Who’s Focused on Growth?

Growth is an assumption of every business. Ask any manager and they’ll say they hope 2019 will bring greater revenue, higher profits, and new products or services to offer. Yet looking deeper at growth it’s a responsibility that’s not assigned to any one person in the company.

The CEO is managing the whole of the business, and gets locked into day-to-day issues across all areas. Marketing is looking at revenue and the products and service offering. Finance is managing all aspects of financial operations, and sales is looking to increase transactions.

In his latest book, marketing expert Andy Brent looks at what aspects of the job a growth director would lead. “The Growth Director’s Secret” starts by slicing across the company to look at the myriad of responsibilities that come with growth – from human resources to finance to marketing.

You can find the preface to his new book here: https://bit.ly/2Qjbwok

In his research, Mr Brent found only one company had assigned a global growth officer. Mondelēz International, Inc., is an American multinational confectionery, food, and beverage company with about 83,000 people around the world. Timothy Cofer is Chief Growth Officer.

In this role, Tim oversees the teams responsible for corporate strategy, global categories, global marketing, and research, development and quality. This integrated approach enables Mondelēz International to efficiently allocate resources to the biggest and highest return growth opportunities for its global innovation platforms and Power Brands.

Mondelez International website

In September 2018, Mondelēz International Chief Executive Officer, Dirk Van de Put outlined the company’s focus on a global growth culture.

“With strong leadership in our categories, an unparalleled portfolio of global and local brands and a solid footprint in fast-growing markets, we are uniquely positioned to lead the future of snacking. We have developed a clear strategic plan to accelerate our growth and drive attractive total returns centered around three strategic priorities: accelerate consumer-centric growth, drive operational excellence and build a winning growth culture.”

Mondelēz International Outlines Long-Term Strategy and Provides 2019 Guidance

The subject of growth is too important to leave to chance – or to assume that each manager will work in lockstep to achieve one goal. To learn how to bring together all facets of growth, come to the next meeting of Asia Insight Circle on Friday, 25 January 2019.

China has US$17 Trillion to Manage Economic Shocks

China has assets and cash totaling US$17.41 trillion to support state-led actions to minimise risk and maintain economic order according to CASS, a leading China-based think tank. The assessment comes after China’s Central Economic Work Conference held in mid-December 2018 held in Beijing’s Jingxi Hotel.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) is the premier academic organization and comprehensive research center of the People’s Republic of China in the fields of philosophy and social sciences.

“The government has accumulated lots of assets during the economic catch-up” over the past 40 years, “which allows us to handle risk with confidence.” – Zhang Xiaojing, Research Team, CASS – The South China Morning Post

Despite these riches, the government stressed there would not be major economic stimuli, such as used during the 2009 financial crisis, according to China Economic Review. This is despite a “complicated and grim external environment” brought on by a deepening trade war with the US that threatens to decrease China’s predicted growth of 6%+/- y/y.

The end-of-conference press release gave a broad list of areas where the government wants demand to pick up including infrastructure on industrial networks, transportation and logistics, and upgrades to manufacturing equipment. 

The meeting was held in Beijing’s Jingxi Hotel that is used only by top party officials for government business. “Ordinary travelers have never been allowed past the 48-year-old hotel’s drab, Soviet-style exterior. The heavily guarded Jingxi is where the Communist Party elite meet behind closed doors to hammer out high-stakes personnel decisions or to map out future policies.” Learn more about this secretive venue in this profile article.

Hong Kong FinTech Week with Musheer Ahmed

On the eve of Hong Kong FinTech Week, Musheer Ahmed provided members of Asia Insight Circle a preview of the world’s first cross-border financial technology conference taking place in Hong Kong, Asia’s financial capital, and in Shenzhen, China’s Silicon Valley. Some 8,000+ attendees from over 50 countries will meet to preview, share, and discuss technology trends impacting the financial services sector.

Mr Musheer is General Manager of The FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK) – an independent, not-for-profit, membership based association representing Hong Kong’s local and global FinTech community.

Deloitte has ranked Hong Kong fifth in the world among fintech centres, behind London, Singapore, New York and Silicon Valley, but the city’s impressive business culture, high-tech infrastructure, government support and funding, along with a world-class talent pool, are proving attractive to fintechs. (Source: Asia Times)

FinTech Week features over 200 of the world’s top FinTech founders, investors, regulators, and academics, who are shaping the future of financial services by driving a technological revolution in the industry across Asia and globally.

