Roy Lo, managing partner of ShineWing, China’s first accounting firm in Hong Kong, shares his leadership philosophy
Commitment and the ability to handle expectations are the two leadership qualities Roy Lo Wa-kei, managing partner at ShineWing, believes are essential to good leadership.
An accounting industry veteran of more than 20 years, he says these qualities are the biggest contributors to his success at the helm of the first mainland accounting firm in Hong Kong. “We depend on teamwork to get things done, and we need staff with good commitment. Working in an accounting office, personal commitment to the job leads to stronger engagement,” Lo says.
Managing expectations is also crucial in a service industry, he adds. “Clients have different expectations from regulators and the general public. Even within the company, junior staff have different expectations from managers, who have different expectations from partners. So it’s important to teach staff about meeting expectations. Success will come when your performance exceeds the expectations.”
Lo talks passionately about how lucky he is to have the opportunity to learn about many different industries. “In the morning, I could attend a meeting on [mainland] property firms, and in the afternoon, I could be working on an IPO case in IT in Hong Kong. I get to learn about so many industries.”
He believes good leadership takes passion and the ability to delegate. “I find good people, so I fully delegate. This is very important as it allows me to spend more time focusing on new business and clients.”
Lo graduated in 1993 from the University of Hong Kong having majored in business administration. He entered the auditing industry at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then known as Price Waterhouse, and was seconded to the training department. He joined ShineWing in 2006, a year after the mainland CPA (certified public accounting) firm entered the Hong Kong market. This was an exciting time for Lo, who saw it as an opportunity to help promote local accountants in China and help local CPA firms to develop.
“The main reason why I wanted to join was because the Chinese market was very important and there were huge development opportunities for professionals. Many state-owned enterprises and private enterprises in China were maturing and getting ready to list in Hong Kong – there was a huge change in the capital market in Hong Kong,” he says.
But shifting from a multinational Western accounting firm to a China-based firm took some adjustment. “The key difference was that PwC had major international clients from developed countries such as the US and UK who were familiar with the international and commercial rules. But in China, the focus is more on relationships, and state-owned enterprises have a more regulated background. So when we perform professional work, we have to deal with the government and have very good Mandarin to communicate with them.”
Lo says an emphasis on staff development helps employees build a long-term career with the company.
He says junior staff at ShineWing receive more technical training, while senior staff are trained in soft skills, time management, portfolio management and communication skills. “I have been trying to change the culture and hear the voice of our staff and have focus groups.”
He drew from his experience to implement a performance-based appraisal system that encourages staff to provide input and fosters personal growth. He also helped develop a staff book, Grow with Us, which outlines and supports staff development.
A passionate music lover, Lo also emphasises leisure time for his staff and regularly holds company-wide events such as movie nights, visits to theme parks, and organises various volunteer activities with charities such as Playright.
Lo foresees that in the coming 10 years, the accounting profession will take off in China as the country produces more homegrown accountants. He aims to attract this new generation by offering developmental opportunities and a real career path with the company. “My approach is not top-down and I am more concerned about the feedback and the staff,” he says. “I want to hear their voice.”
Boss of the balance sheet
Roy Lo lists four lessons from his 20-plus years in accounting
Grow constantly “Invest heavily in staff training and development, which is significant to their personal and professional growth – meaning the quality of work is enhanced to better serve clients.”
Maintain standards “We should protect the public interest and safeguard the benefits of accountants. It is more about enhancing the service standards and building sustainability in the industry.”
Delegate appropriately “The right tasks to the right people based on their capabilities and suitability, which helps to achieve the highest efficiency and satisfaction.”
Follow your interests “I’ve had to switch working cultures and if I had no passion, I would not have been able to continue my work.”