Meet Wendy Lu, Leader of Aprio’s Chinese Practice

July 21, 2022

Ready to get to know Aprio’s International Team on a deeper level? Starting today, we will spotlight a new member of our practice in every issue of the International newsletter, so you can get a closer look at our diverse range of expertise, learn more about the businesses we serve, and discover how we help our clients overcome unique challenges on a global scale.

For the first segment of our series, we sat down with Wendy Lu, the leader of Aprio’s Chinese Practice. Scroll down to learn more.

Thanks for joining us, Wendy! How much has Aprio’s Chinese Practice grown in recent years? Are there any notable trends you’re seeing?

Wendy: Thanks for having me! We have been serving Chinese inbound and outbound clients for more than 15 years, starting with our first Chinese client in 2006. The average growth rate of our practice has ranged between 13%─15% year over year, though due to some new additions to our team this year, we expect our growth rate in 2022 to be over 20%. It’s definitely an exciting time for our practice.

In terms of trends, we have noticed that new conflicts or geopolitical issues transpiring between the US and Chinese governments do not hold back inbound investment. In fact, there are usually more privately owned investments coming into the US when the US-Chinese relationship is strained, although these conflicts do affect state-owned companies’ US investments to some extent.

Furthermore, the past two-and-a-half years of the pandemic changed the business landscape tremendously. Travel restrictions, different COVID-related policies and the disruption of supply chains contributed to an increasingly uncertain business environment in China and the US. As a result, many Chinese companies have started looking for a more stable business environment (outside of China) to relocate their resources and expand their production facilities — and the US is definitely one of their preferred countries to make investments.

Our services to Chinese inbound and outbound clients have transformed from simply tax compliance and accounting services to full-circle business advisory services. I have seen more demand for ownership structuring services, international tax services, M&A-related services, tax credits and incentives, ESG services and customized agreed-upon procedure services for publicly traded companies.

On the other hand, we have also noticed that service needs and challenges differ between first- and second-generation Chinese-descendant business owners. Many first-generation owners come to us for help with tax compliance and for a guide to understanding the US tax laws and accounting policies. However, second-generation owners typically want to engage in more business advisory services beyond tax planning, including services that can help them grow their businesses and maintain a strong growth trajectory heading into the future.

What is unique about Aprio’s Chinese Practice?

Wendy: Chinese clients find Aprio unique because we can serve as true business advisors, not just tax compliance specialists or bookkeepers. We have more than 30 motivated, Chinese-speaking professional team members that are spread across various disciplines of the firm, including, but not limited to, audit and accounting, tax, business valuation and tax incentives. Plus, our team members and clients share the same cultural background; this enables us to better understand our clients and allows us to bring many valuable planning ideas to the table.

How big is Aprio’s Chinese Practice?

Wendy: Our Chinese Practice serves approximately 350+ US-Chinese inbound and outbound clients. This year, our goal is to continue expanding Aprio’s services to more US-Chinese cross-border communities in different locations, which would allow more businesses to access our exceptional expertise and benefit from our services.  

What attracts Chinese companies to Aprio?

Wendy: Our team genuinely cares about our clients and has a strong reputation for providing high-quality services. We are the first and largest Chinese practice in the Southeastern US. Chinese companies often come to Aprio for help because we have multiple locations across the US with team members working in all 50 states. Plus, we now have offices on the East and West Coasts.

Our deep technical expertise and our ranking as a top 35 business advisory and accounting firm make us stand out from the crowd. Since we understand the challenges our clients are facing, we know the answers to their questions before they even have to ask. This creates smooth, open and honest communication and allows us to guide the conversation toward successful solutions and results.

What types of clients and industries does the Chinese team serve?

Wendy: Our clients span across a wide range of industries, including technology & blockchain, biomedical, real estate, private equity, transportation, and wholesale, manufacturing and distribution. We also serve high-net-worth individuals and advise businesses of all sizes and structures, including startup companies.