COCA-COLA, Goldman Sachs, SBC Communications American Express, Hewlett-Packard, UBS, Sun and McGraw-Hill are all big names with which many a business professional would want to work. And so, how about working for all of them at the same time? That is what Jim Turley does - as global chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young. At 47, he is a senior adviser to these Ernst & Young clients, many of them in operation long before he was born. Last week, Mr Turley was in Hong Kong to host a two-day board meeting of Ernst & Young, whose 80,000 employees operate in more than 120 countries. In an interview, he said the accounting firm chose to meet in Hong Kong because China was an important market. 'Ernst & Young has a very aggressive expansion plan in China. We believe the real growth opportunities of the global economy are in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly China and Hong Kong. 'We are going to open more offices, put in more resources and hire more staff in China.' The company has five mainland offices - in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu 'Since China's entry to the World Trade Organisation, a lot of foreign firms have wanted to invest in China,' he said. 'There are also many Chinese companies wanting to go overseas to raise capital to meet their financial needs.' With many multinational companies pursuing business on the mainland, it is easy to understand Ernst & Young's interest in China. As well as serving its global clients in China, the international accounting firm is keen to win new mainland business. 'We want to focus on providing services in audit, tax compliance and consulting, corporate finance as well as due diligence for mergers and acquisitions,' he said. To show its commitment to China, the company recently moved its Hong Kong tax head Stephen Lau Shing-hung to Beijing, and his deputy, Alfred Shum to Shanghai. Mr Turley believes Ernst & Young in China will eventually match its United States operation in size. In the process, it aims to become the largest accounting firm on the mainland. By recruitment and possible mergers, he said the firm planned to double staff at its Hong Kong and China offices to more than 6,000 in the next few years. This would make it bigger than its major rival, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which, after merging with Arthur Andersen's Hong Kong and China practices in July, hopped over Ernst & Young to become the mainland's largest accounting firm. Mr Turley said it was a shame that the company had lost that battle, but it would be looking for other acquisition opportunities. It had already combined with the mainland's largest domestic accounting firm, Da Hua. Last year, Arthur Andersen was forced out of business after the collapse of its auditing client, Enron, whose books had been 'cooked' to hide its huge debts. That accounting scandal shocked the investment world and led to accountancy reforms. It also provided great expansion opportunities for Andersen's rivals - with the remaining Big Four firms, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, competing for Andersen's staff and clients around the world. Mr Turley said although Ernst & Young lost out in Hong Kong and China, it was the biggest winner as it picked up more than 400 Andersen clients and took on 27,000 staff in 58 countries, including France and Switzerland. Many international clients - such as Marriott, Oracle and Federal Express - which were formerly with Andersen, switched to Ernst & Young. On the mainland, it took on big names such as China National Offshore Oil Corp and Baoshan Iron and Steel. After merging with some of Andersen's operations, Ernst & Young remains the second-largest accounting firm worldwide with an annual income of about US$12.5 billion and is closing the gap on leader PwC's US$14 billion. Mr Turley said Ernst & Young had reviewed and tightened its internal corporate governance to ensure the company did not repeat mistakes made by Andersen. The key to avoiding scandal, he said, was to say 'no' to clients when they asked their accountants to carry out unacceptable practices. 'We make sure all our staff understand the need to reject such requests, no matter how big the client.' 'We also say 'no' to clients if their tax practices are breaching the law,' Mr Turley said. He pointed out there had also been changes. 'The US and many other markets have introduced accounting reforms. This will gradually restore investor confidence.' Mr Turley said the accounting scandals had not hurt his love for an industry he joined 27 years ago. Born into a Minnesota family, Mr Turley said his father was in the real estate business and wanted his son to work in the financial sector - and he chose accountancy. After graduating with a BA and a Masters in Accounting from Rice University in Houston, Texas, Mr Turley joined a local office of an accounting firm which later went on to merge with another company to become Ernst & Young. He started work as a member of its audit staff in 1977. In 1987 he became a partner, and in 2000 he was made deputy chairman of the global accounting firm. Mr Turley was promoted to global chairman in July 2001, and last July was appointed global chairman and chief executive. He considers that his major achievement with the firm has been to focus on its core business, which helps to ensure quality of service. 'Audit and tax, mergers and acquisitions advisory services, and corporate finance are what Ernst & Young focuses on. 'We have to focus on these areas and to develop our people to provide high-quality services to our clients.' As a result of this philosophy, Ernst & Young got out of the financial consulting business in 1999, a move many other accounting firms followed. As head of a global firm, Mr Turley spends most of his time travelling the world. 'I can travel round the world in 80 hours,' he said. Before arriving in Hong Kong, he had attended a meeting in California and a function in New York. He started his Asia tour in Tokyo and travelled to South Korea and then the SAR. But the tight schedule meant he had to cancel a trip to India. Mr Turley has no complaints about his busy life. He ranks Shanghai, the mainland financial centre, as his favourite city though he said politically he should say Hong Kong. 'Shanghai is a very active city which has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. 'I also love Moscow because of its beautiful architecture.' His wife, however, thinks London is the best place to live. Away from business, he relaxes with tennis and golf. His other way of relaxing is to pass household accountant duties to his wife. 'My wife is the accountant at home and she is doing a great job. I am the one responsible for depositing money in the banks and my wife is the one responsible for withdrawals.' The Turleys' 17-year-old son is in his first year at university. In the US, students select their major subject during their second year. 'I will be delighted if my son chooses accountancy. I believe it is a great industry as it is playing an important role in the capital market,' he said. Biography Jim Turley , 47, is global chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young. In 1977, he graduated from Rice University, in Houston, with a master degree in accounting and joined Ernst & Young's audit staff. He became a partner in 1987 and global chairman and chief executive in July last year. He is married and has a 17-year-old son. He is based in New York and London, from where he oversees the company's global services to big names such as Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, Sun, UBS and Hewlett-Packard.