Emily Ma, the Vice President of Accounting at an asset management company, shares with A Plus why working in the fund industry is tough yet rewarding, and how some of the defining lessons she’s learned only arose from unexpected challenges
What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
My company provides investors with asset management services such as investments in private equity funds and real estate funds. I’m in charge of supervising and reviewing the financial statements related to the activities of funds. I would say it’s been going very well so far. Though challenging, I enjoy the experience very much and my co-workers have been very helpful and supportive.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
My previous role at PwC was more accounting based, so for me, the biggest challenge was adapting to the fund industry. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, as I haven’t worked in private equity before. I’ve now been in this role for slightly over a year and spent a lot of time at the beginning reading books and doing research online to gain understanding about the industry, various technical terms and fund operations. I still seek help from my colleagues from time to time whenever I’m not clear about something. Since I’m relatively new, I find it most rewarding when I can apply something I have learned as it gives me more confidence to handle day-to-day operations.
Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
I would like to stay in the fund industry. I gain new knowledge and experience every day and look forward to acquiring an even deeper knowledge in five to 10 years. I also expect to take on additional roles and responsibilities over time. This is also why I got into this industry in the first place.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far from work experience or managers?
How to cope with a lack of manpower. Whenever there is turnover in the team and the new teammate isn’t familiar with the department’s operations, you need to learn how to keep calm, assess the issues at hand, remind the team about their roles and responsibilities and assign new tasks where necessary. Though it might involve working harder and longer hours, dealing with this has made me a better leader. You need to have good time management skills, prioritize the most urgent tasks first and collaborate well from other teams and departments. Sometimes, you need to create a timeline to determine what needs to be done at any given point in time.
Which continuing professional development course was the most useful?
I attended seminars on technical and annual accounting updates, which involved experts providing updates on accounting standards and a Q&A session. This was extremely helpful for accounting professionals like myself as there are always updates to standards. Sometimes we get a bit confused when it comes to interpreting new standards and updates, so these seminars have helped to clarify and explain them.
How do you think the Qualification Programme has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?
It is a very comprehensive training programme. It definitely helped me in my first job as an auditor at PwC, as I was required to use various auditing approaches to analyse our clients’ financial statements and to provide reasonable assurance that they were in compliance with the accounting standards. Module A – Financial Reporting and Module C – Business Assurance really helped in this area. As a CPA working in asset management, the knowledge I gained through the classes and workshops from Module B – Corporate Financing, taught me how to evaluate investment portfolios and perform cashflow analysis.