Success in Asia is not a given; many organisations have boldly stepped into the region and failed to gain the traction they were looking for. Hawksford CEO, Michel van Leeuwen shares his insights for expanding and succeeding in Asia.
Key considerations for expanding into Asia
Know what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. Hawksford has helped many corporations and individuals expand into Asia, so when Hawksford itself wanted to expand its footprint, it was a matter of following our own advice. Key considerations are, “know your market and be able to service your clients where they need you”, “understand your barriers to success and who can help you overcome them”, and “align yourself with partners that can help you achieve what you need, quickly, efficiently and within your budget”.
Where to start?
Asia is a big place and knowing where to start can make a big difference.
The Asian market is a veritable treasure-trove of opportunity across the region. With that in mind, your decision criteria are market size, the legislative/regulatory environment and the connections you have or can develop quickly. Some Asian countries offer a softer, smoother entry into Asia.
Singapore for example is known as a strong and reliable stepping stone, whereas China can be both incredibly prosperous and risky if you don’t get it right on the first pass. My advice would be to work with advisors that have global experience and local presence, to help you understand the local pitfalls of each location, while being global allows them to connect the requirements of your chosen location in Asia to your existing framework. It will help you determine quickly why China may or may not be the right starting point for you.
What are the observed pitfalls for individuals and organisations expanding into Asia?
One common myth about Asia is that it is a uniform and homogeneous market. You will quickly realise that each Asian country is very different from a political, social, and economic point of view. Within large countries such as China and India, you can observe enormous disparity in economic growth on a regional basis versus the national average. There are also notable variations among countries in terms of population, average income levels, consumer spending habits, education levels, literacy rates, and lifestyles.
The first step to any market entry strategy is to identify the individual sub-markets, to know where your target customers are and, which cities to focus on. This will help you select your optimal base of operations.
What’s next for Hawksford?
We want to ensure that we have a local presence in jurisdictions where our clients need us. We are in a strong position as leading experts across Europe and Asia and we plan to continue growing our footprint. With Asia in mind it is an exciting time for any growth oriented organisation. Our presence in Asia, supporting those looking to expand, will continue to be a priority for us as a business.
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