The major assets of accountancy firms are its people, according to Derek Lai Kar-yan, national operation officer of financial advisory services for Deloitte China. That is why the firm makes its recruitment programme a priority and is always ready to hire individuals who have obvious potential or a track record that demonstrates proven ability. 'No matter whether the economy is good or bad we take every opportunity to look for talented people,' Mr Lai said. 'But we expect them to have multiple competencies and a commitment to work in this industry.' He said the competencies that recruits needed were to know what they were shooting for in life and in their career, and being clear what an employer would expect of them. They also had to possess a balanced skill set, which encompassed language proficiency, analytical and problem-solving abilities, and a willingness to accept 'ownership' of any role or assigned task. 'We need people who exercise due care in carrying out their work,' he said. 'In experienced hires we look for integrity and professionalism and want to see how adaptable they are in different working environments.' This was important because reflecting the economic environment the firm expected more demand for its financial advisory, reorganisation and forensic services, and would need people to specialise in these disciplines. Mr Lai said the firm considered accounting and non-accounting majors and would offer all the necessary training. He noted that there had been about 300 new staff in Hong Kong in 2007, and that trend was set to continue through last year and this. The CPA Australia career day had always been a successful starting point. 'There was a huge turnout last year. We are happy with the response and the support we get.'