Derek Lo, Senior Consultant at Deloitte China, never imagined he would be an accountant. But since taking on his role, he has found it to be a challenge yet an opportunity to learn. He tells A Plus how he has grown with the firm, learned how to better manage his time, and why he eagerly looks forward to helping clients navigate the increasingly complex world of tax
What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
I’m a Senior Consultant in the International Merger and Acquisition Tax Services group of Deloitte China. Our group advises international companies, private equity firms and investment banks on international tax planning, restructuring and cross-border transactions. In particular, I assist our clients by helping them to perform tax due diligence on companies they are looking to acquire, tax structuring and tax regulatory consolidation with respect to their operations. I also perform tax analyses and prepare reports to assist my partners and managers to deliver work for our clients. My colleagues are very friendly, experienced and willing to share their knowledge with me.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
The timeline of some of our projects can be very short. I need to fully understand the background of each case I’m handling, perform in-depth analyses on potential tax implications, and present those findings in an accessible manner. Tax issues often involve technical terms and not all clients understand them, so another challenge is presenting our thoughts clearly to help them understand any tax issues. For example, our team recently helped a client to lodge an “offshore claim” of their income in a tax filing. Hong Kong adopts a territorial source principle of taxation, so if a person is carrying out a business in Hong Kong, it is subject to Hong Kong profits tax if the profits are derived from a business in Hong Kong. My job requires me to understand how each client earns revenue, clarify whether their income derived is from an offshore source and then prove it to the Inland Revenue Department. Therefore, I also need a good level of knowledge of the Hong Kong tax system. It can be difficult for overseas clients to understand since their jurisdictions adopt a different tax principle. Challenging as the role may be, seeing our clients satisfied with our work at the end of the day is the most rewarding and encouraging thing.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
It was through a mentor and an accounting course I took in university. Though I majored in Financial Services at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, I had to take a compulsory financial accounting course. I quickly learned how accounting plays a vital role in business and provides investors and management with crucial financial information used in making business decisions. My mentor worked in various companies as an accountant before he decided to teach in a university, so he would always share how his accounting skills and knowledge could benefit each company. I studied mostly science subjects back in secondary school, so accounting was completely new to me. Most of my coursemates had already a bit of accounting knowledge from secondary school, but I found it quite tough.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
It would be learning how to better manage my time. There are times when I need to complete a project in a very short amount of time as requested by the client, so my goal is to ensure every project is completed before the deadline and more importantly, that the client is satisfied. This means knowing when to delegate some duties to my colleagues and using to-do lists to keep track of daily duties. Right now, it’s a challenge working from home, but I still make sure that I closely communicate with my team in order to still promptly deliver work to our clients.
How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?
What I learned from Module D taxation helps me the most in my role. It taught me the basic knowledge and principles of Hong Kong’s tax system, and I still find myself applying what I learned from the QP in my day-to-day work. I didn’t major in accounting, so Module A financial reporting also provided me with a very strong foundation in that area. I work closely with auditors and knowing in accounting has helped me to cooperate with them in order to provide comments and suggestions on both the accounting and tax treatment of our clients’ transactions.