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Leading up to Cheng & Co’s 25th Anniversary celebrations this year, Connection Online will be featuring a series of articles that shares the thoughts of our core partners on their time with the firm, their personal and professional development throughout their tenure and their hoped for the future.

This series focuses on Audit Partner of Cheng & Co, Mr. Stephen Hong Thuan Boon . When he joined Cheng & Co in 2012, it was a new episode in his career. Prior to this, he was an audit partner at another firm.

He knew Cheng & Co through an event organised by Aljeffri Dean Consortium with which Cheng & Co and his former company are network firms. He was impressed with Cheng & Co’s culture, value and mission and after observing the firm for some time, he was convinced that this is indeed his next career destination.

After joining Cheng & Co he headed the audit division the headquarters which, at the time, specialised in SME audit. He was subsequently offered to be a partner within the next two years.

Stephen shares his thoughts on his time with Cheng & Co and what drives him to keep powering the firm towards achieving its Vision 2020, to become the Firm of the Future – the leading home grown international accounting firm.


What are the key factors that motivate you to further your career and professional growth with Cheng & Co?

Cheng & Co has a clear Vision, Mission, good philosophy and values that drive every partner and staff towards strong commitment to achieve the firm’s goals. Every one here are working together very well with good team spirit and playing their part to support each other.

It is not easy with such a big group of partners. But I noticed that the key here is that everyone is treated with equality, transparency and fairness which is built into the values and system of the firm.


How much have you gained in professional and personal development throughout your tenure in Cheng & Co?

I used to be involved in the auditing of SMEs and did not have the opportunity to extend my professional skills to auditing Public Listed Companies. Around four years after joining Cheng & Co, due to personal reasons, I had to move to Johor Bahru and the management was very supportive of my decision and arranged my transfer to the Johor Bahru branch and I continued to head the audit team there and assist branch operations. With this new development, I had the opportunity to get involved with the audit of three Public Listed Companies. Currently I am the engagement partner of these three companies which really helped enhance my professional skills and knowledge.


What are the areas that you feel Cheng & Co is different from other organisations?

I find that Cheng & Co is unlike a typical local firm with traditional ways of doing things. The firm continues to learn and grow while adopting many good management concepts and tools. Like we have the “Vision Tree” criteria for being a good leader which forms the basis of evaluating a person’s promotion to Manager or team leader. The Vision Tree criteria is 4Ep + 3M = 3P. 4Ep refers to Energy, Energiser, Edge and Execution with Passion. The 3Ms are Mobility, Multi skills and Multi-Tasking. A person with most of these qualities will achieve Prosperity, Prospects and Profit (rewards) which form the 3Ps.

The KPI scheme too is a good practice to reward staff with fairness and transparency.

All these factors are important contributors to the growth and expansion of the firm we are not a “one man show”, with a large workforce and wide spread office locations. If we would have followed the traditional management path, we would not have achieved all this.


What areas do you feel require further improvements?

Cheng & Co has offices and network located all over Malaysia, but more enhancement is needed on the cooperation mechanism between branches and Headquarters to achieve greater levels of efficiency. This can be achieved via specific information technological systems and cloud solutions.


What development plans do you have for your division in the future?

One of the main challenges of public practice is high staff turnover. Many accounting graduates often leave after gaining roughly three years of working experience which is among the basic requirements of becoming a qualified chartered accountant in Malaysia.

We will keep improving our recruitment, retention, training and rewarding mechanism to bring elevate more of our middle level senior staff to cope with our growing pace.

Other than that, automation and artificial intelligence are the areas that we should study and explore to enhance the efficiency of the operations with optimal head counts.



As a partner and director in Cheng & Co Group, what advice do you have for managers, young employees and newcomers to the firm?

The younger generation should not be afraid to take charge and to initiate action. Learning from handling more assignments will sharpen your knowledge, the benefits of which they may not see now but will do so when it generates unexpected rewards in the future.


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