Deloitte dimisses China growth plans

Deloitte dimisses China growth plans

The Chinese government may hope to create its own ‘Big Four’ audit firms, but that doesn’t mean they will succeed, says the global head of Deloitte

Speaking as
Deloitte
announced global revenues soaring by 18.6%, Jim Quigley told Accountancy
Age
that the Chinese ambition to provide competitors to the Big Four would
falter once its companies grew too large.

‘I think each economy has its own sense of national pride, its own sense of
wanting to do things its own way. [But] as Chinese companies diversify sources
of their income they will need professional services firms with strong
international networks. That will be the challenge of developing additional
large Big Four firms in China,’ Quigley said.

The idea of Chinese challengers to western firms has been discussed by
Chinese officials. ‘As Chinese companies list abroad, we also hope the audit
firms can go global too,’ one was quoted saying recently.

The move has even been seen as a radical answer to the audit choice debates
troubling regulators in western economies.

John Connolly, the UK Deloitte chief executive, has suggested that mid-tier
firms could seek tie-ups with emerging Chinese firms. ‘Emerging opportunities
could exist for mid-tier firms to combine with one of the large Chinese firms
where the Big Four do not have a dominant position.’

Quigley admitted that getting into emerging market economies was difficult,
as he unveiled strong earnings growth across the key Asia Pacific region.
Revenue grew by an astonishing 30.3% to $3.2 billion (£1.6bn) there.

Deloitte’s rival PwC have had well-noted problems in Russia over its audit of
Yukos and other issues. Quigley agreed that Russia was a difficult market.

He said: ‘I don’t know that I would use the word risky. You have to be
focused on client acceptance processes, and a real commitment to meeting needs
and requirements in a sensitive way. You can’t go in with a bunch of expats and
believe you are operating in another Western economy.’

Quigley also warned rivals who have consolidated into global firms that they
might lose out if they lost their local depth and knowledge base.

He said: ‘We are moving forward with the strategy we have, we want local
depth and global reach.

‘Without one of those two you are going to underperform. If you are all about
global… you are going to underperform.’

He added that the success of
E
&Y
and KPMG’s
merger moves would be ‘a matter of implementation’.

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