ACCA Accounting and Business Magazine Features 3E Accounting Founder Lawrence Chai
3E Accounting Founder Lawrence Chai was featured in the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ (ACCA) Accounting and Business (AB) Magazine. Lawrence shared with ACCA 3E Accounting’s bold decision to expand into Hong Kong and the importance of investing in technology and talent to ensure business continuity in the next normal business environment enforced by COVID-19.
Increasing Competitive Advantage With Technology
Technology implementation in 3E Accounting was initially a way to support working mothers within the firm, but it has consequently transformed 3E Accounting’s employees into adept remote workers. Adopting cloud solutions, and virtual communication tools have enabled the firm to liaise with clients and employees in Hong Kong, despite the current global travel restrictions. By integrating technology into our expansion plans, we were able to virtually oversee office renovations, set up IT infrastructure and conduct a virtual opening for our Hong Kong Office, 3E Accounting Limited in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, adopting technology has proven to be a strategic competitive advantage for the firm during these unprecedented times.
Technology adoption that goes hand in hand with enlightened HR policy and good manager-staff communications were critical strategies for 3E Accounting’s expansion plans. Lawrence highlighted that it was crucial to rely on appraisal systems, standardized HR policies and effective two-way communications, to ensure consistent communications with employees in Hong Kong. 3E Accounting’s Singapore Headquarters gathers monthly feedback from our Hong Kong office and provides remote support. Additionally, 3E Accounting has been facilitating E-Town Hall sessions to regularly update employees on internal and external company matters.
3E Accounting’s In-House Technology
Lawrence’s role as a Chief Technology Officer drives 3E Accounting relentless quest to stay ahead of the technology curve. From the start, he believed that investing in technology, procuring the firm’s own servers and customizing our CRM software would reap business-wide benefits for 3E Accounting. These benefits have enabled the firm to scale faster than others, and employees have reported working more efficiently and accurately. Last year, Lawrence formed an in-house Digital R&D team to spearhead development in robotic process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The formation of the Digital R&D team and investment in technology has led to the successful development of a financial reporting software, which can shorten the time taken to prepare financial statements from eight hours to 60 seconds. This technological breakthrough has helped to free up time for accountants to do higher-value work such as business advisory or growing our clients’ businesses.
With a strong belief that adopting technology is the way forward, 3E Accounting will be setting up our own data centre to house all of the firm’s internal software development and help clients to develop their own software. The data centre will be officially opened in 2021, in conjunction with 3E Accounting’s 10th Year Anniversary.
Growing and Retaining Talent Pool
3E Accounting’s other key strategic advantage is people, and the current HR management practices model after Lawrence’s own working experience. After working long hours as an auditor, he realised that it was not sustainable and wanted to start his own practice and promote better work-life balance. As a local home-grown SME, it is difficult for 3E Accounting to compete with bigger firms in terms of salary. Therefore, flexible work arrangements was a key incentive offered to talents who share the same view on work-life harmony. 3E Accounting’s strong emphasis on work-life harmony has attracted many working mothers, and they currently make up 30 to 40% of the firm’s workforce. Lawrence shared that based on his experience, working mothers are highly responsible and loyal workers. He encourages many industry peers to consider the bigger picture and not be afraid of hiring working mothers for fear of losing out on short-term things like maternity leave. Flexible work arrangements and an Employees First culture have led to low employee turnovers, which enabled 3E Accounting’s management to focus more on expanding the business.
Prior to the pandemic, there was little difference between firms who went by the conventional or digital routes. However, COVID-19 has been a game-changer for businesses and it has helped to validate 3E Accounting’s digital transformation efforts. Lawrence hopes that businesses will consider implementing technology because “technology adoption is going to be accelerated post-COVID-19. If you are too slow, you are going to be left behind. You have to act even faster and be more responsive. That is a new reality.”