Not enough women reaching top of accountancy sector

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am


There have been more women than men joining the accountancy sector in recent years but statistics show the 'glass ceiling' still prevents many females from reaching senior level.

It is therefore heartening to hear international accounting firm Mazars recently promoted three women - Annie Chan, Alexandra Hui and Catherine Tse - to partners.

But even with these recent promotions, the firm still has more men than women partners: 12 male against 5 female. This means about 29 per cent of partners are female.

The Big Four are in a similar situation. About 30 per cent of the partners at PricewaterhouseCoopers' Hong Kong office are female while at KPMG 34 per cent of partners are women. At Ernest & Young Hong Kong, females represent 29 per cent of all partners while at Deloitte Hong Kong, 28 per cent of partners are women.

Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants figures show that there are more young women accountants than men. Of 4,500 accountants aged 29 or below, 2,693 - or 59 per cent - are women.

Between 30 and 39, there are still more females than males - with a total of 6,164 female accountants compared with 4,377 male.

The gap in gender starts to narrow from age 40 to 44, with 3,364 female accountants compared with 3,121 males.

From age 45 onwards, the tables turn and there are more males than females represented.

For accountants between age 45 and 54, there are 3,625 females, representing only 39 per cent of that age bracket.

Only 14 per cent of accountants over 55 years old are female.

As a result, although there are more women in entry-level positions, overall there are still more males than females in the sector. Of the 33,459 accountants in the city, there are 17,200 males against 16,259 females.

Industry insiders said women had to spend more time with their family and children after marrying while others liked to retire earlier.

It is hoped that the Mazars promotions will start a trend of more women going to the top levels. Ex-banker opens gallery Alice Hui Suk-Fong, who left her career as a top analyst to become an artist, will cut the ribbon on her very own gallery tomorrow. Hui was formerly the head of regional utilities research and executive director at UBS, but she quit finance to become a full-time artist in April 2007.

Her shop, Hui Suk Fong, in Causeway Bay will have an opening ceremony tomorrow. She will give half of the proceeds of the first three paintings sold to charity.

With so many investment banks sacking staff, Hui is likely to have no regrets about her career change.