The CLSF Story
The Chio Lim Stone Forest story is one that spans over 20 years. Here are some snippets.....
Mr Chio Kian Huat (or Chio as he is fondly addressed) perhaps best epitomises the accountapreneur. An true-blue accountant with numbers in his blood, he is also amongst the rare breed of accountants with an unsatiable creative energy and flair.
Coupled with the 'fire in the belly' of wanting to be his own boss, he founded the practice at the Textile Centre in the economic doldrums of the mid 1980s before he turned 30. 2 decades later and under his vision and leadership, the firm is today the largest outside the Big 4 in Singapore, overtaking some longer established accounting firms in market standing.
While he has been aggressive, ambitious and relentless in growing the firm, he shies away from publicity, often preferring to work behind the scenes, sending his fellow partners instead to grace important public occasions or speaking engagements.
A desk for each
Chio started his career like most accounting students - a job with the Big 6 (now Big 4) during his time. He did well enough to get into coveted Arthur Young, and like all fresh graduates, he had to fight for table space in the office every morning. It was no wonder when he set up his own practice, he promised he wanted a desk for each of his staff.
To him, it's basic dignity and respect for the individual
Chio often joked with his staff he could write a 'book on women' and how to manage women employees. More than 1000 employees have walked through the doors of the firm, 70% of whom are women. He has literally dealt with the tears and fears of the womenfolk.
It is a boon indeed to women employees in the firm that he is also happily married with a daughter, for he appreciates the demands on working women, and some HR policies of the firm have been tweaked to be more family-friendly and allow for better work-life balance for working mothers.
The Lim in the name
Lim Lee Meng, the co-founder, joined Chio in 1988. He is also the Chinese guru in the firm, having been brought up in traditional Chinese schools since young. Unfortunately, China was still closed to the world during his time, and Chinese schools were eventually phased out. English was the way to go.
With the resolve and guts of a Chinese youth, he was determined to overcome his English handicap. He picked up the language during his national service days, before he joined the accountancy faculty of then Nanyang University upon his ROD. Despite lessons being conducted in English, he aced his cohort to be a top student winning the gold medal. Till today, staff who are taking examinations often go to him for tips on examination techniques.