Features | From Pivot Magazine

This CPA is known for her forensic accounting and kickboxing wins

From fighting financial crime to fighting in the ring, Sue-Ling Yip continues to rake in the accolades

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CPA Sue-Ling Yip stands by weight training equipment in a gymForensic accountant by day, Muay Thai fighter and bodybuilder by night, CPA Sue-Ling Yip is fit for the challenge. (Photo by May Truong)

At 47, Sue-Ling Yip’s storied career successes at the forefront of forensic accounting match her accolades in the physically demanding fields of Muay Thai and professional bodybuilding—placing in the top five in nearly a dozen shows and bringing home the Miss Figure Canada title in 2014. Not yet satisfied with these accomplishments, Sue-Ling plans a return to professional bodybuilding by the time she’s 50.

How long have you worked in the forensic accounting field?

I’ve spent over 25 years working in financial services, from regulatory compliance to anti-money laundering. This year, I’m celebrating my third anniversary at KPMG as one of the partners in forensic practice where I run the financial crime solutions.

What inspires you to do this type of work?

Both 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis are the two major events that made the profession more prominent with financial institutions and regulated sectors having to build compliance programs. It was an opportunity near and dear to my heart, a chance for me to fight against human trafficking and terrorist financing, crimes that affect the safety of all Canadians. Even though it’s behind the scenes, the work my team does is really important.

When did you start fighting competitively?

In 1998, I moved to Toronto from Montreal to work in financial services and joined a Muay Thai (martial arts) gym as a hobby. I would show up at the office with all these bruises and black eyes from training, confusing my coworkers. But I really enjoyed it and ended up training and fighting in Thailand and, in 2009, I won gold at a provincial championship.

What drew you to competitive bodybuilding?

I witnessed the transformation of a few women at my gym who trained for a fitness show, and I was amazed and impressed. And since I’m a person who likes a challenge, I signed up. I started in 2009 and placed in the top five at several shows until 2016.

How do you balance your competitive schedule with your work?

With work and a full-time athletic career—it’s difficult. You don’t sleep much because you spend the day at work and then up to two-and-a-half hours at the gym at night. I would be out of my home from seven in the morning to 10 at night, only to repeat it the next day. It all came down to careful time management which helped throughout the day.

Is there a CPA skill that transfers over to your competitive life?

My colleagues at the office tell me that I’m very disciplined, organized and structured. And I think that transfers over from my bodybuilding because competing requires me to also be disciplined, organized and structured.

What about the other way around?

With bodybuilding, everything you do, you gotta do it right. There’s no cheating. You can’t cheat on your diet, you can’t cheat on your workout. Well, you don’t cheat yourself at work either. It puts you in a very disciplined mindset, and then you become obsessed with perfection. So, that’s not a bad thing to bring to work either.


Read about other CPAs with alter egos, such as Shawn Kanungo, a CPA turned innovation strategist who is pushing for change in public sector accounting, and Ariana Azhari, a CPA who volunteers at an equine therapy service to assist riders with disabilities.