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FINANCIAL SERVICES | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Hong Kong
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Hong Kong's 25 largest accounting firms 2015

Increasing regulations and expansions are boosting the need for talent.

In the wake of the financial crisis, new regulations and shifts in the organizational role of Financial Planning & Analysis have been fuelling the need for qualified talent to help navigate companies through the increasingly complex business environment. “Recruitment activity remains active in the accounting market in 2015 across all levels” according to Michael Page HK Director Rebecca Chan. The rapid development of the broad Asian economy has also led to a rapid expansion of Asian corporates with similarly growing headcount requirements. Game-changing developments such as Basel III and SIFI (Systemically Important Financial Institutions) require extensive professional to comprehend, implement, and monitor compliance given that they require a complete rethinking of the way in which organizations operate.

Robert Walters HK’s Andrew Blake notes that he has been seeing hiring activity “across the spectrum of finance responsibilities – treasury, tax, internal audit, financial controlling, FP&A, M&A, etc.” He notes that there is currently a shortage of skilled Financial Accounting & Controlling professionals given that much of existing talent is being drawn towards new FP&A. Given that companies are building their finance departments to increasingly contribute to the decision making process, many professionals have been diverted away from the core controlling & reporting responsibilities.

According to Rebecca Chan, there is a lot of headcount requirement coming from mainland firms looking to have their global overseas headquarters in Hong Kong. These firms are focused on credit risk assessment candidates and treasury professionals. Keith Wong of Randstand Hong Kong notes that Hong Kong continues to be a preferred gateway to China for many businesses, and this will fuel the need for HK-based talent. Heightening regulations have also increased the need for certain segments within the profession such as compliance, credit risk, and internal auditors. According to Andrew Blake, the amendment to the Inland Revenue Ordinance and the tax rate cut for Corporate Treasury Centers will spur an increase in demand for professionals to help companies adapt to these ew regulations. According to Randstand HK’s Keith Wong, businesses are more cautious in approving new headcount given the looming global economic uncertainty. A large part of hiring demand will continue to be driven by replacements rather than new department headcount.

Who made it to HKB’s list?

In Hong Kong Business’ fourth year of ranking accounting firms based on total number of staff, PricewaterhouseCoopers maintained its top position with a headcount of 3,500. While rising to the second position from the third spot last year is Ernst & Young with 2,350 total number of staff. It is then followed by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu HK and KPMG with 2,200 and 2,100 headcount respectively. Generally, this year’s list of accounting firms remained stable except from some firms which experienced a slight increase and decrease in headcount. Mazars in particular seen a decrease of 25 staff from last year’s 280 to 255. Whislt Baker Tilly Hong Kong seen an increase of 12 people from 268
last year to 280 this year.

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