Why young accountants don't have good promotion prospects

Hong Kong's IPO frenzy has left behind many young accountants who have mostly ended up with more work but not enough promotion opportunities. Photo: Reuters

I came across some astonishing data during a recent seminar.

It has been reported that more than 60 percent of employees in the accounting sector want to change jobs. Turnover has hit 20 percent.

As far as I know, some second-tier and local accounting firms are struggling to retain entry-level employees.

Many privately owned companies usually hire second-tier accounting firms for their fundraising activities.

In most cases, some of these companies have spotty accounting records and their internal management system is far from satisfactory.

Sorting out their accounting records to comply with global standards is an enormous task.

Many second-tier accounting firms are forced to hire a large number professionals for the job before their clients undergo regulatory vetting.

In fact, a number of these accounting companies have been adding staff in recent years.

However, accountants who are tasked to manage an IPO project are often not experienced enough, which means some external help is needed.

In other cases, a manager might have the necessary expertise and experience but the team is sub par.

The situation is even worse for domestic accounting firms.

Many of them have hired employees with accounting degrees or professional qualification only to face a severe talent shortage.

As a result, some of these firms often revamp these positions.

For example, one firm might merge three or four openings into two. This allows the employer to attract talent with more competitive salaries.

The market needs a vast number of entry-level and mid-tier talent but they are hampered by their inability to offer good promotion opportunities.

Part of the reason is that senior employees have been putting off retirement amid rising living costs. This phenomenon is happening around the world, impeding mobility among young, qualified professionals.

Hong Kong has been overly reliant on financial services, particularly fundraisings and stock market listings, which may not be sustainable in the long term.

In the first half, it was the largest fundraising market in the world.

But the good days won't last forever.

In the meantime, the government has yet to figure out how to curb Hong Kong's excessive dependence on fundraising activities.

WY Jimmy wrote this article, which appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 3.

Translation by Julie Zhu 

[Chinese version中文版 ]

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Young Accountants Association of Hong Kong