I join my working company as an Assistant Accounting Manager since 2016, called Hui KXX financial group, is a financial institution, the principal activities are engaged in brokerage business for Dealing in securities, futures contracts and Managing a portfolio of securities or futures contracts for clients on discretionary basis. Before the acquisition, we were typical Hong Kong based company owed by a sole shareholder, was my previous boss, Mr. Tang, with his wife to running the business in a simple organizational structure, around 20 staffs only. Mr. Tang had already run this company over 20 years, regarded as a family business. In daily operation, he operated his business ethically and carefully in order to avoid all the chance for business failure. Our reporting line was so simple, everyone just obligate report to Mr. Tang. He was known to all for his kindness, not for his client, but also for his staffs, treated everyone as his family member. If we face any difficulties or hard feeling both in workplace and in personal, he was so welcome come his office seeking for advice or assistant. Therefore, before the organizational change, I felt in full of happiness, peaceful and job so safe every day. There was full of positive energy that harmonious atmosphere spread all over this family office, it made all colleagues go alone with each other. Also, it made each colleagues more committed from their job duties even increase the loyalty towards our boss.
However, at the beginning of 2018, our Company sudden became from family office to a subsidiary, as a one of their business unit under a Hong Kong listed company (‘Holding company’) in full of Chinese background through acquisition with sales proceed HK$300 million. Later on, holding company launched in bulk of business plan, strategies. For me, feeling depress, perplex and disgusted by new management expressing what my felt during the organizational change.
Our parent’s company is a listed company in Hong Kong, engaged in property investment in Hong Kong, China and London, UK, Distressed Debts Assets management, investment in global stock market, hotels and Mining. The reasons for this acquisition are maintaining financial stability, diversify their business and maximize shareholders wealth.
[bookmark: _Hlk7120079]Two months later after completing the deal, one day there were two guys from new management (Chief financial controller and his assistant under holdings company) suddenly came to our office to announce some directions and new policy without any notice previously, it made my colleagues and I were not so comfort because they were so rude and no interaction with us, they did not have any respect towards us. It might be a cultural difference and I thought that it was a reality about a giant company acquired a small and medium size company to become one of a business unit into their multi diversify business, thus it might not too necessary to respect us or care about what we felt.
From the announcement, we knew that the company will have a big change both in business strategy and organizational structure. First of all, the main objective for this acquisition, is to refurbish our company to become one stop shop financial service platform. The company aimed to use one year for restructuring, spin off insurance company from other business unit into our company, setting up more offshore funds, repackage more Distressed Debts Assets in order to enrich our existing service and financial products.
Second, such restructuring and refurbishment, were developing a large business unit to serve High net worth new customers from mainland through their China connection ‘guanxi’. I can say that such ‘guanxi’ effect bring a lot of problem into our internal issue rather than bring a bright future. In substance Start from 2018 until now, it brings a lot financial distress and destroys the good relationships between each existing colleagues. I will deeply mention in the following part about the during changing process.
The third, we would set up a new marketing team to manage, coordinate sales actives such as roadshow and exhibition to solicit and promote our financial product and servicing, and high net worth client’s meeting. However, the team is controlled by holdings company instead of purely managed by us. To be truth, if sales activates be managed and controlled by other people , there is no hope in the future.
The above actions aim to enjoy a synergy effect by sharing all resources and information within the whole group that allow to increase value of efficient and effective, gaining a shape return and cost saving, at the end to maximize shareholders’ wealth.
During the organization change after the acquisition, it occurred a number of significant issues that make me felt depress, perplex and disgusted by new management expressing what my felt during the organizational change. In addition, many colleagues have left even some of them worked over 15 years in this company due to disappointment of the Company.
One of the main issues was when our company became one of the business unit under listed company, Mr. Tang, our previous boss, changed the position from Executive director to consultant with a salary HK$1 dollar per month, in substance, there was no any power from him, but holdings company would like to keep him in our company avoid any hidden legal liabilities for the acquisition. Thereafter, the holdings company appointed one of our colleagues, a senior trader, over 15 years experiences in our company be promoted as an Executive director, he was familiar with existing operation, but without any high-level management skill, regarded as a salary partner instead of ‘real boss’. I felt so shocked for this decision making from holdings company to promote him to manage our company. As a competent executive director in financial industry, it is necessary to familiar with all financial products, fast react in financial market but also capable to minimize business risk and internal risk with strong communication skills, thus actually is quite taught in the position. From my point of view, he has ability to take up Chief operation officer rather than executive director because everybody know he is lack of communicate skill and none of high-level execution experience in the past. We depressed about we were sure that we lose bargaining power to holding company, and were absolutely think that he will be no longer support us. In substance, the company is controlled by the Chief financial controller and his assistant from holdings company, our Executive director just follow their instruction in every issue. I can say that his weak leadership skill totally destroys the loyalty from the colleagues towards the company and make the company downturn at the end.
