Hong Kong's prosperity is bringing them home

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2007, 12:00am

HONG KONG CITIZENS working overseas as accountancy and finance professionals have

been cited as a core group interested in returning home to further their careers and capitalise on the strength of the economy.

Emma Charnock, regional director for Asia of Hays, a specialist recruitment firm, said overseas-based candidates had begun to realise that they could continue their careers with solid national and international organisations operating in Hong Kong.

She said it was difficult to quantify the number of Hong Kong nationals who had come back to work in recent years, but for every accountancy and finance career opportunity advertised by Hays, up to three applications were from Hong Kong nationals working overseas.

Adding further testament to this trend, Ms Charnock said Hays received more than 10 calls every day from professionals living in different countries who were interested pursuing opportunities back home in Hong Kong.

Prospective candidates were mainly from Australia, Canada and the United States. They generally had solid experience and were hoping to develop Hong Kong-based careers, particularly in advisory

services, audit and assurance, business recovery services, corporate finance, global risk management solutions and tax services.

COREsearch managing director Alison Chang Wai-man said her recruitment agency had also noticed more Hong Kong nationals wanting to return, but she believed this was not purely the result of the new, improved opportunities available back home.

'When it comes to the living environment there is simply no place like Hong Kong,' Ms Chang said.

'People are returning for the free and open lifestyle and also for the quality [of education for their children]. They also come because of the weather ... it is so cold in the United States [in winter].'

A spokesman from the Hong Kong Immigration Department could not provide figures on the number of Hong Kong nationals leaving or returning home.

The last 'Returnees to Hong Kong' survey, conducted by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department in 1999, revealed that 118,400 nationals returned that year. However, it was generally believed that this involved considerable under-reporting.

A department spokesman said there were no plans to conduct a similar survey in the near future.

Ms Charnock said Hong Kong-based businesses were taking advantage of returning nationals.

'Employers value returning nationals because they bring international exposure to the business. Their western experience, coupled with knowledge of the Chinese culture, work ethic and language skills, are highly valued.

'These candidates are also able to communicate with all levels of clients, which is a skill foreign expatriates are frequently short of.'

Ms Chang said although employers generally liked the sound of an individual having worked overseas, this alone was not enough.

She said a prospective employee needed to demonstrate how this experience could add value to a company.

Applicants may have worked overseas, but they had to prove it by applying their skills in the Hong Kong workplace.