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The Difference Between Accounting Designations in Hong Kong

Thinking about becoming an accountant? Need to hire an accountant for your business? In both cases, it’s important to understand that accountants can have a range of professional qualifications. Here’s a look at the most popular credentials.

Accounting Credentials in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the most popular accounting designations are as follows:

  • HKICPA – Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • ACCA – the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Additionally, some people practice as international Certified Public Accountants, and if you hire someone with international credentials, you should make sure they understand Hong Kong’s accounting rules. If you have international credentials, contact the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Professional Accountants to learn how to upgrade to the HKICPA and make yourself more marketable to prospective employers.

Hong Kong’s Most Popular Accounting Credential

Roughly one-third of the accounting professionals in Hong Kong are certified through the HKICPA, making this the most common qualification in the region. To earn the HKICPA, you need to earn an accounting degree and complete the qualification programme. The programme covers real-life scenarios accountants face and includes hands-on training with an experienced Certified Pro.

When you hire someone with this designation, you get a well-trained professional who knows Hong Kong’s accounting rules inside and out. Additionally, HKICPAs are the only accountants who can sign off on audit reports required with business tax returns

No Degree? No Problem

In 1950, the ACCA became the first international accounting body with a presence in Hong Kong. For people thinking about entering the field, the ACCA designation is attractive because it doesn’t require a degree. To put it simply, as long as you can pass the test, you can start practicing. That said, if you’re thinking about becoming an accountant, be aware that the popularity of this designation has been waning in recent years, particularly as banks have been requiring all accounting candidates to have a degree. To side step that issue, you may want to get a degree first.

Although popularity is waning, roughly 10% of Hong Kong accountants still have this designation, and if you want an experienced bookkeeper with accounting credentials, you may want to consider hiring an accountant with ACCA designation. In some cases, they charge less than other accountants because they haven’t had to spend as much time in school. Additionally, keep in mind that accountants with this credential can do bookkeeping, financial reports, and forecasting, but they can’t sign off on audit reports for tax returns.

Accountants With Management Training

The world’s largest group of management-level accountants, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants is an international body that has been around for about 100 years. If you’re hiring, CIMA professionals are ideal for leading companies and are perfect for filling the role of chief financial officer. Only 4% of accountants in Hong Kong have this designation. So, if you’re trying to land a competitive spot in finance management, you may want to pursue this elite option.

Depending on the initials behind their names, accountants can have a range of different skills. When deciding which designation to get, take into account your current education and your long term goals. Alternatively, if you’re hiring an accountant, think about these qualifications and make sure the person you hire can handle your needs. You should also look at QuickBooks ProAdvisors. There are over 100 advisors in Hong Kong, and these professionals can provide a range of services or help you get set up with cloud-based accounting software such as QuickBooks.

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