Risk managers top wanted list
Doing deals on the mainland is a famously risky proposition, but one that has given rise to a growing army of specialists, armed with insider-knowledge to assist outsiders overcome business hurdles that are unique to mainland China.
Among them is Albert Louie, founder of A. Louie Associates in Hong Kong and chief representative of intelligent management solutions in Beijing.
With a bicultural background - a result of studying and working in North America and Asia - the Beijing-born Louie has gained extensive experience in risk management, having done business in both Chinese and Western business environments.
China's explosive growth has attracted a great influx of investments and ambitious outsiders seeking a piece of the action. However, businesses and individuals are all too often venturing forth without doing enough `homework', he says.
"Mainland China is more rigorously regulated than many outsiders perceive it to be. Due diligence is enforced and regulated by a number of domestic and international regulatory bodies, with the former including the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Public Security," he adds.
Louie says China has also reacted to external factors and legislation, such as the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and rules issued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. "Through these means, efforts have been stepped up with Chinese regulators to bring about greater transparency, and easier access to mainland Chinese auditors. Nevertheless, there are good reasons why risk-management remains a growth sector," he adds.
All players in risk management who operate on the mainland endeavour to illuminate the cloudy nature of China's commercial landscape, to enable their clients to achieve the most profitable results, and with the least cross-cultural aggravation and `red-tape', says Louie.
And the arena of risk management as a career path is growing with the growth of the mainland economy, and also with the steady trickle of horror stories - embellished or otherwise, by frustrated non-Chinese entrepreneurs - that emerge from north of the Hong Kong border.
What are the skills required for this line of work? "Returnees have a natural advantage here," says Louie. "In general, they are more adept at identifying and dealing with cultural differences. A good command of English and Putonghua is essential - and Cantonese, the more the better... It's demanding work, but the remuneration can be very good," he says.