Overseas Study Trip Broadens CUHK Accountancy Students’ Horizons beyond Their Specialty

Led by Mr. Eric Leung, Associate Director of Professional Accountancy (PACC) Programme and Senior Lecturer of School of Accountancy, a group of 12 Year 2 Global Accounting stream students went on a two-week study trip to the United Kingdom and Switzerland in June.

With the help of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the group visited the head offices of Barclays and Unilever in London to understand the role of accounting in the banking and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries. Professional Accountancy (Global Accounting Stream) student Patrick So shared, “In the presentation by the finance team at Unilever, we heard about an interesting budgeting method called ‘zero-based budgeting’, which is different from the traditional budgeting approach we learned in class. The finance team explained to us how such approach helps reduce operational costs. This is my first time to see how practical accounting information can be used at a strategic level.”

As part of the UK visit, students attended a seminar at the Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge by Dr. Michael Willis, Senior Faculty in Management Practice and Director of the Global Leadership Master of Accounting Programme. Student Li Changhao recalled, “Dr. Willis introduced how a company’s environmental impacts would be included in the preparation of financial statements. His step-by-step guidance of a real-life case inspired me much as Dr. Willis demonstrated interactions between accounting, law and risk management relating to climate change.”

The group with Dr. Michael Willis of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge
The group with Dr. Michael Willis of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge

The lecture was followed by a corporate visit to AstraZeneca, one of the largest global biopharmaceutical businesses. “AstraZeneca’s global sustainability team shared with us how the business achieves its sustainability development goals. The team highlighted their practical approach in implementing sustainability strategies which are far more than just focussing on environmental protection,” Li added.

Sharing session hosted by the global sustainability team of AstraZeneca at Cambridge
Sharing session hosted by the global sustainability team of AstraZeneca at Cambridge

The trip continued with another week in Switzerland, with 14 CUHK Master of Accountancy Programme students joining the group. PACC (Global Accounting Stream) student Nick Wong commented, “The scenery of Switzerland is always breath-taking, so is her innovation performance.” Themed as The Future Banking, the sharing session hosted by Swissquote, a leading provider of online financial and trading services, demonstrates why Switzerland can retain crown as the ‘world’s most innovative nation’. “We always hear about FinTech. The demonstrations of its key digital investment products during our visit to Swissquote let us understand how algorithms help offer new solutions to clients,” Wong added.

The group at Swissquote headquarters at Gland
The group at Swissquote headquarters at Gland

One of the key features of this study trip is students are required to present their recommendations to various identified business issues in two Switzerland-based companies. One of the cases is related to Reuge, a manufacturer of traditional music boxes with over 150 years’ history. “Running a business is much more than just writing up a proposal. You can never come up with a convincing strategy without paying attention to an important attribute – feasibility. Different from cases in our traditional assignments, this real business case analysis requires us to take everything into consideration rather than just creating something ‘grand’,” concluded Wong for his presentation experience to the CEO and the Global Sales and Marketing Director of Reuge.

Visiting the production area in Reuge
Exploring one of the products of Reuge, the ‘Singing Bird’
The team answering the questions raised by the Global Sales and Marketing Director of Reuge, a music box manufacturer in Switzerland
Another team after their business case presentation at Maurice Lacroix, a watch manufacturing company in Switzerland

To enrich the students’ understanding of different accounting-related issues further, the group attended lectures at the University of Lausanne. Student Sachiko Surjono recalled her two-day classroom experience, “Many of the lectures touched on topics not being covered in our curriculum at CUHK. One of them is related to the valuation and accounting disclosures of football clubs which are very popular in Europe. We might know how to conduct a simple valuation of a traditional company. However, during this seminar we were made aware of how to use accounting information to value a football club!”

The group with Prof. Leonidas Doukakis of the University of Lausanne
Prof. Daniel Oyon of the University of Lausanne sharing with the group on valuation of football clubs in Europe
The students doing in-class presentation
Evening event with the students of University of Lausanne
Leisure activity in Switzerland
Leisure activity in Switzerland