KPMG is looking to undertake a major recruitment drive in China over the next three years as deeper economic and financial-market integration with Hong Kong and Macau fuels demand for accounting and consultancy services.
The Big Four firm will raise its headcount to about 20,000 in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau from current 13,000 over three years, while increasing its offices in 40 locations from 28, Honson To, chairman of KPMG Asia Pacific and China, said in an interview with the Post.
The additional resources would be needed to prepare the group for new opportunities created by China's latest push for the Qianhai economic zone located on the western side of Shenzhen, the richest city in southern Guangdong province. That is in addition to the ongoing transformation of the wider Greater Bay Area comprising Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in the province.
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"The latest opening of Qianhai aims at establishing a high-end services sector," To said. "It is expected that more policies will be announced soon to allow Hong Kong accounting professionals, lawyers as well as the many innovative start-ups to develop their career in the wider Greater Bay Area."
The new blueprint for Qianhai, unveiled on September 6, calls for an eight-fold expansion in the physical area, from about 15 sq km (3,705 acres) to more than 120 sq km. About one-third of the enlarged area will be reserved for Hong Kong investors.
Another accounting firm BDO last week also said it planned to expand in Qianhai, while HSBC this week unveiled a new service called Credit Connect that enables its customers to transfer their preapproved credit limits across Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong as quickly as one business day.
KPMG Asia Pacific and China chairman Honson To. Photo: Jonathan Wong alt=KPMG Asia Pacific and China chairman Honson To. Photo: Jonathan Wong
"The Greater Bay Area's increased economic connectivity has accelerated cross-boundary business activities in the region," said Daniel Chan, head of Greater Bay Area at HSBC.
China on September 10 launched the long-awaited Wealth Management Connect, a scheme that allows Hong Kong and Macau residents to invest in onshore Chinese fund products in the Greater Bay Area. Likewise, residents in the nine GBA cities can invest in Hong Kong fund products offered by local lenders.
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The southbound leg of the Bond Connect, which kicked off on Friday, will enable certain mainland professional investors to start investing in securities sold in Hong Kong's HK$2 trillion (US$256.9 billion) bond market.
Despite recent volatility in the market emanating from tightening regulations, KPMG's To said the two newly announced cross-border trading schemes will spur capital flows between Hong Kong and mainland China and also boost the internationalisation of yuan.
New economy companies have undergone rapid development over the past two decades, and as such it was not surprising for regulations to catch up with the high-growth, previously unregulated sectors, To said. Those measures may have a short-term impact, but they are expected to benefit the sector in the long run, To added.
Qianhai can be expected to also chart a strong growth trajectory under the state-driven promotion.
"Qianhai was built from scratch some 10 years ago and today it has more than 10,000 Hong Kong companies operating there," To said. "With the expansion plan, the number of workers and companies can be expected to grow by the same proportion" underpinning demand for professional services, he added.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.