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Deloitte sees key role for its China operations

By Chai Hua in Shenzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-16 09:37
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Major global audit and advisory firm Deloitte is expecting China to become one of its strongest markets in terms of business growth across its global network over the next five years, with a focus on technological opportunities, according to its global chief executive.

"Besides strengthening core capabilities from an advisor's standpoint, Deloitte is also focusing on and making big investments in orchestrating the ecosystems around artificial intelligence, big data, smart cities and other high-tech areas," Punit Renjen, the first Asian global CEO of Deloitte, told China Daily during an interview in Shenzhen on Wednesday.

Deloitte entered the Chinese market in 1917 and has around 16,000 employees throughout the country today, delivering a full range of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory and tax services.

Deloitte has helped more than half of the Fortune Global 500 companies entering the Chinese market, but has now found "a big growth opportunity" in helping Chinese companies become global leaders.

"What I have seen in the last five years is really a changing mindset among both private and State-owned Chinese companies. It is increasingly about making Chinese companies true leaders in the world," he said.

He said that some Chinese executives recently asked him about how their companies could increase their representation among the world's leading products.

Another trend Renjen has noticed is how rapidly China is becoming a technology hub, evolving from its role as a manufacturing powerhouse, a transition which he believes will deliver outstanding opportunities.

For example, China is the undoubted leader in artificial intelligence capability, but its data is insufficiently organized to support machine learning, a gap that presents an opportunity, he explained.

"Full solutions" are becoming more prevalent, he stressed, citing the example of applying big data, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles to create the future of mobility.

He admitted it is hard to predict how soon these technologies can attain life-changing influence. But there is already a business need for them that did not exist years ago, whereas "now we can certainly espouse its business and financial rationale", he said.

Driven by these new trends, Patrick Tsang, Deloitte's China CEO, expects its advisory services in the next five years to grow to more than half of the total revenue, particularly through digital solutions.

The firm last year set up the Blockchain Lab in Hong Kong, and is planning a high-tech center in Shenzhen as part of its "Digital Difference" project in China.

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