THE MAINLAND GOVERNMENT, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for growth, looks to be well on its way to achieving its goal of doubling its economy by 2020. As international trade grows and companies flourish, and as Chinese businesses strive to bring their accounting practices up to international standard, the demand for accountancy services has never been higher. This means accounting firms have to be selective about the business they accept, certainly more selective than they would like to be. Their growth has been so badly affected that many firms are talking about it openly. 'Would we be able to grow more if there were more local accountants? The answer is undoubtedly yes,' said Dave McCann, partner, human resources, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Firms are taking the approach of selecting the contracts they feel are most lucrative and those for which they have qualified personnel to handle. When selecting potential clients, PricewaterhouseCoopers was 'very selective' and 'quite challenging', Mr McCann said. Meanwhile, Deloitte China has adopted a strategy of planning growth in line with its recruitment policy. 'We are deliberately planning growth in China to make sure we have people to do the jobs,' said Peter Bowie, chief executive, Deloitte China. Accountancy firms are growing more frustrated in their attempts to expand. Next year, 39 revised corporate accounting standard practices will come into effect on the mainland. These are intended to bring the mainland closer to international practices, but it is difficult to see how these practices can be implemented and monitored when there is insufficient manpower to carry out these tasks. Even as Chinese firms are trying to get involved in the international trading game, western firms are demanding from them more transparency and accountability, something that cannot be delivered without trained accountants.