Cultivating international contacts is essential
With 30-plus years in the accountancy profession, Charles Chan, chief executive of Crowe Horwath (HK) CPA, knows there is always something new to learn.
Last year for Chan, it was how to manage the process of conversion from a mid-sized local firm with roughly 300 staff to being an integral part of a major United States-based international practice.
The changes were not necessarily dramatic, but did require different approaches and new internal procedures to comply with the "rule book" already used by the other offices in a worldwide network.
"Our company has grown a lot over the years," Chan says. "We saw us keeping our high standard as one of the advantages of joining a big international family, as well as the chance to get a higher degree of recognition from the capital markets."
He is confident this will now open the door to more involvement with mainland companies considering Hong Kong initial public offerings, and with overseas investment funds moving into the mainland market.
For this type of work, it is essential to have international contacts, consistently high technical standards and to invest heavily in training and evelopment.
"In general, I believe there will be more mergers in future as Chinese firms take the lead in looking for broader co-operation with business partners in Hong Kong," Chan says.
To be ready for expansion, he indicates that the firm expects to hire 50 to 60 new recruits at any time from the Lunar New Year onwards. Applicants with a degree in accounting will have a slight head start, but graduates in other disciplines are also encouraged to apply.
"What you learn about accounting in college is only the fundamental knowledge," Chan says. "The most important thing is the professional qualification and what you learn on the job. You have to pick up judgment and analytical skills through experience and comprehensive training."