PricewaterhouseCoopers may be pinching staff in some places, but the big auditing firm is preparing a major push in China.
The Big Four firm will add 2,000 new accounting graduates to its China staff in 2009, an increase of 200 from the year just past. PwC also plans to open new offices in China, Frank Lyn, the Beijing-based China Markets Leader of PwC, told Reuters.
“The current economic crisis is something that everyone is very, very concerned about,” Lyn said. “But if you take a longer-term view and the fact that we’re here to stay, we are not just hiring for now but ready to train our people for the next five to 10 years.”
A year ago, PwC hired 1,800 accounting graduates for its China offices and 800 experienced executives. The firm currently has 11,000 employees in 13 offices based in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
PwC’s focus on Asia is not surprising considering the rewards it has seen there recently. In October the firm said that its annual revenues in Asia — using a constant exchange rate — grew by 21 percent, the highest of anywhere in the world. The company revealed that total gross revenues for its worldwide network of firms rose to a record $28.2 billion for the fiscal year, an increase of 8 percent at constant exchange rates.
“We still believe we have to go out there and do the outbound investment for a variety of reasons — buying technology, expertise, market share, and so on,” Lyn said. “You’ll see in six to nine months, the activities will pick up and that’s my personal view purely from the value perspective.”
The financial crisis hasn’t spared auditing firms so far. Last February PwC slashed 25 percent of its consulting staff. In September Deloitte cut 2 percent, or 900 of its 45,000 employees in the U.S.
KPMG, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young did not respond to a CFO.com query about whether it would be similarly staffing up in Asia.