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A business incubator

August 2015 | The Standard

Some economists have voiced concerns that, given China's increasing direct connections with the Western world, Hong Kong may be losing its unique status as the springboard into the Mainland. But Wilma Wu, Servcorp general manager - Hong Kong, points out that we have the distinct advantage of a well- established infrastructure, especially in finance and banking, as well as an independent judiciary that guarantees fair play and legal protection.

"The transparency and dependability of the system means that there are no nasty surprises for businessmen operating in Hong Kong," she adds. "That's what keeps them coming."

Wu observes that the financial tsunami has curbed the exuberance of entrepreneurs seeking to set up business here. "Instead of leasing 20,000 sq. ft. offices, they are now sending small exploratory teams to assess the market first," she says. And the flexibility of Servcorp serviced offices in terms of lease and expandability means that they can continue to manage their business cost-effectively till they become a full- fledged operation that justifies setting up their own separate office.

"We are very proud of our mission as a business incubator," says Wu. "Our clients can hit the deck running, and it is very gratifying to see them get established and accomplish their goals."

In her analysis of the demand for serviced offices, Wu points out that the China market is, of course, very strong, having doubled in the last three years, and accounting for 30 percent of their local business. In using Hong Kong as a base for overseas investments, they are characterized by their strong desire to make a statement with a prestigious CBD address, like the ifc.

While there is a continued strong reputation from Europe, the US and Southeast Asia, there has also been a noticeable rise in interest from Russia, the multi-stans in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as well as from South America, notably Brazil.

The client could be a mining company working on an IPO in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange; a law firm seeking to establish an Asia-Pacific branch office; an IT consultant on a specific assignment; or a group of fresh graduates on a mission to start a business venture. Their commonality is that they have all found their niche office support through Servcorp, a serviced office provider first established in Sydney, Australia way back in 1978.

"Globalization is not just a catch word, but is happening right in front of us," says Wu as she takes a broader, forward view of the market. A shrewd service provider, Servcorp not only understands, but anticipates the needs of businessmen, as the company boasts a worldwide coverage with premium facilities in 150 prime city locations. It has also taken the lead, progressing from serviced offices to virtual offices that tailor to the needs of executives on the go, irrespective of their whereabouts.

With phenomenal advances in technology and a marked increase in the number of tech-savvy businessmen, virtual office is the unmistakable trend of the future, says Wu. "In simple terms, the concept is to outsource your office to Servcorp who looks after your logistical needs, and lets you concentrate on your business."

"Anyone can put a desk and a phone into a room and call themselves a serviced office," she remarks. "But at Servcorp, we give our clients 'the unfair advantage' because we invest heavily on proprietary software that are easy to use. Clients can, for example, avail of our 'Find me Follow me' technology to be in complete control of their business at all times."

"We have over 100 IT professionals on our technical support team, providing clients with a cost-effective 24/7 service," Wu continues. "They save with below telco call rates with our global network, plus the flexibility of answering or forwarding calls from their smartphone, tablet or desktop."

"All our clients are assigned a dedicated account manager who follows up on specific instructions," says Wu. "Our staff go through a very rigorous training program as we bank on our repository of knowledge. And we wholly own our offices without franchising to ensure that we uphold the quality of our service and our brand name."

Visitors to Servcorp offices will not find any company signage at the door. "This is deliberate because Servcorp is all about promoting our clients' business," she explains.


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