Although many industries are badly hit by one of the most serious health crises in the history, the performance of the accountancy sector is relatively steady. This professional sector continues to grow and evolve sturdily. The global accounting services market is expected to grow from US$544.06 billion in 2020 to US$573.29 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4%. The market is expected to reach US$735.94 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 6%.
Because of China-US tension, more US-listed Mainland enterprises are expected to gravitate to secondary listings in Hong Kong in the future. For those enterprises which have already listed in the US, a secondary listing in Hong Kong is able to provide them with an option in the event that they are delisted in the US. This is beneficial to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and local accounting sector as these enterprises will require relevant audit services, corporate finance services, etc.
Accounting practitioners nowadays have to be tech-savvy and comfortable using different platforms to interact with clients. Emerging technologies, including cloud computing, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc., support the transitional role of accounting personnel into a more analytical role. This has also opened up a new way for practitioners to work with their clients, especially in the midst of the pandemic. In fact, the feasibility to work from virtually anywhere has given small firms and businesses access to worldwide clients and talent pools that previously were mainly available to large corporations.
Technology helps speed up the tasks of accounting practitioners but it will also change the focus of their job. Accounting practitioners need to reskill and upskill themselves to evolve with the changing environment. Clients are expecting accounting and tax professionals to serve as holistic advisers rather than just being transactional accountants. Practitioners are required to be skilled at analysing big data to identify trends and patterns. Soft skills, including problem-solving skill and communication skill, are critical in addition to technological competencies.
The advancement in technology facilitates the emergence of new business models which in turn has an impact on the provision of professional services like accountancy. One of the emerging business models is marketplace platforms which provide online matching services connecting accounting practitioners and businesses. Another emerging business model is micro service offerings which try to pull it apart to create more focused and higher-quality services.
Hong Kong is renowned for having some of the longest working hours worldwide. There is a gradual shift in employee preferences that many practitioners are focusing on non-financial incentives. This somewhat reflects the fact that employees, particularly those who are millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) and Generation Z (born between 1996 and the early-mid 2000s), tend to value work-life balance and career progression higher than simply financial rewards.