Employers fear mass exodus of bean counters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 May, 2010, 12:00am

What a difference 12 months makes in the world of the city's bean counters and other white-collar professionals. A year ago, people were doing their best to ensure they were not on their company's layoff list. This year they are busy trying to change jobs in order to obtain a higher salary and better career development.

A survey by head-hunting firm Robert Half shows 90 per cent of employers are concerned about a mass exodus of finance and accounting staff in light of the improving economy.

Seven in 10 Hong Kong accounting and other professionals believe they will receive a better salary working at a different company, the survey shows.

In addition, almost 60 per cent of respondents believe changing jobs is an opportunity for them to advance their career.

Higher pay and better benefits are not the only reasons motivating staff to leave for greener pastures.

According to the survey, 42 per cent of employees looking for a new job feel that there are no opportunities for career progression at their existing firm.

The survey, conducted in January and February in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, showed that bosses in Hong Kong were more concerned than other cities in the Asia-Pacific region about losing staff.

Many bean counters share the same view. With the economy on the road to recovery this year, many banks are hiring people again, and many accounting firms are in expansion mode to prepare to audit new listings and conduct due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.

For the Big Four, the target for the intake of fresh graduates has been set at about 1,500 to 2,000 this year, similar to pre-crisis levels and up from about 1,000 last year. Last year many firms asked staff to accept unpaid leave or partly paid leave, to cut costs. One veteran accountant told White Collar that the Big Four have to hire more this year because the economic recovery meant increasing demand for auditors.

In addition, the economic recovery has prompted more people to shift jobs. On average, the turnover rate of each firm is about 30 per cent.

Bring old stuff to Pawn for charity

The Pawn, the popular Wan Chai eatery, is trying to help charity with sales of its signature fish-and-chips dish. The restaurant will donate 20 per cent of the sales of fish and chips, from now until June 30, to the non-profit organisation Crossroads Foundation. That is equal to a donation of HK$36 per dish.

Customers can also consider donating their old computers, laptops, printers, sewing machines, DVD players, or blankets and heaters to the foundation.

They can bring the items to the Pawn between 2pm and 5 pm from now until June 30 and they will then be passed on to Crossroads.

Crossroads distributes about 50 per cent of its goods within Hong Kong to Social Welfare Department-sponsored cases, as well as local non-government organisations like St James' Settlement, Ronald McDonald House and Operation Smile.