Second, over expansion to develop new infrastructure involved injustice made me felt angry due to the culture difference, Chinese high-level management tend to build up infrastructure first, business second without any budget plan or business plan. Every day we heard ‘Don’t worry, in the future, we will have 200 high net worth customer from china every month’. Every time said it by verbal, no one knew that where the customer came from, what was the most suitable financial products they like and any compliance issue. Well! our executive director, kept silent and followed instruction from Chinese high-level management in every meeting. Only six months, over HK$ 20 million develop cost already exhausted for building new trading system, develop trading Apps in order to provide more capacity to maintain new staff for Chinese customers, rent a new office with premium decoration and hired new staffs for building up new marketing team. As I am a professional accountant, I was irritated the cost of $20 million, keeping out of control, without any budgeting report, business plan and no significant profits generation and even more there was no any reaction by our executive director.
Culture Clash was totally cause management problem in this acquisition. Actually, I don’t have any discrimination towards Mainland Chinese people, I only disagree that management skill. There were too conflict between new management and colleagues from acquired company. One of the serious problems was loss of corporate governance in the connection of ‘guanxi’ in Chinese Culture during the changes, it triggered our colleagues, including me felt desperate and frustrated. As I have mentioned before, they intended set up a new marketing team, however, we had a small sales team already. The Chinese high-level management then dismiss the team because they think that was redundant and they were lack of marketing view in china. At that moment, we felt fear because we could not foresee any bright future and there were too many uncertainties, we might lose our job at the end.
When building up new marketing team, Chief financial controller from holdings company appointed their relative as a leader, we found it his salary was double of normal market rate. Thereafter, the team was full of their relatives and their friends, such team start to influenced into daily operation and internal policy even administrative stuffs. We saw many times the marketing leader asked our Executive Director to sign some business contracts, however there was no discussion and quotation before. In extremely case, we heard them ask Executive Director said ‘our boss has already permitted, please sign as soon as possible to respect my boss’, however, our executive director could not resist anything because it implied Chinese high level management, the real boss supported them to do so. Many colleagues try to resist them because such a ‘guanxi’ let them override the management.
At the end of 2018, around two ‘third of original colleagues had left because felt hopeless and loss of internal control in this company. Until now, it is so strange for me when I go office every day. Everyone does not trust each other and keep silent in order to avoid any political for job safety. For me, I totally felt disgusting to new colleagues from what they did and felt frustrated to our management
However, I decide to stay here, because as I am in middle level position, I have an ambition to develop my career goal, at the end to be a Chief Executive officer or financial officer in my life. Also, as a professional accountant, we should be independent to perform our professional duties, try to avoid any conflict of interest and influence by others to affect your professional judgment. I should need to keep learning in every condition. Even I left , I am sure that I will also face those kind of problem thus I should need to overcome all the difficulties and negative emotion appear by myself.?
To provide insights for others organization, if I were the top management, e,g as a Chief financial controller from holding company, the below suggestions may be benefits for the change goes smoothly in acquisition for change.
Firstly, Employee is company core asset, communication is the best. I should try to show more friendly and kindness towards all the colleagues from the acquired company instead of showing as a ‘winner’ position to everyone, because from my point of view, I still concern about the stability and productivity of the company after acquisition in order to minimize the business risk. Furthermore, I will try to make some informal meeting before any official announcement for change e,g afternoon tea or lunch buffet with those colleagues as soon as possible after the acquisition in order to give them more room to understand the reality ‘already be acquired’ and hope they can feel more comfort when I express any idea of company change or future plan during the informal meeting.
In addition, in any time during the change, I should spend more time to interact with those colleagues, try to understand more what difficulties they are facing. Furthermore, I try to propose setting up an intensive scheme like special bonus or right issues to award those colleagues who can stay more than 2 year after the acquisition in order to keep their Loyalty due to maintaining the stability of acquired company is the best.
Second, for the appointment of new executive director to manage the acquire company, I should hire from other financial institution with strong communication and Chinese background, e,g hire from famous firm Huarong International Financial Holdings Limited or China Everbright Securities (HK) Limited etc. The reason for hire externally, is to maintain and show all stakeholders about this position is independent without any bias ( to express no any ‘guanxi’) for execute any company policy during the company change. Also, showing the independence is benefits for the new executive director to cooperate with difference culture colleagues, make it easier to persuade colleagues to accept the new business plan and policy during change.
Thirdly, I should both keep the original sale team but also build up new marketing team during the organization change process, I think there is no harm to keep them, let both teams to use their performance to proof their degree of ability. From my point of view, sometimes make internal competition may increase their motivation, resulting better productivity and performance.
Finally, if there are some organizations that would like to acquire other company for expansion, I am sure that they will face the same problems that already happened in our group. I highly recommend those organizations should form the acquisition committee both sitting with the members (employees of high-level management) of holdings company and the company be acquired for discussion, execution and problem solving for all acquisition issue. The committee should regularly hold the meeting also in before, during and after the changing process. Furthermore, the committee should set the timeline for all execution that benefits for the member to follow, also reference with my suggestion that I have mentioned in the above, those organizations should be perform more smoothly than us in the future.
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