Taking Accounting into Account
Accounting makes one think immediately of numbers, lots of numbers. But that is not how Harry Cheng views his major at CUHK. He said, “Accounting is the third common language in the world, the ‘business language’ —just behind English and Chinese. Whether you are an accountant, a banker, an entrepreneur or even a restaurant owner, you need to deal with financial statements and numbers. This is why Accounting counts as the third lingua franca.”
Prof. Gu Zhaoyang , Director of the School of Accountancy at CUHK, couldn’t agree more: ‘Accounting is the backbone of business around the world, with management information and financial reports being critical to decision-making of all kinds. The Professional Accountancy (PACC) programme aims to nurture future leaders in accountancy and business. Through giving students a solid understanding of accounting and related business fields that will be valuable and practical throughout their careers, we develop future leaders to evaluate and tackle relevant issues in accounting and business in organizations and the society at large.’
Harry chose the PACC programme over similar programmes at other universities because he saw what PACC students and alumni had done. ‘As a time-honoured programme, the value of its seniors and alumni who are professionals in various fields can never be overstated, not to mention the performance of PACC students in case competitions, internships and professional exams. PACC is definitely the best accounting programme in Hong Kong.’
PACC admits about 130 students each year. Contrary to common belief, Economics or BAFS are not necessarily part of the admission criteria. Professor Gu said, ‘Regardless of the subjects you take at public examinations, you would stand an equal chance of being admitted to the programme.’ Harry also said, ‘Studying accounting in secondary school is not a must. I am a real example. I didn’t study accounting in high school but still managed to study PACC at CUHK.’
Harry went on saying, ‘Teamwork and interactions are two highlights of PACC courses. We need to take part in class projects, group discussions and case competitions. Close interactions with classmates enable me to gain deeper insights into diverse cultural perspectives and build stronger friendships. I am sure that those friendships I have built will be long lasting and we may be future colleagues or even business partners in future. You can never tell.
‘PACC does not, however, promise a ticket to any career path, but the School of Accountancy makes the path accessible and does its best to guide you through. The School provides abundant support to students, for instance, coaching them for case competitions and recommending them to well-known international firms. It also encourages our participation in the Executive Master of Professional Accountancy Programme events and the MBA Research Team. These experiences equip us with international business perspectives and also build for us wider social networks.’
Professor Gu further elaborated on the many opportunities offered by the School of Accountancy: ‘Apart from offering the first accounting degree programme in Hong Kong, our School is known for pioneering new approaches to the study of accounting in an ever-changing business landscape. We offer the Global Accounting Stream and the Global Tax and Governance Stream that are unique to our School and not found in other universities’ accounting programmes.’
Harry had taken part in the Global Accounting Stream, and much relished the experience: ‘Every year there are 13 students admitted to the stream. We got many opportunities to explore the globe. For instance, we went on overseas study trips to the UK and the Netherlands or took up non-local internships at professional firms. We learned together, worked together and grew together, just like siblings. We were all rewarded with precious international business perspectives and, having left footmarks across continents, are all confident that we will eventually become leaders in whatever industries and wherever in the world we find ourselves.’
Professor Gu added, ‘The Global Accounting Stream students have internship opportunities provided by the Big-4 CPA firms and gain international exposure through non-local training experience, with scholarships provided. Besides, there are career talks, workshops, seminars and firm visits throughout the year to help all the students explore career options and hone the soft skills required for their careers. PACC students have ample opportunities to join internship programmes offered by the Big-4 CPA firms, other financial institutions and companies. The Treasury, Hospital Authority and the Inland Revenue Department are also providers of internship programmes arranged through our School.’
PACC graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of careers, including professional accountancy, investment banking, management consultancy, financial management, the Government and the academia.
As if to remove the last doubt that may be harboured by the prospective PACC students, Harry said it again, ‘Accounting is not bookkeeping. The accounting skillset provides ways to analyze the financial situation of companies in depth, which is necessary and fundamental to the business world. Many high-level business analyses require accounting knowledge which cannot be done by computers. Therefore, professional accountants will never be replaced by accounting softwares or robots. So just feel relieved and apply for PACC! See you in CUHK!’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018