Dec 9, 2010

Big Four auditors: Banks in China want you

Like their counterparts in other countries, some auditors in China think banking is a more glamorous, better paid sector....

So they apply to join banks after working at the Big Four accountancy firms for a few years. For their part, banks generally view candidates from KMPG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte as being highly skilled, thanks to the on-the-job training they've received. But while foreign and Chinese banks are trying to poach their staff, the Big Four is fighting back on the salary front.

So at what stage of their careers do Big Four employees usually move into the banking sector? That varies, but it’s usually best to have more than three years’ audit experience, says Nicole Yan, accounting and finance branch manager, Manpower Shanghai.

One Big Four employee, who asked not to be named, adds that if people still haven’t a secured a management position after three to five years, it is normal for them to start looking elsewhere.

And what type of roles do they secure? “In the banking, securities and funds sectors, they mainly go into internal audit, risk, control and compliance. In private equity and investment banking, they can do pre-IPO or investment-related jobs,” says Yan.

“Management accountants in particular are expert in performance and risk management roles in banking,” adds CIMA China country director Vicky Li. “Their skills in providing high quality business information are also valued by banks.”

Yan says the key advantages for people who join banks are job stability, wider exposure to banking operations, career development, the opportunity to rotate roles, and more responsibility.

The money, however, is not necessarily better at the banks. “In September this year, the Big Four increased its salary average by 40 to 50 per cent, mainly for junior to middle-level jobs because most of these salaries had not increased during economic crisis,” adds Yap.