Adding value to auditing
Working for an international company has many advantages. At RSM Nelson Wheeler - the sixth-largest accounting network worldwide - employees can look forward to secondments in China or the United States. They also receive in-depth training for their career development.
In Hong Kong, fresh graduates who have joined the firm's 350 local staff receive all the training and support they need for a successful start.
'We put a lot of resources into our staff's career development. One of the firm's objectives is to train young accountants and help them develop into all-rounded certified public accountants,' says Chris Wong, a partner responsible for audit and capital markets, as well as staffing matters.
'We fully support our staff to take the professional examinations. Study and examination leaves are available. They are eligible to apply for tuition or examination subsidies for courses which are related to their work,' Wong says.
A fresh graduate first receives a two-day induction about the company and its expectations. Each trainee will have a counsellor or mentor assigned to him. The in-house training is given by partners, principals, senior managers, managers and assistant managers, depending on the topic.
RSM Nelson Wheeler currently audits 50 listed firms and prepares companies for IPO. 'Our audit groups do not specialise in a particular industry or type of assignment,' says Wong. The firm ensures that young members of the team gain experience in dealing with all kinds of assignments.
Sasha Wu Sai-shan, who joined the firm a year ago, says she likes the camaraderie at the company. 'I enjoy discussing questions with my team members and working together to find the best solutions,' Wu says.
Communication has been the biggest challenge for her, she adds. Wu realised that except for the customer's accountants, most of the clients such as marketing officers, shipping clerks and even the directors, had no accounting background. Because of this, she had to explain what she needed very clearly. She also had to learn to ask the right questions to get the information she needed. 'It is important to explain clearly what you want. A good follow-up question also helps me integrate more information and gain a better understanding of the client's business. So, I learned that to ask and to be asked questions is the foundation of doing audit,' she says.
Wu encourages fresh graduates to self-reflect in order to decide if they really want to devote themselves to this field.
'If you believe you are good at communicating and working with a team of people, getting into auditing is a nice choice for your career,' she says. 'Devoting yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning will help you develop in this field.'
Wong reminds applicants that there is no shortcut to success in auditing. Fresh graduates need a strong commitment and focus on gaining experience, he says.
'As the working requirement is tough and demanding, people should plan and strike a balance between work and private life,' Wong advises.