Citywealth Asia Business Discussion forum: How to better do business with Asia/Asian clients

Date: 24 Jan 2013


Chaired by Yogi Dewan, CEO, Hassium Asset Management and Family Office who is ex-Goldman Sachs, the panel included a mix of media, consultants, intermediaries and uhnw entrepreneurs. These included,included Vijay Patel of Waymade Healthcare, a global entrepreneur and founder of Devdaya Charitable Trust which seeks to prevent childhood blindness in India – Patel has just built a hospital in India; Sabila Din, Principle, Din Consultants, who has worked in Hong Kong and on strategies for many private banks hoping to break into the Asian markets; Saleem Sheikh, Senior Partner, GSC Solicitors, who works with many high-profile Indian families; Paul Robinson, President of International for A Squared Elxsi and Principal of PR Media Consulting, a former head of strategy at BBC who launched programming across the world; and, finally, Sanjiv Shah of Sun Global Investments, who has substantial experience with the Asian markets.

An introduction
Karen Jones, Editor, Citywealth, introduced the event saying, “Citywealth launched an UHNW Asian initiative in London two years ago called the Shanghai Delhi club to cultivate wealthy Asians in London and with that has developed a longstanding interest in connecting the UK wealth management market with Asia. Since then, the media, wealth managers and private client intermediaries have spent considerable marketing dollars and time opening in Asia and travelling to China, Singapore and India to name just a few destinations to build Asian business and to capitalise on the growth in the region. What has come out of that investment for many cannot be called an immediate success. It is a business path embedded with cultural difficulties, disagreements, fee hell and some sheer travel exhaustion. With today’s forum and our panelists, we sought an inside track on how better to do business with Asia and some straight talking on the reality of doing business in the region.

An opportunity
The panel debated the questions put by Dewan who opened the forum, saying, “Asia represents a major opportunity. Seventy percent of growth last year came from Asia and when you add up all the Asian regions, you get to an economy bigger than Europe and it is about the same size as the USA.‚Äù
Attendees asked questions such as, “Do Asians actually want to do business with western private banks?‚Äù Vijay Patel answered, resoundingly, “Yes. Most will want a portion of their money outside of Asia and they historically trust Switzerland and the UK and will seek those as first port of call as well as new jurisdictions like Mauritius.‚Äù
Sabila Din added, “Many try to spread themselves too thin in Asia and it is important to pick a few places to develop and stick to them with a long-term strategy.‚Äù Singapore was an obvious choice although some in the panel felt Singapore may now be maturing as western jurisdictions have done and therefore would be less useful going forward with increased competition. Din said, “You cannot ignore countries around Singapore like Indonesia and Malaysia, which will continue to be high growth areas to develop.‚Äù Also, she added something which Dewan thought was a key point: “find cover‚Äù. This means protect yourself, so find partners you can trust and work with in the different regions you tackle. She noted: “Just because you are good at working in China it doesn’t mean you can work in Japan.‚Äù
Paul Robinson mentioned some interesting points which included gifting. He said, “You must always have a delegation of equal status to the individuals you are meeting otherwise you will not be taken seriously. Also don’t, assume a ‘yes’ means a ‘yes’ to your proposal or doing business with you. Often it simply means ‘yes’ to one point you have made so make sure you write everything down for clarity on both sides of a meeting.‚Äù He added, “Gifting is also an important way to build business relationships and this should be taken seriously.‚Äù

A few hurdles
Dewan assessed the key points and concluded that wealth managers and advisors would need to keep the following points in mind. Fraud and payoffs can be a real problem even if you are working on charitable projects. Vijay Patel commented with some regret, “Everyone wants a cut somewhere along the line even if you explain that money is strictly for charitable purposes. We have seen ten percent taken from charity money that we have fundraised by people helping us do so.‚Äù
Dewan also concluded that family dynamics need to be navigated carefully which prompted the nodding of heads in the panel. Sanjiv Shah and Saleem Sheikh agreed. Sheikh advised, “You have to understand the powerplay with each family member or you will end up with very difficult politics which will make it impossible to do business. Respect the older generation and understand the first and second generation dynamics. Families take things very personally. Marketing should also be very personal which will involve things like attending weddings and engaging on a one-to-one level.‚Äù Sheikh went on to say, “There is a real balancing act between working on transactions and the time and energy one needs to put into this, and building credibility which could mean free work initially.‚Äù
Fees were another topic of interest. Sheikh explained the culture and how to proceed. “It is important not to mention fees until at least the third meeting but focus on building trust and a business relationship or friendship,‚Äù he said. “Then it is vital to have the fee conversation so that clients understand the ball park.‚Äù He added, “Fixed fees are the only way to work. Hourly fees do not make sense to the Asian business person.‚Äù
Shah offered another interesting observation: “One obvious point to keep in mind is that performance is also key and matters more than ever with the Asian market.‚Äù He added that “NRI’s had historically been much easier to deal with particularly when investing in financial markets.‚Äù
Final points made by Dewan were: Red tape is rife, which will mean a deal that should take a few months may take a year or more. This included operating in countries like Japan. Robinson added, “When we launched the Disney channel we expected it to take four years to make money. It took eight. We probably wouldn’t have gone into Japan if we had known this starting out. It was very difficult to do business there.‚Äù However, he added, “In some areas of China there is such optimism because there is so much wealth that you can get people to say yes to deals that would take much longer in the West now.‚Äù
Vijay Patel concluded: “You will succeed much faster if you are recommended to individuals or families by a friend or an Asian family. They are always happy to help and it builds the necessary trust to start doing business with you so much faster.‚Äù

Have you seen our mentoring videos?

