Yuka Shigetomi FCPA (practising)

Yuka Shigetomi FCPA (practising), Partner, Greater China Assurance Leader for Japan Business Services (JBS), Ernst & Young, Hong Kong (EY Hong Kong), serves as a key link between companies in Japan and Hong Kong. She shares how the role of assurance has evolved, and why she calls Hong Kong home

What are the three biggest lessons in your career so far?

Firstly, be unique. As a qualified CPA in Japan as well as in Hong Kong, I have been able to assist both Japanese companies to expand their businesses in Hong Kong and Hong Kong companies to expand their businesses in Japan, which I believe is quite an unusual skill set. Secondly, think in the long term when it comes to your career. As a mother of two children, some work compromises were necessary, and more so when my children were small. I also had to be patient, and to take things one step at a time. I’m glad that everything eventually worked well. Finally, it is the importance of being in the right place at the right time. I was lucky to arrive in Hong Kong in 1998 when the Mainland’s economy was expanding significantly. I was able to expand JBS as Japanese investment in Hong Kong and Mainland China increased in line with the Mainland’s growth.

What do you like most about specializing in assurance?

As an assurance partner, I enjoy being a central point of contact for clients and supporting them multidimensionally by working with other specialists within EY. Japanese companies, in particular, tend to change management every few years because of job rotation, so I enjoy helping them to quickly settle in Hong Kong and supporting them to understand the city’s cultural and business practices. This helps build a strong working relationship.

How have you seen the role of assurance evolve in recent years?

I have seen significant developments in assurance recently. I believe the most significant one is the adoption of data-driven audits, which help to improve the user experience for our clients and colleagues, and enhance the quality of audits. Another development is the demand for assurance engagements on sustainability, and environmental, social and governance reporting in order to add value because it creates trust in the reporting. I feel that there has never been a more exciting time to be an assurance partner.

What made you move to Hong Kong and what made you stay?

After graduating from university, I joined Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC. (EY Japan) to work as an auditor, and was seconded to EY Hong Kong in 1998. I was the first secondee sent by EY Japan to develop the firm’s JBS in Hong Kong and Mainland China. I got married here and have two children. Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its people are flexible in terms of how they respond to business issues, and it is a friendly city for foreigners. One thing many people might take for granted is how easy it is to find domestic helpers to help with housework and raising children – I would have never been able to have this kind of support in Japan, which has allowed me to both develop my career and raise a family.

What is the biggest challenge Japanese companies in Hong Kong are facing currently? 

At the top of the list is the compulsory quarantine requirement. Also, the restrictions on travel to the Mainland make it difficult for Japanese management in Hong Kong to manage subsidiaries in Mainland China, which calls into question the need for offices in Hong Kong. In order to support their communication with Japan headquarters and subsidiaries in Mainland China, I work closely with EY offices in Mainland China and Japan, and hold joint online meetings and seminars with local offices and headquarters to facilitate the sharing of current business issues and opportunities.

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