Founded in 1963, Hawksford Group is a leading provider of global corporate, trust and fund administration services. They are focused on helping families, entrepreneurs, multinational companies and funds realise potential and maximise opportunities and returns. Based in Jersey, the company had a presence in Hong Kong and Singapore but were looking to expand into China. They knew to be successful, they needed a partner who could help them understand the unique business culture in the country.
Navigating the business environment
“What I find very interesting about China is the scale of things,” says Michel van Leeuwen, Chief Executive of Hawksford. “You have these extremely large cities and every year an extremely large graduate base. Those graduates are going to find jobs and start spending – and as they do, they will drive the global economy.”
That’s one of the reasons the company has always been interested in expanding into China. The key, says Mr van Leeuwen, is to understand that doing business there is unlike anything or anywhere else. The biggest mistake many companies make is in thinking if they are successful somewhere else, they can navigate the business environment in China on their own. “Most find it is not as easy as they thought,” he explains.
If you want to do business in China properly, you need someone to help you see where the pitfalls may be. Partnerships are essential.
Joining a larger network
HSBC have provided corporate banking services to Hawksford directly since 2014 and also support their underlying managed clients in Jersey as part of the HSBC CI&IOM Regulated Corporate Service Provider offering. When the company decided the time was right to expand into China, they turned to the bank in large part because of their network.
The HSBC China Connections meeting was very beneficial, it expanded our view of the business prospects for our clients and us in China.
Held in October of 2017 in Shanghai, the event brought companies from around the world together to explore growth opportunities in the region. HSBC also helped Hawksford with the acquisition of People & Projects Ltd, (P&P) – one of Asia’s leading independent corporate services providers.
Building connections with a trusted partner
With the acquisition of P&P, Hawksford grew its office network significantly to create a truly pan-Asian corporate services platform with 50% of its employees based in Asia. The company today has 440 professionals across 12 locations worldwide, including five offices in China that provide outsourced corporate services ranging from market-entry and setup to payroll and accounting and more. “This allows our clients to focus on their businesses while we take care of the day-to-day administration,” says Mr van Leeuwen. The rich opportunity Hawksford sees for itself and others in China doesn’t stop here, he continues. “We will want to keep on expanding both organically and inorganically. HSBC would be our first port of call because of their strong presence in the region, which helps us build connections. From that point of view, they are our trusted partner.”