Professional Entrepreneurs’ Dream – Part 2

How did you eventually rise from an employee to a partner? – Jess Liew, Cheng & Co Perth, Australia

When Mr Chew offered to sell 50% of the firm’s shares to me – with the other 50% to Paul – it presented a huge opportunity for me to realise my ambition but at the same time, it also provided a massive challenge; the funds to buy the 50%. The amount required was beyond me at that time.

Thankfully I was given instalment facilities by Mr Chew, and my father came forward to help provide some funds to pay up a portion of the fee as down payment for the 50%, so me and Paul signed the contract on 28 October 1992. Paul obtained his practising license in 1993 and this was how Cheng & Co was born.

In 1994, I obtained my practising license and Paul offered to change the firm’s name to Cheng & Chua. But I felt it was not necessary as my dream was to expand into a larger firm and the name Cheng & Co was suitable to achieve this objective.

When Cheng & Co began, the turnover of the firm was RM150,000 with 3 staff, and I really didn’t have any strategy, vision or mission except my dream of achieving a turnover of RM10 million in 10 years’ time, while growing into 10 partners with 10 branches during this period.

But I was well aware that, to be a successful business, Cheng & Co needed a corporate philosophy with a set of beliefs and principles geared towards driving the firm’s growth, development and profitability.

Hence, we developed our 4Ep + 4M = 3P formula, encompassing our Visionary Tree which is fundamental towards bringing in the right people into our firm. The 4Ep consists a set of essential qualities our people, especially managers, need to have to be a part of Cheng & Co:

  • Energy – a person with positive energy and outlook towards work
  • Energiser – a person who motivates others to achieve the firm’s common objectives
  • Edge – skillset of a person in a specialised area
  • Execute – the ability to professionally deal with clients, staff, peers and subordinates.
  • passion – a person who loves his job, strives to do the best for the firm and, in the process, inspires those around him / her

The 4M is important for our people to accomplish their tasks and responsibilities to the firm’s expectations, and it comprises the following qualities:

  • Multi-Cultural
  • Multi-Skilled
  • Multi-Competencies
  • Mobility

To complete our Visionary Tree, the 4Ep and 4M are combined to generate the 3Ps, which benefits not just our clients, but also our people:

  • Productivity
  • Profit
  • Prospect

Subsequently, to progressively expand Cheng & Co towards providing world-class accounting services and achieve local and international recognition, it was imperative for us to ensure the firm has the right partners on board or elevated the right candidate to become a partner. To this end, we devised the 4C criteria to complement the Visionary Tree:

  • Character – partners who forge a strong working relationship and are willing to iron out their differences to move forward towards achieving our common objectives
  • Contribution – the volume of business that they can generate and the profit they can contribute and, the special skills, knowledge and attributes that they bring to the firm.
  • Competency – specialists in key areas and not just limited to accounting, audit or tax. It could be other essentials skills like human resources or marketing
  • Commitment – partners with total focus on the firm’s performance and are committed to the Cheng & Co cause.

I am extremely proud to say that when Cheng & Co started 23 years ago, we only had three staff. Today, we have more than 300 staff in our offices nationwide and international branches, thanks to the right corporate philosophy that resulted in recruiting and developing high-quality professionals.

Our vision for the year 2020 is to become “THE FIRM OF THE FUTURE’ and establish ourselves as the leading home-grown international accounting firm. To achieve this, I have strongly and continuously emphasised the need for our people to get on board with our mission, philosophy and core values in order to stay engaged and motivated to accomplish our goals.

  • Mission – One-stop professional centre with innovative solutions for excellence.
  • Philosophy – Adopting a total professional business services approach to fulfil the needs of our clients. At all times, we endeavour to provide a complete range of professional services critical to our clients’ success within a complex and changing work environment.
  • Core Values


Mutual Responsibility & Care

  1. Deliver with Professionalism
  2. Develop Work-life Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
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