Accountants in heavy demand

by Isabella Lee

Andrew Chan, director
recruitment and resourcing, human resources, KPMG
Photo: Wallace Chan

Factors for young talents to weigh before signing a contract

Thanks to China's economic boom and the continuing growth in Hong Kong's business environment, accounting professionals are today enjoying opportunity-laden times.

Foreign investors need reliable financial advice to build up their businesses in China, while Hong Kong firms facing the challenge of the open marketplace are seeking professional services to compete internationally.

"With the sustained growth of the China and Hong Kong markets, the supply of talents will in general continue to be tight," says Andrew Chan, director, recruitment and resourcing, human resources of KPMG in China and Hong Kong. "As for our firm, the demand for talents is huge since we are planning a twofold increase in staff in the next five years."

Currently, KPMG employs over 5,200 people in Beijing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau. To cope with the company's growth strategy, in addition to graduates, the firm will be looking selectively for experienced professionals to fill openings at middle and senior management levels. "We have an established internal progression path for talented and aggressive employees to step forward into these roles. However, there are areas where we may find some external experienced individuals necessary to bridge the gaps," Mr Chan points out.

"Our growth will be across all the firm's activities covering audit, tax and advisory services. Due to the nature of the business, we believe that the advisory practice will need more experienced professionals from the external industries," he adds.

KPMG's advisory services offer solutions to address the urgent strategic and operational challenges its clients face. Meanwhile, the firm's financial advisory services (FAS) cover an array of disciplines from corporate finance and fraud investigations to market analysis and due diligence to support mergers and acquisitions. Meanwhile, KPMG's risk advisory services (RAS) provide IT reviews and advice, internal audit services, financial risk management and business process reviews. Notably, specialists in private equity, real estate, integration and valuation are sought after for FAS whereas talents with experience in business performance services and information audit services are needed for RAS.

Superior environment

While some accounting firms are fishing in a relatively small pool of quality recruits, KPMG's success in attracting and retaining talents can be attributed to its company culture, according to Mr Chan. He believes that talented professionals are looking for more than just pay. "We have an environment where people can contribute, learn and add value to businesses," he stresses. "At the same time, they get the chance to work with team leaders who lead by example and team members who respect one another. Integrity is our watchword. The contributions made by individual staff are valued and rewarded fairly."

Apart from competitive pay rates, KPMG attracts promising talents because of the splendid career prospects it offers, says Mr Chan, citing the example of an auditor. "Our typical career path will mean progressing from accountant, assistant manager, manager, senior manager and eventually to become a partner," he notes. "But some employees who show extraordinary talent and dedication in their work can be further fast-tracked in their careers. It all depends on merit and performance. Correspondingly, we have transparent guidelines for rewards and appraisals for every employee."

To many experienced long-serving professionals, the breadth of experience and further personal development are the main reasons they stay with KPMG. "The most appealing of all is the experience of working with different clients in different industries, and interacting with personnel from different management levels of these organisations," Mr Chan says. "Some of the managers will have obvious opportunities to lead and guide teams. We have also developed a comprehensive in-house professional development programme that caters for professionals and managers at all levels, to improve their personal, managerial, technical and leadership capabilities."

Overseas secondments

With KPMG's scale and vast range of clients around the globe, secondments to member firms in other countries under a global mobility programme provide opportunities for worldwide work exposure. "To broaden our people's experience and skills, we have developed a global mobility programme through which they can be seconded to member firms in the US and the UK. In the same way, staff members from these countries will also work in our offices in Hong Kong and China," Mr Chan explains. Secondments will normally last between six months to two years. The programme serves not only to transfer knowledge and deliver value to clients, but also enrich each employee's experience professionally and personally.

"Besides the technical competencies, we cherish behaviour that aligns with our firm's culture and values as in leading by example, working together, being open and honest in communications, committed to communities and above all, believing in the highest integrity," Mr Chan concludes.


Taken from Career Times 20 July 2007
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