Tim Wong CPA, Head of Treasury at West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), says the role of a corporate treasurer now goes well beyond the scope of managing cash and risk. He shares how he wound up in the world of infrastructure and why a lifetime learning attitude is the key to success
What are the three biggest lessons in your career so far?
Firstly, as the career journey is usually long, join a company or find a job that you know you will enjoy and find meaningful. Secondly, it’s important to adopt a lifelong learning attitude. As an example, cash management tools, financial instruments and investment products have evolved dramatically in the last decade. This requires us to stay up to date with the latest market trends and technologies. Lastly, when someone asks you to do something beyond your scope of work, try your best and learn from it. Approaching new experiences with a positive attitude always leads to growth.
What attracted you to the role?
After I left the Big Four, I joined the Airport Authority Hong Kong as their treasury analyst. It was where I began to understand the value of infrastructure to society. I also participated in the feasibility study of building the third runway. At the time, I had heard about the development of West Kowloon Cultural District, and searched for a treasury-related job opening there, but there was none. After that, I headed the treasury team of a local construction company and a multinational focused on delivering infrastructure projects in Asia Pacific. This experience developed my interest in the field. Later on, a recruitment agent coincidently called me about the WKCDA role. For me, it was an opportunity to deliver meaningful infrastructure, while nurturing the cultural heritage of Hong Kong and the Mainland.
How have you seen the role of a corporate treasurer evolve?
In the old days, corporate treasury was mainly a support function for the cash and risk management of the company. But that is not enough anymore. Corporate treasurers are now required to understand all types of new payment acceptance channels and bring in more cash collection options for customers. They also need to assist the company in updating its cash management workflow, such as by implementing automation through the enterprise resource planning system. Incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) elements into the company capital management and treasury objectives is also now inevitable.
In what ways has your CPA qualification helped you in your career?
The qualification is not only about the knowledge we obtain, as accounting standards change from time to time. It provides us with the skill set to think and learn continuously. Being an Institute member, it is a lifelong commitment to maintain our professionalism and integrity, and to update ourselves on new market practices to develop a more transparent and fair financial market.
Tell us about your involvement in WKCDA’s HK$4 billion Sustainability-linked Loan (SLL)?
I was substantially involved, from exploring the financing options, negotiating the commercial terms with potential lenders, obtaining the required approval, negotiating the legal terms, setting the ESG targets and executing the legal documentation. It showcases how a statutory organization can link financing objectives with green and social targets. It’s no longer about maximizing value for shareholders alone, as the government, finance industry and corporates are now working together to change the rules of the game and incentivize organizations that value ESG. As a corporate treasurer, I find it very meaningful taking part in this journey, which benefits both our organization and future generations.