Career Advice Recruitment tips

E&Y accountant gains assets

Like many accounting students, Nelson Li Chun-fai, staff accountant level one in the financial services division at Ernst & Young (E&Y), was drawn to the sector by the prospects of working for a Big Four accounting firm.

“I was inspired to choose an accounting career after reading an article in the school newsletter by an alumnus who worked for a Big Four company. I said to myself, this is a challenging job where I will have the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment and learn and grow with a group of peers,” he says.

Li got his chance to enter a Big Four firm when E&Y hosted a recruitment talk at his university during his final year.

“I was very impressed by the professionalism and friendliness of the presenters, so I immediately applied for a position at the company. After getting through different rounds of assessments and interviews, I was chosen from a group of competitive candidates and was offered a position as a staff accountant level one in financial services,” he says.

As a newcomer, Li’s main responsibility is to assist the senior accountant. “My duties include helping senior accountants carry out audit procedures and handling clients’ enquiries. I do not follow a routine. I travel to clients’ offices a lot and have the opportunity to interact and work with individuals of varying seniority across different industries. The experience is eye-opening,” he says.

Li had a pleasant surprise when he visited a client’s office during Lunar New Year. “We were greeted warmly by a group of people dressed in traditional Chinese costume. There was also a lion dance performance, which was a real treat for me as it was the first time I had seen a lion dance inside an office. This was an unforgettable experience as well as a heartening rewarding to know that our efforts in ensuring client satisfaction had paid off,” he says.

The team spirit at E&Y makes Li feel confident about his work. “I work on every engagement with a supportive and reliable team. We undertake challenges and share our successes together. We also have great division of labour. I gained invaluable knowledge and information from experience-sharing with senior members of the team who have vast industry experience. I am also happy to make friends from the network that E&Y as a global company offers,” he says.

Li thinks accounting students need to have a strong academic base and a good understanding of future job duties if they are to adequately prepare to become accounting professionals.

“Many large accounting firms offer internships during the summer and winter breaks, which give students a chance to gain hands-on experience,” he says. “Universities also often hold events such as firm visits and sharing sessions by accounting professionals, which can provide a good insight into an accountant’s life.”