Business / Industries

Training body chief: Accountants in hot demand

By Huang Ying (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-06 09:38

Qualified accountants with wider business skills have become the most sought-after group of professionals in the Chinese executive-jobs market, according to the head of one of the world's top accountancy training bodies.

Stephen Heathcote, executive director of markets at the London-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, said there is a massive demand for talented number-crunchers in the country, for roles in government and regulatory organizations, as well as in private companies.

But on top of the basic skills of managing a balance sheet or handling an audit, those with other complementary experience are in hottest demand, he said.

State-owned enterprises, for instance, are more complex and demanding businesses than before, he said.

They urgently need accountants who can understand management accounting or how cost drives value, or those who know how to make investments in response to markets around the world, and those who can create dramatic efficiencies.

The demands being made on their accountants by small and medium-sized firms are also becoming greater, particularly in the current economic climate as businesses face up to expansions, or drastic cutbacks, or changes to their existing business plans.

Heathcote said the core skills required of the SME-accountant also include the capacity to access the markets for investment or funding-processes that demand skills at gaining the confidence of investors, often above all else.

A professional accountant himself, Heathcote said that in recent years more and more Chinese students are preferring to return home after they graduate from foreign universities.

The opportunities in China are greater than ever, but so too is the competition for the best jobs, and the best talent.

ACCA offers a variety of professional qualifications. As well as its core accounting skills, it also offers a Global MBA, and separate courses including international financial reporting, auditing and public sector accounting.

According to a report, Chinese Studying Abroad, released last month by the think-tank, the Center for China and Globalization, last year 364,800 Chinese students returned home from overseas to work, a rise of 11,300 on 2013. It expects the number this year to exceed 500,000.

The latest statistics from a survey of leading recruitment firms conducted in July-August by the Center for China and Globalization, meanwhile, revealed that 35.2 percent of returning Chinese students were business graduates, 20.8 percent were coming back with social sciences qualifications, followed closely by engineering and law.

Heathcote said: "That's a positive trend, both for Chinese students and international universities.

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