"I feel that our influence far exceeded our numbers. We had a lot of impact in the development of our profession in the region, and I am very proud of that."

Phoebe Hao Yu, Council member

Venetian paved the way for the Silk Road, the trade route which fuelled a trading boom across the hemispheres and changed world history.

Fast forward 700 years and Phoebe Yu, a student from the city of Shenzen close to Polo’s historic route, was ready to play her part in building bridges between the world’s finance systems. The process had implications for the world economy which were just as significant as those wrought by Polo.

‘It was the 1990s, and I was a young student searching for a career that was right for me,’ said Phoebe.

‘I happened to pick up a newspaper, and it had an advert inviting Chinese people to train for accountancy. It talked about how this business wanted to close the gap between the Chinese and western accounting systems which existed at the time, and it made perfect sense to me. It sounded like a worthwhile goal, and I was inspired to apply. It looked to me like great chance to achieve something.’

Phoebe is proud that during her career, that bold ambition has come about – in large part due to the patient promotion of ACCA members.

Changed everything

‘I don’t think the Chinese economy could have grown as it has without having a sound accounting system in place,’ said Phoebe. ‘Chinese businesses needed to speak the same financial language as their partners across the world, and that has  now come to pass.’

Phoebe said that ACCA’s influence has grown with the years.

‘I qualified in 1998 when ACCA had one office in China, in Beijing. In south China we sometimes felt remote, but that changed in 2004 when ACCA opened a new office in the south,’ she said. ‘That changed everything.

‘We started the South China Steering Group, and 30 of us met regularly to talk to each other, and to talk to students and employers. I feel that our influence far exceeded our numbers. We had a lot of impact in the development of our profession in the region, and I am very proud of that.’

Phoebe was elected chairman of the steering group, where she helped ACCA to establish a relationship with Chinese government agencies. From that followed election to represent ACCA at IFAC, and a chance to spread her passion for ACCA and accountancy around the world.

"As we have grown in China, our voice has grown stronger in promoting the values of good ethics, caring for society and sustainability."

‘Now I feel like so much of what I wanted to do has happened,’ she said, ‘and ACCA has made it possible.

‘ACCA’s philosophy has always been to think globally, and that is exactly what China’s economy needed. It needed that discipline and drive to open up to the world; to accept international standards; to follow international regulations, and to adopt a strategic mindset. That has been so important to China’s growth, and as an ACCA member it’s been a privilege to work with the Ministry of Finance to help grow the profession here.

‘ACCA continues in all this work. As we have grown in China, our voice has grown stronger in promoting the values of good ethics, caring for society and sustainability.’

Phoebe, who is now Chief Financial Officer of Venture Capital company in Shenzen, shows her commitment to sustainability and care for the community in her free time away from work and ACCA. She lends her expertise to  the city’s Mangrove Wetlands Conservation Foundation, which was established in 2012 as China’s first publicly funded environmental project. It looks after a wild haven in the heart of the urban sprawl, and children from across the region visit the reserve to learn about the wonders of the natural world, and to enjoy the abundance of bird, plant and animal life.

Special place

‘It is a joy to preserve something so valuable in our fast-growing city for people to enjoy,’ said Phoebe.

‘We have a duty to protect our world, and this is a wonderful way to cherish a special place which is right on our own doorstep. It is a living example of what sustainability and respect for civic values really means.’