The Citywealth International Financial Centre Awards are coming up for their third year. Closing date for submissions is 12th July 2013.

More information

Citywealth has three distinct areas to it’s business all of which focus on connecting and informing the global, private wealth management, private client intermediary and uhnw community.

The three areas we cover are: 1. information in the form of: two print magazines – one covers international financial centres and the other is a global publication on the industry with leaders list directories in both/ e-newsletter – monthly – profiles and features/ app/ website, then 2. we have two awards ceremonies and finally 3. networking clubs.

1. Information in the form of: print/ e newsletter/ app/ website

Citywealth has a monthly newsletter with uhnw features, news and lifestyle each issue. This information is backed up on the website as an archive only available to subscribers. Subscriptions cost £500 + vat for multiple email addresses. It is delivered to email boxes globally.

Citywealth publishes in print and online, guides to leading individuals “leaders lists” in the wealth management industry at certain times of the year. Submission forms are required and two testimonials from peers or clients to support their entry into our recommended advisor/manager lists. These lists are checked and updated each year.

2. Awards ceremonies

Citywealth Magic Circle Awards: 16th May 2013
In their 8th year
400 + attendees

Citywealth holds an annual awards to find best advisors and managers in the global industry. Awards are judged by nominations sent in by the global industry then refined and selected by industry judges (usually ten global experts). There is also online voting. This is a chance to meet major private investors from a pool of the worlds wealthiest individuals and their advisers and managers. It is also an ideal platform to promote expensive lifestyle offerings and make charitable appeals.

Citywealth International Financial Centre Awards: January each year
In their third year
160 + attendees

Citywealth IFC Awards to find the best wealth advisors and managers in the Caribbean, Switzerland and UK Offshore. 160+ attendees.

3. Networking clubs: Citywealth Tomorrow Club: Citywealth YP and Citywealth Women in Wealth Supper Club

Citywealth Tomorrow Club
6.30-8.30pm /Four events a year/cocktails
60+ attendees

Citywealth Tomorrow Club aims to help mentor advisers and managers in their first or second job in the industry and help them up the career ladder. It also allows members to find their own group of contacts. Maximum four individuals allowed from any one organisation. Four cocktail party networking events per year with mentor speakers. Membership fees apply. See video library

CITYWEALTH YP: A business development networking club.
6.30-8.30pm/Four events a year /cocktails
60+ attendees

6.30-8.30pm /Four events a year/supper event
60+ attendees

Held in London each quarter we have an educational speaker, drinks and light supper to facilitate business networking. The group has 60 + members from private wealth and private client. Entry into the group is with twenty years + work experience in this industry sector only.

Citywealth also an Asian diaspora club called The Shanghai Delhi Club for UHNW +£100million private individuals. This is VIP invite only and wealth managers and advisors may only attend by sponsoring the club.

NEW initiatives for 2013

Citywealth has launched a mentor speaker library offering help and information for those in the industry from a mix of experts and uhnw entrepreneurs. The mentor speakers talk at our events to help prepare the upcoming generation and assist with corporate succession planning.


Citywealth was founded in 2005. Our aim is to bring together the diverse groups involved in the business of advising the UHNW and HNW community. Citywealth newsletter is subscribed to, read by and exclusively circulated to advisers and managers to the super rich.

Over 2,800 organisations receive Citywealth and the total readership is an estimated 9,500 senior executives globally from blue chip institutions and professional services firms who read Citywealth for its industry news, authoritative comment, topical features and people moves. Corporate subscriptions are £500 + VAT per annum.

What type of organisation reads Citywealth?

• Family Offices
• Private Client Law Firms
• Accountancy Firms
• Fiduciary and Trust & Estate Planning Companies
• Private Banks
• Wealth Manager
• Investment Manager
• Charities

What type of individual?

Citywealth’s readership is the senior management of the organisations it goes to. For example, it goes to partners in law firms and accountancy firms, directors and above in banks, directors of trust companies. It is also read by uhnw individuals.


Citywealth’s readership is split:

• UK/Channel Islands/IoM 56%
• Europe 16%
• Switzerland 12%
• Caribbean 5%
• Middle East 6%
• Asia 3%
• Other 2%

Contact office number (Marble Arch)

+ 44 (0) 20 7224 9565

Karen Jones, Editor

Joe Bell, Managing Director

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