You don’t count as part of the Big Four unless you are in the core business district, right?
Just take a look at Ernst & Young, the accounting and consulting giant that is set to have a new address in Hong Kong this year.
The company, which ranks No.3 in its industry by revenue, will move out of its current location in Admiralty and establish a base in Quarry Bay.
Thanks to escalating office rents in the Central district, EY joins a growing number of multinational firms that have sought cheaper property alternatives in Hong Kong.
The audit titan, operating presently from Citic Tower in the city’s main financial hub, will move to Swire’s redeveloped One Taikoo Place office tower that will be ready by this autumn.
According to Apple Daily, EY will take up eight floors in the building, occupying 160,000 square feet of space, for about HK$9.6 million per year. The lease cost is based on an estimate of HK$60 per square foot.
That compares with the firm’s current office space of 150,000 square feet in Citic Tower and the annual rent of HK$13.5 million.
In other words, EY will be saving 30 percent with the new facility while getting a bigger office.
Of course, Quarry Bay can’t be seen in the same light as Admiralty, as the former is some distance away from the city center.
Top executives as well as employees living on the other side of Hong Kong Island and elsewhere may find themselves spending more time on commute. However, a new Wanchai highway will mitigate that factor.
All in all, one can understand why EY has opted to move. Apart from cost savings, there are other forces at play that would justify the decision.
For one, the audit business in the city has undergone an evolution in recent years. Gone are the days when accountants needed to station themselves in Central. That is because work practices have changed due to new technologies, and also because top clients are no longer concentrated in the traditional financial hub.
With the expanding scope of business, accountants are running around for audit work for listed companies which are coming mainly from mainland China nowadays, rather than Hong Kong.
Another factor driving the interest in new office locations is the need for more space for employees for activities beside work.
The young workers nowadays would rather have bigger spaces for social gatherings and intra-office leisure activities rather than a room with breathtaking views of the skyline and Victoria Harbour.
It is said that EY decided to look for new office location as early as in 2014 because of the Occupy Central protests that year.
The street blockades by pro-democracy activists, which lasted 79 days, caused disruptions to offices and businesses located near the government headquarters. CITC Tower occupants were among those affected.
With the relocation, EY can avoid such potential disturbances in future.
Now, we can only wait and see if another accounting biggie — PwC — will also look to find a new home away from Central.
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