Chinafat: Accounting opportunities abound in financial services
Annie Chinafat, audit principal at KPMG (Bahamas) is a Fellow of The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA), a member of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants and of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago. Chinafat, married, has also received accreditation in international insurance management from the Global Insurance Institute at Wharton University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
What attracted you to a career in the sector?
This goes a long way back; in fact from the time I was at college in Trinidad and attended a career guidance seminar. Although provided with a number of options, I was fascinated with the information provided to become an accountant and the various careers one can have in this field. On completion of my Cambridge A Level examinations I was hired by KPMG in Trinidad and provided with a career path to attain my professional qualification as a Certified Chartered Accountant through the work/study program. I was then awarded a scholarship by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago to continue my professional qualification in England. During my years in the UK I also worked with a private accounting firm which helped to develop my career. On my return to Trinidad I was hired by the Ministry of Finance and assisted in the preparation of the country’s budget and was a liaison for the various Government ministries and departments assigned in my portfolio. I then re-joined KPMG in Trinidad and was quickly promoted to Manager. I was excited with my career move back to KPMG as it provided me with the continuous training and experience and allowed me to continually enhance my knowledge in the accounting, auditing and taxation field. KPMG provided me with numerous opportunities to work abroad, training held at various KPMG offices around the world and the ability to interact with fellow KPMG employees in other countries. I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience in the financial services sector and through the KPMG Global Mobility program came to The Bahamas in 1998. My career path with KPMG has allowed me to learn about various industries including for example, banking, insurance, investment and oil and gas. I have been with KPMG for the most part of my career life and enjoy being a part of this international organization.
What does your present job entail?
Presently I lead the Insurance practice at KPMG and train our staff in the auditing of all types of insurance products. I am also the Principal on a number of investment funds and banking engagements. My job also entails liaising with other KPMG firms in other regions to obtain the latest Thought Leadership materials in these sectors and provide on-going International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and industry updates to our staff and clients. I am intimately involved with the audits in the field and interacting with clients to provide the necessary advice and guidance as required. I am also involved with certain aspects of the human resources functions which include the scheduling of staff onto engagements and the hiring of new employees. My job allows me to multi task and to excel in providing quality service, which is the driving force behind the life of an auditor.
What keeps you motivated?
The daily challenges keep me motivated and allow me to grow! I enjoy what I do and everything else falls in line. I have always been passionate about my job and look forward to developing and training my staff and clients and expanding my knowledge. There can never be a dull moment in this field as my portfolio of clients provides the impetus for challenges and motivation and with the on-going changes in the global economic climate and new regulations you have to keep on top of it all. I am always enthusiastic about learning whether it’s in auditing or in an area that has no relevance to my immediate job.
Why do you think you have been successful?
Successful – I can only describe this as hard work, dedication and eagerness to achieve results. As mentioned before, I have always been passionate about my job and truly love what I do. Keeping on top of changes in the profession, always willing to assist others, being a team player and respectful of others and continuous relationship building. I have also been provided with the necessary tools and guidance by my employer to achieve my goals. My husband is also my greatest motivator and listener to my end of day stories. I pride myself in doing my best in everything that I am involved with.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
In order to have a career in the auditing/accounting field you will at least need to have a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and then you can progress to obtaining your professional qualifications in accounting. To continue to keep abreast of changes, it is necessary to have continuous professional education (CPE) which I obtained through my employment by attending various training courses during the year. At KPMG, it is a requirement to undergo various forms of training such as hands-on, class-room or internet based training in order meet the firm’s required hours of CPE. Working in an international location also aided in my development process as it provided me with the exposure of different accounting practices, industries and people.
Why is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services?
The financial services sector in The Bahamas is very vibrant and competitive with other tax saving jurisdictions and as such, offers a career in all areas in this sector. Our youth are the future of our country and as such we should inspire and encourage them to excel in their education today in order to have a successful career in financial services and to have an ‘open door’ at all times. Opportunities will be endless and especially in the public accounting field, there are numerous opportunities for auditors, accountants, fund accountants, bankers and the list goes on. Always have the thirst for learning as you can never be fully quenched for knowledge.
Decide on the career you would like to pursue and go with the determination to achieve it. If you are undecided, I would suggest that you speak to anyone in the financial services industry to help you through the process.
As The Bahamas is in a competitive environment with other tax saving jurisdictions, we need to ensure that we meet or exceed in our service levels, regulations, products, accessibility and competitiveness. In order to continue to grow the financial services sector, continuous promotion of The Bahamas to the international market is vital, which certain organizations such as The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) have been actively involved in. There is also a need to ensure that there is proper review/impact analysis taking place to identify deficiencies and areas of strength within the sector. The cost of doing business in The Bahamas also needs to be taken into consideration and the level of bureaucracy should be kept to a minimum. The continual development and upkeep of the infrastructure and communication, which the Government has recognized and is presently addressing. We need to continue to invest into the education system in The Bahamas as this forms the foundation for a well-educated nation and which will also help to maintain a safe environment for investors and aid in the promotion of the financial services sector.
We must always strive for excellence in all that we do, so that we are seen and known for quality service which would lead to the continual growth of the financial services sector in The Bahamas.