Chinese accountants see rising demand for ‘green’ certification work in wake of food scandals

While auditors traditionally verify financial statement of companies, there is increasing demand for accounting professionals to carry out reviews of Hong Kong and mainland listed companies to ensure compliance with “green” standards stipulated by governments and stock exchange regulators.

Ivan Tong Ka-yan, managing partner of climate change and sustainability services for accounting firm EY, said more and more listed companies want to make sure their policies meet new environmental and social responsibility requirements.

“Previously, listed companies focused only on their bottom line and auditors mainly checked whether the financial statements were fair and accurate. But now, they want the accountant to check whether they have followed all the anti-pollution and social responsibility requirements,” Tong said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

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In 2009 EY established a dedicated team of accountants, now numbering 80, to cover services related to climate change, social responsibility and the issuance of green bonds, which are debt issuances whose funds are exclusively used for environmentally friendly projects.

Tong said the 2008 tainted milk scandal in mainland China forced authorities to start issuing guidelines and regulations requiring companies to adopt social responsibility requirements.

Over the past two years mainland authorities have further stepped up efforts to require companies to follow anti-pollution practises while the stock exchanges of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen all require listed companies to report on their social responsibility efforts. In December 2015 Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, operator of the Hong Kong bourse, introduced a rule requiring all listed companies to report on their social responsibility policies.

They want the accountant to check whether they have followed all the anti-pollution and social…

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