Integrity counts the most
The first step is a coveted membership in the Deloitte Club for first-year accounting students, to receive mentoring, career advice, internships, and a chance to experience the firm's culture.
Promoted on campuses around February, only about 30 students will pass the April evaluation and become members out of more than 500 applicants.
The second hurdle will be getting the job, and the company is strict with its requirements.
"Academic results, experience, as well as personality and soft skills, are important. And most important of all, they need to have a strong interest in the profession and the potential to succeed," says July Kong, director of human resources for Deloitte China, which has 2,000 employees in Hong Kong.
She says integrity, professionalism and adherence to the highest professional standards are important for an accountant. Analytical and problem-solving abilities and communication and interpersonal skills are also crucial, as well as technical knowledge and industry expertise. An understanding of the mainland market, its business and regulatory practices is also required.
"As a professional services firm that is adopting a multidisciplinary approach in serving our clients, we look for people with multiple competencies and potentials. We, therefore, recruit graduates from both accounting and non-accounting majors."
Kong adds that non-accounting graduates will take a 13-week full-time conversion programme conducted by the City University of Hong Kong, covering key accounting and business principles.
The company's professional designation support helps staff to take professional qualifications through examination revision programmes, study texts, study leave and different bonuses and premiums earned by completing qualifications.
Further support is provided by the buddy system and career counselling. "Through [these], our recruits can understand more about not only the profession, but also their own career aspirations," Kong says.
She adds that, for smooth career development, three competencies are needed - knowledge, skills and behaviour. Development is ensured by well-designed learning processes throughout one's career.
Deloitte Institute offers formal learning, covering technical, industry and service excellence, management, leadership and sales and marketing.
"The dynamic nature of the profession requires the professionals to have strong technical skills, diverse competencies, a high level of tenacity and a passion for lifelong learning. It is crucial for the accounting professionals to also keep themselves abreast of evolving expectations of the businesses and regulators," Kong says.
Being at the receiving end of all the training and demanding requirements, audit senior Cynthia Tse appreciates the help she gets. "We can enrol in different training courses which help unleash our potential at different stages of our career," she says.
Her biggest challenge was time and people management, and meeting deadlines while boosting the team's morale. But whatever the challenge, she advises junior staff to take it. "Challenges are rewarding. Seize every opportunity to learn and develop your potential," Tse says.