Then and now: Peter Wong FCPA

Peter Wong with former CPA Australia president Penny Egan and Malaysia Division president Alex Ooi.

Ninety-five-year-old Peter Wong FCPA lives between Sydney and Malaysia. He recently received an award for 75 years as a CPA.

"It’s hard to choose a picture because I didn’t take many during my [younger] days.

This particular one [below] I chose because it was like a fork in the road. I was in the airforce – this was during World War II [1942] – and you didn’t have time for pictures much then. This happened to be taken while I was on leave.

Someone took a photo of me at a boat race festival and next thing I knew, I was in the papers!

Not long after that we were demobilised. Now being in the airforce, all you had to do was just follow orders. You didn’t have to think much about making decisions. Coming out from the airforce and deciding on what to do next, I was approached by a friend who had a plumbing business. We got on well together and he asked me to join him.

But, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life administering a plumbing business.

So I headed for Sydney. I was probably about 23 or 24. I didn’t know anybody there and that was tough. One day, I just decided to wander around the city to look for an office. And I found one to start my practice.

You see, I was already a qualified accountant before enlisting in the airforce. Those who were like me – they joined back with their old firms after being demobilised. For me, it was different. New to Sydney, I had to start fresh and that meant spreading my wings quite wide into the community to build contacts with people. And I was quite active, too.

Peter Wong on leave during wartime.

Peter Wong on leave during wartime.

I was the treasurer to the New South Wales Spastic Centre. I was invited to be a member of the local Rotary Club and later became its foundation treasurer.

In those days, you were not allowed to advertise [your practice]. You were only allowed to put 'Peter Wong – Accountant'. That’s it. So being involved in the community helped me to establish myself as an accountant.

My career went very smoothly after that. My most memorable time was when I had the chance to work in Hong Kong from 1977 to 1990 and established PK Wong & Co.

I had a wonderful time there and pride myself with providing a personalised service. That was the last 'active' post I had. Today, I divide my time between Sydney and Malaysia, my second home, and spend time with my wonderful wife."

So what would you tell the young man in the photo?

Don’t be afraid to make your own decisions, right or wrong.

Of course you’ll make wrong decisions as well, but you know what – because I’m here now, I know that I’ve made some decisions right.

Take on responsibilities and don’t be afraid of them."

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This article is from the July 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.

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