KPMG raises level one step at a time
A fortnightly column introducing key trainee programmes
Hong Kong provides plenty of opportunities for university graduates who want to develop a career in professional services with a global outlook as all the major international accounting and auditing firms operate sizeable offices in the city. One of them is KPMG.
'The company's training and developmental programmes are designed to take its staff through a progression up to senior management or partnership levels,' said Ian O'Brien, partner in charge, human resources, China and Hong Kong of KPMG Huazhen in Beijing.
Out of 30,000 applications, KPMG recruits more than 2,000 graduates from universities in Greater China a year, including about 300 from Hong Kong. In their first two to three years, staff learn about the operation of several industries by attending industry-focused training courses and working for different dedicated teams.
'When they have more experience, they will start to specialise in a particular industry,' said Mr O'Brien. 'It's important that people get the experience first and then discover where their interest is and what they are good at before they decide what to specialise in.'
Once professionals at KPMG become specialists, they then receive specific training based on the business of their clients. 'If you're a financial sector person, you'll do a lot of banking, insurance and securities training,' Mr O'Brien said.
Apart from the industry-focused training, staff will receive sets of progressive technical and skills training that continues throughout their careers.
As China was integrating rapidly with the world's economy, KPMG's clients expected staff to have a global outlook and global experience, said Mr O'Brien. That was why KPMG's overseas secondment programme was important to the career development of its staff.
'People who go overseas are our best performers and it's part of their career development to hone their technical and interpersonal skills to broaden their minds and be adaptable by working in a different culture,' he said.
KPMG sends up to 100 staff overseas under its secondment programme every year, a third of whom are from Hong Kong.
The accounting firm recruits university graduates of various disciplines. 'For graduates who have not studied in relevant subjects such as accounting, we put them through a 'conversion programme' so that they come up to a good level of accounting expertise and know about business and finance,' he said.
Applicants take a written test, a numerical aptitude and verbal reasoning test, participate in a group exercise, and have interviews with managers. Finalists will be interviewed by a partner.
Nancy Yim Ming-sze, a trainee accountant in the audit department, said KPMG was the best place for her to get training and support for the Certified Public Accountant exams.
'The company gives us study leave and training to prepare us for the exams,' said Ms Yim who joined KPMG after graduating in July. The company's auditing training provides exercises that prepare her to work with clients in a real business environment.
Trainee analyst Chloe Chan Oi-yin, who works in the transaction services division, has been attending courses on financial statement analysis and valuation. '[To be able to provide] advisory services, we need to have specific industry knowledge. We have learnt how to develop financial statement analysis in a genuine business setting. It is very different from what we studied at school before,' said Ms Chan who studied business and finance at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and joined KPMG in September.