Communication and Engagement
IBM is a venerable brand, in operation for more than 100 years. Institute member Bonnie Chan, Chief Operating Officer at IBM China and Hong Kong, is pictured here with IBM Watson. This computer system has been marketed as IBM’s suite of AI services, applications and tooling, “a pioneering collection of ‘cognitive’ computing capabilities that can understand, reason, learn and interact.”
Effective communications with members and stakeholders and a strong brand help promote engagement with the Institute and its activities and attract new entrants to the profession. Over the year the Institute undertook a number of initiatives to engage with members, stakeholders and the public, and support the profession.
From the start of 2018, Council began publishing abridged minutes of Council meetings for members. Through releasing these minutes, Council hopes to increase the transparency of Council and Institute activities and discussions to give members a greater understanding of the work of the Institute.
The Institute held an extraordinary general meeting in March to consider three resolutions raised by members (see Constitution, governance and finance). After the resolutions were passed, Council provided regular updates on the progress through the abridged Council minutes as well as emails sent to members from the President.
The Institute has embarked on a change journey as a result of the Digital Strategic Plan (DSP) approved by Council in February 2018. A digital team has been formed to spearhead the DSP implementation with the objectives of enhancing the member and student experience while interacting with the Institute, facilitating timely communications and improving relevance of communication to the right target audience groups. The website revamp and new Qualification Programme (QP) system implementation are well underway and the team will continue to collect feedback and improve along the way. The goal is to make information, resources and services significantly more accessible to members and QP students, so that the Institute could more efficiently fulfill its purpose of regulating the profession, educating the practitioners, and serving members.
The DSP has a three-year road map, with changes rolled out in phases, so that members would taste early benefits from the project, while enhancements and deeper overhauls are being made in subsequent phases.
In support of the upcoming DSP initiatives, the Institute has also carried out continuous improvements to the Member Activities System and IT infrastructure environment including: upgrading the storage area network, other network enhancements, and strengthening the security framework on our core systems and applications.
President meets the press
The Institute has built a strong public profile and thought leadership position through extensive media exposure. Over the year we hosted a number of key media events and briefings, to highlight the views and position of the Institute on important topics including the Financial Reporting Council (Amendment) Bill, corporate governance, and the Hong Kong Budget.
Through various media interviews, the President portrayed the rich and rewarding careers accorded by the accounting profession, and the emergence of “Accounting Plus” that epitomizes the evolvement of the profession and would gear up CPAs to stay at the forefront of a fast-developing business world in the face of technological and economic developments.
FRC (Amendment) Bill
During the year, the Institute engaged actively in making a strong representation of its position on the Financial Reporting Council (Amendment) Bill, including appearance at and written submissions to the Legislative Council Bills Committee meetings, and media interviews and opinion articles.
Soon after the gazettal of the Bill in January 2018, we published a press release raising major concerns including the funding of Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the so-called EU equivalence of the composition of the FRC, and the financial burden of maximum penalty on small- and medium-sized practitioners.
The Chief Executive and Registrar, through media interviews and strategically placed opinion pieces in the Hong Kong Economic Journal and Oriental Daily News, set out the Institute’s views in determined and effective manners, ensuring the profession’s voice was heeded by the government and the Legislative Councillors.
As well, the Institute stepped up its updates to keep members abreast of the Bill’s legislative progress. A dedicated webpage was given prominent link on the homepage and updated regularly to include all of the Institute’s submissions and media articles.
Corporate governance thought leadership
In May 2018, the Institute released the Report on Improving Corporate Governance in Hong Kong, conducted independently by The University of Hong Kong’s Asian Institute of International Financial Law. Riding on the report findings, the Institute advocated for measures that would strengthen Hong Kong’s competitiveness as an international capital market. The report and the Institute’s recommendations gained widespread media coverage, and the Institute also placed a series of positional articles in the business section of Oriental Daily News, resulting in a high level of awareness of the Institute’s thought leadership on the subject. The report became a benchmark study in Hong Kong and was repeatedly referenced in subsequent media reports featuring corporate governance.
Earlier in November 2017, the Institute presented the 18th Best Corporate Governance Awards, where a total of 20 Awards were given out – three more than the preceding year. The awards presentation received extensive media coverage in all of the major business media in Hong Kong, further underpinning the Institute’s leadership position in corporate governance.
In June 2018, the promotion campaign calling for entries to the 19th Best Corporate Governance Awards also received very strong media coverage, including business media outside Hong Kong, as the long-running Awards became one of the most coveted recognitions. This year, a comprehensive communications plan is led by partnership with tier one media, including South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Economic Times and Hong Kong Economic Journal.
The Institute conducted its annual membership survey and, for the first time, a studentship survey between November 2017 and January 2018. The surveys were combined together and released as the Career Survey Report, presenting the overall views of the entire profession on three topics, employment prospects, earning power, and CPA qualification and development. A total of 3,310 members responded to the membership survey (8% of total membership), and the studentship survey saw 3,887 responses (23% of the total). Besides the report, infographics were created and shared on social media, and the report was covered extensively by the media.
A Plus cover features
In 2018 the Institute’s members publication ran a series of articles, accompanied by a series of video interviews, titled “Accounting Plus: A Conversation with CPAs under 35” with the purpose to engage the increasingly young membership. The first series focused on four CFOs under 35, who shared about their views on the profession, their roles, and what being an accountant would mean in the future.
A new mobile version of A Plus was launched in September 2017 to provide an easier to use online version to engage readers. The new version is web-based, requiring no separate app download and is fully responsive to the screen size of the device used.
To further reach out to the wider local business community, Chinese articles – translated from the A Plus success ingredient articles – were published in Master Insight, a Hong Kong media portal providing insights on business, culture and technology issues with around 20,000 daily hits and targeting well-educated professionals.
Supporting professional bodies
The Institute supported events organized by the Hong Kong Coalition of Professional Services throughout the year. Council members and Institute representatives attended a luncheon talk on the Policy Address by the Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung, and a luncheon talk on the 2018/19 Budget by Financial Secretary Paul Chan.