Firm looks to hire top professionals
Exemplifying the adage that accountancy is close to being recession-proof, the Big Four firms kept hiring last year and plan significant recruitment campaigns this year. For instance, in round numbers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu took on 1,000 people for its mainland practice last year, including 250 in Hong Kong, and expects to take on a slightly higher total over the next 12 months.
"We review on an ongoing basis and, every year, the hiring plan corresponds to business needs and the overall situation," says Derek Lai, FCPA (Aust), the firm's Asia leader for reorganisation services and national operation officer for financial advisory services. "But with the [economic] recovery, we will probably look for more in 2010. China is one of the priority markets."
Lai notes that new offices have opened in Hangzhou, Chongqing and Xiamen. Projections indicate that a better outlook for business should spur demand for work related to initial public offerings, financing, tax provisions, and specialist advisory services.
To capture opportunities and build a broader client base, Deloitte emphasises the need for high training standards. A key challenge is developing local talent with the skills, relationships and know-how to move up to management roles.
"The client looks to us for top-quality service and the best value-added advice," Lai says. "Therefore, we have a large training department to provide courses across the board."
He adds that applicants can have either accounting or non-accounting degrees. The recruitment team will note academic results and any professional experience, but look especially for "star potential" and a balanced set of attributes. These include strong communication skills, language abilities, a commitment to the profession, and integrity.
"We need people who uphold the highest professional standards, as well as having analytical minds and problem-solving skills," Lai says.