Pioneering the future

With AI set to change the face of taxation, Anthony Lau FCPA (Aust.) of Deloitte sees accountants as the pioneers of the future.

As a partner in global accounting firm Deloitte, Anthony Lau doesn’t have much time to spare. Every day, the Hong Kong-based international tax expert works with clients and professionals from all over the world.

He’s also kept up with the development of artificial intelligence (AI), which is set to reimagine his industry in the near future. How does Lau keep on top of such a demanding role, while remaining relevant in a rapidly changing business world? An exceptional level of job satisfaction is a start.

There are always new opportunities and challenges ahead of me, which drive me to keep learning. I love the feeling of continually growing and progressing, rather than standing still.

Lau’s key responsibility is providing clients with tax advice on mergers, acquisitions, group restructuring and international transactions – across Hong Kong, China, and other Asia Pacific markets. He’s also the Hong Kong Investment Management Leader of Deloitte China.

Lau found his path for growth with the CPA Program. Established in 1886, it’s one of the largest and most influential accounting bodies in the world – and the depth of thought leadership and knowledge shared through its program delivers ongoing value for money.

“The CPA Program helped me to develop a global business mindset, which has enabled me to excel. It’s also an internationally recognized designation, highly regarded and highly respected across the world, which means I can work in any country or region.”

One area in which Lau has had a lot of experience is in meeting the challenges of globalization.

His client portfolio includes myriad cultures, mindsets, and expectations. There are clients from state-owned enterprises who seek long-standing, trusting relationships, and those from multinational companies who prefer a variety of subject matter experts. Lau’s expertise in diversity has given rise to incredible opportunities, including presenting traveling roadshows to key industry players and advising the Hong Kong government on fiscal policy.

At the same time, he’s preparing himself, his company, and his clients for a brave new world, where digitization will liberate accountants from long hours of repetitive, mundane tasks. “[As accountants], we should aim to be pioneers, steering marketing developments, rather than sticking to old paths and getting carried away by the tide. To remain competitive, we’ll have to invent and commercialize IT and AI in our businesses.”

Anthony Lau

Lau sees collaboration with other business partners as vital. As a regular attendee at CPA Congress, as well as other CPA Australia events, seminars and forums in Hong Kong and abroad, he meets like-minded peers, whose friendship and support have been so important to his professional development.

Lau envisions a future in which accountants "collaborate with AI", so there is a need for more training in cloud computing, big data analysis, digital technology and integrated reporting.

But at the same time, "the human touch – with its creativity, empathy, ideas and advisory – will become invaluable," adds Lau.

In light of growing concern for social and environmental issues, clients will expect new demands and regulatory challenges. "Accountants will have to talk less about numbers and more about the overall narrative of their organization."

So, what’s his advice for young accountants, for whom this future will be a daily reality? Firstly, he recommends attaining a professional CPA designation, because it offers the relevant knowledge and skills needed for today’s changing business environment.

Anthony Lau

While so many things change, some stay the same – including old-fashioned values. “Establish your reputation in the workplace. Be the one who is accountable, keeps promises, and meets deadlines, because every little detail matters. Be that person who people remember as reliable, responsible, and trustworthy. This will help you go a long way in your career.”

Find out more about the benefits of the CPA Program with stories from The Competitive Advantage.

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