Shortage of accountants hinders China

A massive shortage of accountants in China is threatening to act as a brake
on the world’s fastest-growing economy.

The shortage is already limiting the number of large state-owned enterprises
seeking public listings domestically, and some accountants in the region fear
the long-term effects could be more severe if the gap is not closed.

‘The demand for accountants is so high – not just among domestic enterprises,
but many foreign enterprises setting up in China – that there will be a shortage
of accountants for the next 10 years,’ said Beijing-based Ernst & Young
partner Clive Saunderson.

Simon Galpin, associate director general of Invest Hong Kong, said: ‘One of
the constraints on new IPOs listing here – and there is a huge queue of quality
firms that want to list – is that they can’t get the accountants.’

Saunderson added that the shortage of finance professionals would have two
main consequences: hindering improvements in financial reporting and corporate
governance, and reducing the rate of growth in China.

Hong Kong-based PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Duncan Fitzgerald said:
‘There’s more work than the Big Four can handle.’

In the last two years, China has accounted for a quarter of world growth. In
the next decade, it is expected to overtake Germany to become the world’s
third-largest economy after the US and Japan.

China is thought to have about 130,000 qualified accountants, less than half
the estimated 300,000 it needs.

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