from the previous levels to solve complex business problems and offer holistic practical solutions.
The new QP will be rolled out stage-by-stage with the first examination session for the Associate modules, the Professional modules and the Capstone to be held in June 2020, December 2020 and June 2021 respectively. As we move towards the first examinations, changes began in September 2019, with the introduction of a new Student Information System for online registration and the publication of a new set of study packs for examination preparation.
To ensure a smooth transition to the new QP, the Institute completed review exercises of existing accredited programmes to ascertain their fulfilment of the accreditation requirements and to determine the module exemption under the new QP.
To prepare workshop facilitators for the new workshop format and delivery, the Institute has devised a comprehensive “Train-the-Trainers” programme which will be rolled out to more than 140 workshop facilitators.
In November 2018, the Institute issued a position paper outlining the changes to the practical experience framework with the objectives on enhancing the flexibility of the practical experience requirements, strengthening the quality assurance of the AE and AS system, and promoting communication through online system.
PROMOTING THE PROFESSION TO FUTURE ACCOUNTANTS PLUS
Attracting the best talent is vital for the long-term success of the profession. To assist with this goal the Institute has a number of promotional events and projects aimed at secondary school and university students.
For secondary school students, the Institute and the Hong Kong Association for Business Education Limited jointly organize the Business, Accounting and Financial Studies mock examination for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. The mock examination aims to help secondary students prepare for the examination, as well as develop their understanding and application of basic accounting and business knowledge, skills and values to meet different business needs. The mock examination for the 2018-2019 session was well received, with over 5,000 enrolments from 284 secondary schools in Hong Kong.
As one of the flagship events among the secondary schools, the HKICPA Accounting and Business Management Case Competition 2018-19 was successfully held with over 2,140 students from 111 schools joining in the competition. This annual event allows senior secondary school students to apply their textbook knowledge in the areas of accounting and business to the real world. It also enhances students’ enabling skills such as analytical thinking, time management, presentation skills, creativity and team building.
Promoting the accounting profession to university students is also important. With this aim, the President, Vice-Presidents and various Council and committee members regularly attend university student union accounting association inaugurations and other events to speak about the profession. At these events, they promote the QP and the opportunities available in the profession in the age of Accounting Plus. Over the year, representatives took part in more than 15 events.
The HKICPA Business Case Competition is an inter-tertiary event organized by the Institute and has been in running since 2003. In 2018, we combined the Hong Kong and Mainland competitions and renamed it from the “QP Business Case Analysis Competition,” with the objective of expanding the exposure for students across Greater China. The competition helps students to develop skills such as case analysis, problem solving, team building and presentation. Over 630 teams from Hong Kong and the Mainland participated in the competition in 2018, analysing the case of a chain of fitness centres.
The Institute organizes an annual career forum for university students. Last year’s theme was “The Critical Piece”, and the forum was held in October 2018 and attracted over 600 university students. Attendees experienced a new and interactive format of the event which featured focus groups on the concept of Accounting Plus, employer exhibitions, career-oriented workshops as well as a free luncheon with CPAs. Attendees were also able to get help with their CVs and meet with employers in order to kick-start their careers in the profession.
Hong Kong is not the only market where the Institute promotes the QP. Engaging with the Mainland market is vital for the long-term success of the profession. In the past year, the Mainland China team has promoted the QP at more than 15 universities accredited by the Institute and major accounting firms through over 70 QP promotion talks on-site across the Mainland. As a result, the number of Mainland-based QP students has been steadily increasing.
The Hong Kong Institute of Accredited Accounting Technicians (HKIAAT), a subsidiary of the Institute, has registered 7,625 students to its AAT examination since the implementation of its revised framework in 2009, which serves as a benchmark for testing students’ knowledge on accounting and understanding of professional ethics.
The HKIAAT has accredited 13 sub-degree accounting programmes. Accredited accounting technicians (AATs) have the option to either pursue a career as an accounting technician, or take the Professional Bridging Examination, which serves as an alternate route for those wishing to undertake the QP. Since the examination’s commencement more than 15 years ago, 1,367 AATs have become eligible for entry into the QP.
In recent years, the HKIAAT has confronted enormous challenges due to changes in the educational landscape and manpower needs in Hong Kong. To address this, examinations held by the HKIAAT will be restructured as the Associate level of the new QP. The HKIAAT ceased to hold the AAT examinations after 31 December 2018 and the last offering of Professional Bridging Examination will be held in December 2019.