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Accounting for taste

13 January 2022

The world of luxury fashion provides finance manager Vincent Leung with opportunities for hands-on involvements.

 

Diverse experience

 

The vibrant luxury apparel and retail industry provides plentiful chances for accountants to make important contributions, according to Vincent Leung, Senior Accounting Manager, Finance – APAC for US upscale leisurewear company Under Armour. Vincent was previously employed as a finance manager by Italian luxury giant Versace, and before that worked for a number of luxury industry clients for a lengthy spell as an auditor for EY.

 

Vincent decided to choose accountancy as his career early, pursuing it as his major degree at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “I decided to major in accountancy when I was in high school,” he says. “I was always good at numbers, and I selected accountancy as my career because I wanted to be a professional.”

 

He undertook several internships as an auditor while he was at university, first in Mainland China at Shanghai Donghua Accounting Firm, through a programme arranged by his university, followed by two in Hong Kong at KPMG and RSM Nelson Wheeler.

 

“Those experiences were really exciting,” he comments. “When I picked accountancy to be my profession, I was aware that I would need to invest a lot of hours in my career. That’s why I decided to expose myself to those internships.”

 

In particular, he adds, working at a local firm in Shanghai and living in the country for several months gave him an invaluable grounding of the culture and working practices of China’s commercial capital, which has stood him in good stead during his subsequent working life.

 

“During the three internships, I gained a lot of practical experience and I understood how I should develop my career in accountancy. It was why I decided to join the Big Four.”

 

After graduation, he joined EY, one of the Big Four firms, He worked there for six and a half years, during which he rose to the position of assurance manager. His audit clients included a range of companies in the property development, aviation and hotel sectors in Hong Kong and Mainland China, as well as a number of multinational luxury companies. Many of them are under the umbrella of French holding company LVMH, including Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Moët Hennessy Diageo.

 

“It was rewarding for me,” he says. “As a fresh graduate, joining a Big Four firm gives you a lot of valuable exposure; I acquired both technical skills and soft skills. I needed to keep interacting with in-house accountants in the commercial field, and make sure I was asking them the right questions in the right ways. It was really challenging but rewarding; you can develop your interpersonal skills very quickly.”

 

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Mr. Vincent Leung
Senior Accounting Manager, Finance – APAC
Under Armour

Fashion forward

 

Vincent studied for the QP while working at EY, and says the programme’s emphasis on practical skills and innovative methods of training appealed to him.

 

“QP does not only comprise of exams, but also workshops, which I enjoyed very much; I could study with my classmates and my colleagues at EY,” he says. “Unlike some other accounting exams, the exams of the QP involve practical case studies similar to those we would really encounter in the business world.”

 

His lengthy spell at EY ended with a move into the commercial sector, and a change of role to financial reporting and analysis. Having worked extensively for clients in the luxury industry during his time at EY, he joined Versace as a Finance Manager, later becoming the Regional Finance Manager and finally the Senior Manager, Finance – Asia Pacific, leading a team of 10 people in Hong Kong and 15 around the region, covering nine subsidiaries with about 100 stores in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia, and a combined annual turnover of more than HK$2 billion.

 

“I think being an in-house accountant in the retail industry is very challenging and rewarding,” he says. “I like the hands-on involvement. You have very frequent discussions with the front-line people. We, as in-house accountants, need to provide end-to-end solutions to solve the problems they encounter. You need to have very close relationships with the sales teams and even individual salespeople, working together to grow the business, and I love this a lot.”

  

He worked for the company for five years and moved to Under Armour in 2021, as its Senior Accounting Manager, Finance – APAC.

 

“After five years at Versace, I wanted something different. Both Versace and Under Armour are young companies, but Under Armour is even younger and it’s growing even faster than I expected within Asia-Pacific. I could apply the lessons I learned at Versace to Under Armour, but of course I could also learn something new. The company is more focused on volume than Versace, and more exposed to different sales channels, especially e-commerce,” he says.

 

Vincent has also been a HKICPA authorized supervisor and mentor, first taking on the roles when he was at Versace.

 

“I was the authorized supervisor of my subordinates who were studying for the QP,” he explains. “Some of them did not have an audit background, and the companies do not just focus on accountancy, resources cannot be provided as if an audit firm does for in-house accountants to advance themselves. Being their authorized supervisor, I was able to help them grow their accounting knowledge.”

 

Interview and reporting by Richard Lord

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