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HKICPA survey: Accounting opens doors to rewarding and varied career paths for young professionals

09 July 2018
(HONG KONG, 9 July 2018) A Career Survey conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants has found that the demand for accounting professionals remained high in Hong Kong, with accounting firms big and small, as well as corporates expressing difficulties in attracting and retaining talents.

The survey found that the accounting profession is very mobile and dynamic, with respondents moving between CPA firms, from firms to the corporate environment, or changing fields. In the year prior to the survey, 25% of member respondents who are CPAs and 35% of student respondents on the Institute's Qualification Programme ("QP") to become a CPA have changed jobs. Of these, 65% of members and 76% of students received a pay rise. Also, close to 30% of respondents (both members and students) have changed fields, and of them, one-third have changed from traditional to non- traditional accounting functions including advisory, consulting, legal, investment and finance, IT, or learning and development.

"The accounting profession opens doors to rewarding and varied career paths for the young professionals," said Mr. Jonathan Ng, Executive Director, Qualification and Education, HKICPA.

"In this new era of Accounting Plus, the accounting profession has developed to be something much more than traditional accounting and auditing. CPAs today combine their accounting knowledge with higher-order analysis skills and technical abilities to improve professional offering and add value to businesses. Many practising CPAs are doing data analytics, business restructuring, merger and acquisition, fintech and cloud computing, whereas those in corporations are playing key business roles in a wide variety of industries and sectors," Mr. Ng said.

Rewarding Career

Accounting continues to be one of the highest-paying professions in Hong Kong. While the surveyed CPAs are younger than the overall HKICPA membership, and therefore less senior, the membership survey reported average annual remuneration of HK$817,000. The studentship survey also revealed that remuneration grows quickly after joining the profession, with average annual remuneration reaching HK$283,000 by the third year as CPA QP students.

Importantly, 65% of member respondents who are newly QP qualified agreed that QP training was adequate to meet their job requirements; and 79% of student respondents agreed that QP was useful for their career development.

The improving economy and tightening labour market have apparently led to above-inflation pay rises and higher levels of bonuses that respondents have reported. Improving economic sentiment has seen the percentage of membership reporting pay rises increased from 84% to 87% year-on-year, while the percentage of member respondents receiving a bonus has increased from 79% to 80%.

Substantial differences are seen between the structure of pay in practice, where accountants deal with a variety of clients across industry sectors, and in the corporate sector where accountants work directly for a company. In practice, respondents reported high pay rises, with 50% of members receiving a pay rise of 5% or more, and 12% of members reporting a wage raise of 15% or more. In the corporate sector, however, pay rises were lower but bonuses were higher, with 59% of member respondents receiving more than one month's bonus, and 21% getting 2 to 4 months.

Surveyed students enjoy a rewarding career, in which 28% of student respondents in public practice received a pay rise of 20% or more, with 44% of student respondents from public practice received an additional pay increment of 10% or more, on top of the regular pay rise after the completion of QP.

Positive Job Market

On the outlook of employment market for professional accountants, 41% of member respondents feel positive while another 40% are neutral; and 46% of student respondents are positive while another 34% are neutral.

Respondents tend to be active job seekers. In the 12 months prior to the survey, 25% of members and 35% of student respondents have changed employment. Also, 40% of members and 55% of student respondents have planned to change job over the next year.

This caused hiring challenges for employers, with 83% member respondents at senior and middle-management from Big Four reportedly encountering difficulties in recruiting staff, and 96% found it challenging to retain staff; the figures for non-profit organizations are lowest among different sectors but they still stood at 71% and 77% respectively.

"The demand for CPAs is likely to continue to be strong, as more business activities demand the services that CPAs offer. For instance, the changes of listing rules allowing companies with weighted voting rights structures, and biotech companies at pre-profit/ pre-revenue stages, plus the interest in the deep capital markets of Hong Kong by companies seeking a secondary listing, are likely drivers of IPOs and demand for CPA services like advisory, audit and financial analysis," said Mr. Ng.

The Career Survey was comprised of a membership survey conducted from November to December 2017 with 3,310 respondents, and a studentship survey conducted from December 2017 to January 2018 with 3,887 respondents.


香港會計師公會調查:會計專業回報佳 助年青專才開拓多元事業


是次調查顯示會計專業人才流動性高,而且充滿動態。在進行調查前的一年,曾轉職的受訪者部分轉到其他會計師事務所、有的由事務所轉往商界企業,又或到新領域發展。期內,25%的回覆會計師會員曾轉職,正修讀公會專業資格課程(QP)成為會計師的回覆學生則有 35%,當中 65%的會員及 76%的學生曾獲加薪。近 30%的回覆者(會員及學生)曾轉到新領域發展,當中三分之一由傳統的會計工作,轉至非傳統會計職能,包括顧問、諮詢、法律、投資及財務、資訊科技或培訓與發展。


伍先生說:「在『Accounting Plus』的世代,會計專業的發展已超逾傳統會計與核數工作。今天的會計師運用會計知識,結合高層次分析技巧及專業技能,將會計服務提昇到不同領域,為業務增值。不少執業會計師從事數據分析、業務重組、合併及收購、金融科技以及雲端運算等工作,而商界企業的會計師亦在各行各業擔任重要職位。」


會計工作仍是香港薪酬最高的專業之一。會員調查回覆者的年齡較公會整體會員年輕、年資較淺,他們的平均年薪為 817,000 港元。學生調查結果顯示加入會計行業後的薪酬增長迅速,受訪學生在修讀 QP 第三年時的平均年薪達 283,000 港元。

剛修畢 QP 的回覆會員中 65%認為 QP 的培訓完備,符合他們的工作所需;而 79%回覆學生認同 QP 有助他們的事業發展。

由於經濟好轉、勞工市場緊張,回覆者的薪金加幅高於通脹,花紅增幅亦有上升。去年84%的回覆會員獲加薪,受惠於經濟景氣向好,今年的比例增至 87%,而獲發花紅的回覆會員由去年的 79%增至 80%。

對比於事務所為不同行業客戶服務的會計師,與受聘於企業的商界會計師,兩者的薪酬架構差別甚大。在事務所工作的回覆會員加薪幅度良好,50%獲 5%或以上加幅,12%獲加薪 15%或以上。商界會計師回覆會員的薪金增幅相對低,但花紅則較優厚,59%獲發多於一個月薪金的花紅,21%更獲兩至四個月的花紅。
受訪學生的事業發展回報佳,在執業會計師事務所工作的回覆學生中, 28%薪金增加20%或以上,而 44%於完成 QP 後,在一般加薪外獲額外增薪的幅度達 10%或以上。


對於專業會計師的就業前景,回覆會員中 41%認為樂觀,40%表示中立;回覆學生中46%感到樂觀,34%表示中立。

回覆者中不少有轉換工作的計劃。在調查前 12 個月內,有 25%回覆會員曾轉職,回覆學生則有 35%。此外,打算在未來一年轉工的回覆會員有 40%,回覆學生則有 55%。

以上情況為僱主帶來招聘困難,在接受調查的四大會計師事務所的中、高層管理會員,83%表示招聘方面遇到挑戰,96%認為保留人才困難;非牟利機構在受訪機構中情況最好,但仍有 71%及 77%回覆者分別面對招聘人才及留住員工的困難。


是次就業調查分為兩部份,會員調查於二零一七年十一月至十二月期間進行,回覆者共3,310 人;QP 學生調查則於二零一七年十二月至二零一八年一月期間進行,回覆者共3,887 人。