Bosses seek overseas talent to tackle shortage of specialist accountants

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2011, 12:00am


Many Hong Kong employers were looking overseas to hire specialist accountants qualified to grapple with the increasing complexities of today's business world, as they could not find enough qualified people locally, a professional body warned yesterday.

Some 30 per cent of the city's accounting employers are looking overseas for talent, according to a survey released yesterday by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and human resources agency Robert Half. The need for specialist accountants was being driven by the complexity of globalised business, and tighter regulatory control in many countries following the 2008 financial crisis, it found.

Association chairman Rosanna Choi (pictured) said: 'Currently, there is a mismatch in the supply of professionals in Hong Kong and the demand, particularly in the fields of compliance, risk management and internal control.'

The survey was conducted in Hong Kong in June, interviewing 645 people, including professionals and managers responsible for hiring.

Local professionals could only benefit from the growing demand for manpower by upgrading their qualifications, one industry executive said. 'The regulatory framework has been evolving since 2008 and professionals need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape. Corporates need people who can deal with multiple jurisdictions, to help them grow,' the Hong Kong-based official of an investment bank, who refused to be named, said.

Robert Half director Pallavi Anand said employers had complained about the difficulty of finding professionals in the finance and banking sector. She cited an earlier survey which found that more than 90 per cent of employers in Hong Kong said they had difficulties in finding skilled professionals. Despite economic uncertainty in Europe and the US, demand for those executives remained robust in Asia, she said.

Denise Lim, managing partner of human resources consultant Experis, said the demand was greater for speakers of Putonghua who could meet the needs of mainland companies.

The June survey found that 67 per cent of finance and accounting professionals hoped to work overseas, but only 8 per cent of employers offer regular overseas secondment. Choi said the gap between the desire to be relocated and the lack of opportunities could affect staff satisfaction and lead to high turnover.