According to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), 36% of member respondents are undertaking roles in non-traditional accounting functions and employers are experiencing difficulties in retaining and recruiting such talents.

Non-traditional accounting roles in public practice includes consulting, forensic accounting and insolvency. In the non-practicing sector, these functions include corporate finance, investment and financial management, internal control and risk management, and compliance.

Responders at management levels reported difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. Practising firms, particularly larger organisations, reported significant difficulty in retaining staff as it is a common career move for junior members to transfer from the practicing to non-practising sector after obtaining their qualification and practical experience.

HKICPA president Patrick Law said: “CPAs are moving into a wider range of businesses beyond the traditional accounting and auditing sectors. Despite the economic uncertainty, accounting professionals remain in high-demand across Hong Kong for the diverse services they offer. This demonstrates the importance employers and clients place on the skills of accountants – even in challenging times.

“The role of accountants is transforming with an ever-changing business world. A new mix of hard and soft skills such as business acumen, data analytics and leaderships are required to stay relevant and provide effective strategic advice. Members in leadership positions in the accounting profession do more than crunch numbers and require job skills in leadership and decision making.”

HKICPA is aiming to support its members in equipping them with the necessary skills needed in a changing business environment and has provided a range of tech-related CPD programmes. Most recently it launched a seminar series on 30 October called ‘Challenges and Advancement of Treasury Management’ which looks into omnichannel collection and the application of blockchain.