With five days until her report was due, Laurie stared glumly at her monitor. She was gathering financial data from the Shanghai composite, trying to make sense of the reported assets of a large Chinese telecom firm. The opacity of corporate finances in China was a real challenge to investors. How long could companies disguise losing money? For some of them, the answer was quite some time.Fortunately, the major foreign consulting companies were effectively incompetent when it came to this sort of work. They simply couldn't hire capable staff in the field, which is why they farmed out their business to smaller China-based companies like the one which which employed her. Now that she knew the industry, she knew she would never work in a large firm again. The inefficiencies in the system were mind-boggling. All she needed to set out on her own was better reading skills. And she would get there soon.