Higher demand for M&As ahead as accountants focus on survival

But firms have to be careful in their expansion strategies.

The Hong Kong accounting industry was certainly not spared by the COVID-19 pandemic, and work needs to be done in the long road to recovery. As the new year is expected to be more fraught due to the effect often lagging behind, the sector has to be wary about investments and pivot towards reacting and surviving, said Jimmy Yip, managing director at Mazars in Hong Kong.

Firms have to be more stringent in their expansion and human resource strategies come 2021 as a result of profitability and cash flow problems such as bad debts and fee reductions. In terms of workforce, firms must also be proactive in their efforts to retain “good people”, with new modes of working continuing “for at least most of the time” in 2021, Yip added.

For BDO's managing director of assurance Clement Chan, the disruption caused by widespread travel restrictions will bring about an acceleration in IT and digitisation. The use of virtual meetings and conferences will become more widespread and acceptable as a result.

“Firms will need to prepare for changes that might come. The ability to innovate and adjust in light of the fluid market situation is of utmost importance to survive,” Chan noted.

Yip and Chan have agreed that future demand will be skewed towards mergers and acquisitions, with Chan adding that global value chain analytics, insolvency and restructuring services, and IS audit will also be sought after.

“If the disruption persists, there will be a major overhaul of many markets as many companies will disappear and many M&As will take place to survive the wave,” he said.

On the other hand, a negative economic impact would in turn trigger demand services such as crisis management, staff reduction, operational optimisation, receivership and liquidation as well as litigation support, Yip explained.

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