• Use a springboard to expand regionally
For many of the most successful professional services firms, launching a business in one Asian market has served as a springboard to regional expansion.
The firms involved in the research said repeat business and referrals were essential to growing their business: over 80 per cent said operations in one Asian market fuelled further opportunities elsewhere in Asia.
With its world class infrastructure, excellent connectivity and strategic location, Singapore has emerged as a popular gateway. By using Singapore as a ‘hub and spoke’ centre, firms that make the move here are attracting international clients, and gaining additional business when clients require services in other markets, like China, Korea, or elsewhere in ASEAN.
• Make the most of FTAs
Australia’s recently signed free trade agreements, such as the KAFTA (with Korea) and the JAEPA (with Japan), as well as longer standing agreements with Singapore and ASEAN, are creating greater market access for services firms in wide-ranging industries.
Under the trade agreement with Japan, for example, Australian service providers are guaranteed access to Japan’s sizeable and highly-developed market.
Financial services providers can supply a clearly defined list of products to Japan on a “cross-border” basis. And Australian law firms can now establish entities under Japanese law, and benefit from fast-tracked registration processes.
• Fly in fly out is in decline
One important theme to emerge from the report is the decline of fly in, fly out business. With the exception of Indonesia, participants in Korea, Singapore and Japan observed that establishing a permanent presence in market was a more successful business model.
This takes investment, long-term strategy and patience.
It also requires a dedicated commitment to building Asia capabilities – the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to understand Asian clients and customers, build trusted relationships and negotiate to achieve mutual gains.