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City bulls turn to the tigers for recruits

Accountants from Hong Kong and Singapore are being tempted to London as investment banks look east to solve skill shortages.

"Banks have incredibly high standards - and those looking to hire the best people can't afford to ignore the pool of overseas finance talent waiting to be tapped into," says Susie Barrett, business director at Hays International. "Most qualified accountants from Hong Kong and Singapore are members of professional bodies with reciprocal arrangements with UK institutes - there's no issue with them joining employers in London."

The proliferation of business opportunities in China and other tiger economies has fuelled expansion of the Asia-Pacific finance sector, particularly in Hong Kong. And major recruitment drives there - by the Big Four and blue chip banks alike - are producing a steady stream of accountants, many of them hungry for international experience once qualified: "ACCA is strong in South East Asia - and it actively pushes a global mobility message to its members," says Barrett. "That means there's a generation of newly qualifieds for whom working overseas is a natural career choice."

Accountancy Age recently reported that KPMG was under investigation in Belfast for paying Indian accountants less than specified on their work permits. But compliance-conscious City employers are not resorting to such tactics: "There are so many unfilled positions that banks will invest in relocating good people," says Steve Forro of Indigo City. "Accountants from Hong Kong and Singapore are available, keen and offer relevant experience and qualifications. Why not pay what it takes?"

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  • Jo
    John Hamilton
    15 March 2007

    Having worked in the Far East I can say that, on average, many of the accountants lack the management skills that their western counterparts have. Also, by comparison they lack the questioning and broader skills.

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