The Big Four are looking to add to their staff numbers in China, according to a published report.

All of the accounting firms are planning to add hundreds of new hires in Hong Kong and on the mainland this year -- boosting their ranks by more than 20 percent, the Financial Times reported. The firms all said that staffing shortages are hurting efforts to improve investor confidence in the country's domestic stock market.

Three factors are working together to drive demand for accountants: Many state-owned businesses are planning to list themselves overseas, smaller domestic companies are preparing to adopt new accounting standards, and subsidiaries of foreign companies operating in China continue to grow.

Spokespeople for all of the Big Four firms have said that a company has to be a truly attractive client in order to even consider taking on the additional work. In recent years, the staffing shortages has been exacerbated by the accounting firms competing with each other for graduates, as well as in their attempts to poach workers from other financial service industries who speak Chinese and English, or relocating Chinese-speaking personnel from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

The firm with the largest presence in China, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that it plans to add about 1,500 graduates and another 500 to 700 experienced personnel to its combined Hong Kong and mainland staff of 6,450.

Deloitte also has plans to hire 1,500 new staff by mid-2007, adding to its combined staff of nearly 5,000. KPMG plans to add 1,000 graduates and 300 senior people to its staff of 4,500 this year and Ernst & Young is looking for an additional 800 staffers to boost its mainland ranks of 3,500.

Previously on WebCPA:

Cox Meets with Korean Finance Regulator (May 18, 2006)

E&Y Recalls Report on Chinese Loans (May 16, 2006)

China to Adopt Standards for 2007 (Feb. 16, 2006)

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