ACA, ACCA, CPA, CIMA, HKICPA: which accounting qualification will get you a job in Hong Kong finance?

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ACA, ACCA, CPA, CIMA, HKICPA: which accounting qualification will get you a job in Hong Kong finance?

You’re looking to start an accounting qualification that will get you a job or advance your career in the Hong Kong financial services sector. Which one should you choose?

We searched through our CV database to find Hong Kong-based professionals who work in accounting jobs and who have a mainstream accounting designation (ACA, ACCA, CPA, CIMA, HKICPA) – and we calculated the proportion of people holding each qualification.

The chart below shows which qualifications are most popular in Hong Kong among people in the financial services industry.

At 40%, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) is the most common designation, according to our database. Hong Kong accountants show a greater preference for their local qualification than their counterparts in Singapore do (the CA Singapore registered 27% in our equivalent survey there).

“Most local candidates go for the HKICPA, and the Big Four encourage employees to pursue it by sponsoring study leave because the HKICPA is required for auditors to sign off on clients’ audit reports,” says Christopher Aukland, Hong Kong managing director at recruiters Ambition. The HKICPA remains “difficult to obtain”, so banking and finance employers often look favourably on candidates who have it on their resumes, adds Nick Lambe, group managing director at recruiters Links International in Hong Kong.

An international CPA is also a good route into an accounting job in Hong Kong. The CPA Australia alone is held by 11% of accountants on our database, while a further 26% have CPAs from other overseas markets.

“A large number of accountants here were educated abroad and many have brought qualifications from their respective foreign professional bodies,” says Keith Wong, associate director of accounting and finance at recruiters Randstad in Hong Kong.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification is held by 14% of accountants in Hong Kong – a far lower proportion than the 39% who have it to their name in Singapore. “Five or six years ago, more accounting job seekers in Hong Kong were pursuing ACCA as non-degree holders are allowed to enter the exams,” says Aukland from Ambition. “But these days more and more candidates are degree holders and the HKICPA designation is a more straight-forward option for them. At banks, both an undergraduate degree and an accounting designation are now essential for any accounting positions.”

Only 3% of accounting CVs on our database in Hong Kong have the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification, reflecting the more specialised nature of management accounting. And 2% have the ACA, awarded by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Image credit: Wittayayut, Getty

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