Career Advice Expert Advice

Digging for staff who find real facts

An accounting firm with offices in Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Beijing, which has grown from three to 60 staff in less than a decade, is recruiting staff for further expansion.

“There has been increasing demand for our specialised skills,” says John Lees, director of JLA Asia. “We are currently recruiting for junior and intermediate accountants in Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen. We are also always on the lookout for senior staff.”

Fresh accounting graduates who have some audit or commercial experience and are studying for an accounting qualification are welcome to apply. For intermediate-level positions, applicants should be qualified accountants with about four years’ work experience.

Lees says the company has a good mix of people, with females making up about 60 per cent of employees.

The number-one requirement is integrity. “We trust our employees. We have internal controls in place, but 100 per cent integrity is very important,” says Lees, who has lived in Hong Kong for 25 years.

Applicants should be good team players and, to be successful, they should also be alert, have an analytical and enquiring mind, and the ability to ferret things out.

“They should be inquisitive and often sceptical of the ‘facts’,” says Martin Tupila, an associate director of JLA Asia. “Key skills include the ability to think critically and strategically, intuitiveness, and an ability to adapt to different situations. Presentation is also important because they will be meeting with clients and lawyers.”

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are necessary to be able to explain situations clearly to clients. A strong knowledge of IT is an advantage and so is speaking and writing Chinese, including Cantonese and Putonghua. The requirement for English is a given as nearly all reports are written in English and there is a lot of correspondence with banks, lawyers and clients that all involve English.

Joining a smaller firm, rather than a large multinational, has the advantage of getting involved in all sorts of assignments much sooner, and it is no different at JLA Asia.

“Our junior and intermediate staff are involved in transactional services, forensic accounting, restructuring and turnaround, and insolvency management services,” Tupila says.

Staff are involved in all aspects of the firm’s assignments, such as communicating with clients and lawyers, the preparation of letters and reports, analysis of complex transactions and financial statements, and conducting interviews.

“We give staff opportunities which provide them with a good overview and they can see the results at the end of the day,” says Andrew Kan, another of the firm’s associate directors.

“Here the door is always open and they can see the opportunities coming through.”

There are many aspects of the trade that can only be learned by experience. Highly experienced senior members work closely with younger staff to share knowledge. Regular staff training is held by internal and external presenters offering industry updates and overviews of current events, and presentations are held on interesting and successfully executed jobs for everyone to learn from.

The firm supports those who want to further their studies and grants study and examination leave for those who are studying for their accounting examinations.

Staff also have the opportunity to work with other offices on international assignments and, depending on the job, a lot of travel can be involved. While junior hires can look forward to a few days travel, more experienced staff may spend several months’ working on-site in locations such as Harbin or Chongqing.

The demand for forensic services has grown considerably over the last few years, and Kan expects it to go up even more in the near future.