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Entrepreneurial Accounting

19 April 2022

Harry Ho of AOGB spent years looking for a start-up idea, before realizing that he already had one.

 

Big Four focus

 

Many accountants enter the field because it’s a profession with good career prospects – an excellent option if you want to minimize risk. Harry Ho took the opposite view, training to become an accountant and working as an auditor and advisor for nearly a decade as a springboard into the high stakes world of entrepreneurialism.

 

“I’ve had the ambition of becoming an entrepreneur since I was young,” he says. “When I was studying in high school, I found out that accountants have the chance to encounter entrepreneurs in various industries, and that would be an effective platform to learn about a wide range of business models and to find business ideas.”

 

With that in mind, he decided to study professional accountancy at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do when he graduated.

 

“My plans were much simpler than most students,” he says. “When I was in university, I only had one mind and that is to apply for a position at the Big Four. I applied and got offers from all four of them.”

 

He decided to join Deloitte, after undertaking an internship at the firm when he was a student. He ended up working for three years in its assurance department, focusing on clients in real estate industry.

 

He then moved to PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked for six years, mostly as a senior manager in the assurance department, leading different teams and specializing in clients in the financial services industry. For his final year, he was transferred to the firm’s Shenzhen office, with a remit to establish and build an advisory team in the asset management industry, focusing particularly on compliance. He made the move, he says, because he was becoming increasingly interested in FinTech, “and to explore the FinTech industry, the best place is Shenzhen”. While working there, he was also involved in the IPO of a FinTech company.

 

To work as a CPA, he decided to study for the QP. “I knew I wanted to obtain practical experience in Hong Kong, so the QP was a must,” he says. He even won the HKICPA scholarship in 2010, which is awarded to students who performed particularly well in their tertiary education. In fact, he is now a facilitator for the programme’s workshops, which he says are constantly improving. “Nowadays the focus is more on soft skills and equipping accountants with the skillsets they need in the real world. More critical and independent thinking elements have been introduced.”

 

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Mr. Harry Ho
An entrepreneur, An angel investor,
Managing Director,
AOGB Professional Services Group

Going it alone

 

After nearly a decade with the security of working in two of the Big Four firms, he made the decision to step out, launching the CPA firm AOGB, which stands for Advisors of Global Businesses. The firm focuses on medium to large business clients.

 

“I had always thought about having my own business but I didn’t have the right idea for it,” he says. “One day a friend asked me if I could help him with some professional services. I realized that what I was doing could be turned into a business, so why not start a business doing something I’m familiar with?”

 

His work of auditing different financial clients had also equipped him with a deep knowledge of the industry, and he decided to get involved in it for himself. The result is his other company, asset management business Rein Alliance, which he formed with his old school friends who had worked as traders in investment banks.

 

As if all that weren’t enough, he’s also the adjunct CFO of two corporations, both originally AOGB clients, one in the printing industry and the other in the beauty industry, crossing over from accounting to helping to make operational decisions. “This is the beauty of accountancy – it’s a common language. Once you’re familiar with the business model of a company, you can easily tap into a company as its CFO,” he says.

 

His interest in FinTech has also grown into a role as an angel investor and a board member of Cvsaya.id, an Indonesian online job hunting platform. His relationship with the company came about when he was in the early stages of building AOGB and attending a lot of events, where he met its founder. The original idea was for him to find an investor for the company; so impressed with it that he ended up investing himself. So in addition to fulfilling his dream of becoming an entrepreneur, he now also uses his skills to foster entrepreneurship for others.

 

Interview and reporting by Richard Lord

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