Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, one of the big four accounting firms, expects to more than double its staff in the greater China region to 20,000 by 2015, its chief executive said.
William Parrett told Reuters in an interview that the firm's China business plan would focus on winning audits of middle-sized and state firms, as well as expanding its tax advisory and consulting business.
"We'll have 20,000 people in the China region by the year 2015. Not only would I bet on it, we are betting on that -- we're investing a lot of money to accomplish that," Parrett said.
Parrett said Deloitte currently had about 8,500 people in what it defines as its China region -- the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The jump would make it second in size only to the group's U.S. firm, he said.
Parrett reaffirmed an estimate made previously by other Deloitte executives that the firm's China business would eventually surpass that in the United States in scale.
"It's a little hard to figure out how far beyond 2015 that is going to happen, but it's going to happen as long as the Chinese economy continues to develop, which I'm sure and expect it will," he said on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia held on the southern Chinese island of Hainan over the weekend.
Revenues from Deloitte's mainland business were rising at more than 40% a year, Parrett said, which is far faster than the global average.
He said global revenues for the group as a whole would increase 15% to around $23 billion for the fiscal year ending at the start of June.
Globally, all of the group's four key business areas would experience double-digit revenue growth for the year, Parrett said, but growth would be fastest in its consulting business.
"We're probably going to close the year with about 20% growth in the consulting group," he said, adding that much of that activity was coming from post-merger implementation work.
Such business was most robust in the United States and Europe, but it was also picking up in Asia, Parrett said. "Asia is very, very strong compared to four years ago, but it's embryonic
compared to where it's going to be four years from now," he said of consulting related to mergers and acquisitions.
On China, Parrett said it had dramatically reduced its employee turnover rate over the past five years -- from about twice the global average to just over that average.
Still, one staffing challenge was that with much of the educated workforce being so young, there was a relative lack of industry expertise, he said.
On the firm as a whole, Parrett said this would mark the fifth straight year of double-digit growth for the firm, setting it on the path to overtake rival PriceWaterhouseCoopers by the end of 2008 in terms of revenue.
"We think by the year 2010 we should be able to be at $30 billion globally," Parrett said.