Among the keynote speakers is Oleg Tinkov, founder of the Tinkoff Bank – the world’s largest fully online bank, and today one of the most profitable banks in the world. Tinkoff Bank received ‘Bank of the Year’ status from Financial Times Banker Magazine in 2017.

Even those not in financial services benefit from understanding the business shifts underway, said Musheer. He discussed at length the creation of ecosystems bringing together financial services with other industries, whether healthcare of supply chain.

“The emergence of ecosystems marks a shift in the landscape as unexpected alliances are forged, sector boundaries blur, and long-standing strengths count for less. It also marks a shift in how business leaders manage relationships within an ecosystem.” (Source: “Winning in Digital Ecosystems” by McKinsey)

Making Land for 1.1 Million People in Hong Kong

Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered her second policy address for Hong Kong yesterday. Among the most ambitious initiatives is a plan to create new islands to house 1.1 million people. The 1,700 hectares (or 4,200 acres) will cover 17 square kilometres  and will rise from the seabed in an area east of Lantau Island (home to Hong Kong International Airport and Disneyland). The project will cost HK$500 billion dollars (US$63 billion) which is 50% of the current reserves in government coffers. (Yes, Virginia, countries can run surpluses!)

Homes from the seabed in Hong Kong.

Called “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” the details of the plan can be accessed here.

Lantau Island is already being transformed by the soon-to-be-opened bridge linking Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai, China. This 39 kilometre (24 mile) over-sea crossing opens is one of the longest bridges in the world. (Learn all the facts on Wikipedia here.) It was developed to expedite integration of the Greater Bay Area – a commerce and technology corridor that is home to 68 million people.

One of the world’s longest bridges spans three countries

Also recently opened is the Hong Kong link to China’s high-speed rail network. The High Speed Rail connects Hong Kong West Kowloon Station with 44 Mainland China rail stations without interchange. That means you can leave Hong Kong at night and wake the next morning in Hangzhou, Shanghai, or Beijing. Since opening in late September an average of 46,000 people per day have crossed into Hong Kong via the new rail service. During recent “Golden Week” holidays visitor numbers to Hong Kong increased 20% from last year – with no major spike at other crossings.

From Hong Kong to 44 cities in China direct

The “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” is another demonstration of the mass-scale planning necessary to secure Hong Kong’s future in rapidly developing Southern China. The land reclamation and other land alternatives will be the focus of the November event at Asia Insight Circle featuring Paul Zimmerman.

Doing Business in China: The Fastest Way Into Shenzhen

When businesses are interested in doing business in China, it’s not unusual for the city of Shenzhen to be at the top of the list for a visit. Shenzhen is a major Chinese city located across the greenbelt to the north of Hong Kong. This bustling city is pressed against the border with high rises edging up to the thin river that separates the two countries (technically one country, two systems). It is separated by a hard border with immigration to exit Hong Kong and separate controls to enter China. For many business professionals, the two cities might well be separated by thousands of miles.

But don’t let that deter you. In fact, when doing business in China, the fastest way into Shenzhen (or any city really), is simply knowing what’s what and how to make it all happen. Once you’re in the know, it’s an easy adventure to get into Shenzhen. Don’t delay your immersion any longer.

Getting Into Shenzhen from Hong Kong

There are a variety of different ways to get from Hong Kong into Shenzhen. These include a cross-border car service, taxi, train, or by foot. Let’s take a look.

Cross-Border Car Service. Business professionals going from Hong Kong to Shenzhen usually rely on cross-border car service. These Hong Kong-registered minivans are well appointed and employ professional drivers. There are two primary crossing points for cars. Shenzhen Bay serves the Western side of the city and is a perfect entry point if heading into Foshan, Shenzhen Airport, or Shekou. Those headed into the central business district will want a car livensed to cross at Futian. Cross border cars can enter one port or the other (but never both). When engaging a car and driver, do check where your proposed driver is licensed to cross, as getting from the western bridge crossing to downtown can add 45 minutes to an hour to your trip.

Train. My preferred border crossing from Hong Kong to Shenzhen is Lok Ma Chau on the Hong Kong side. Here’s the Hong Kong MTR travel planning site for trains to this station. This feeds into Futian on the Shenzhen side, which is the start of the commercial district. The Shenzhen MTR from this station leads directly north through the business district to Shenzhen North Train Station. From here, you can book a MagLev train to Shanghai or Beijing and travel overnight in the comfort of a business class-sized sleeper bed.

Taxi. The fastest way to get to Lok Ma Chau is via taxi. The border crossing is in a restricted area. Passenger cars aren’t allowed to enter without special residency permits. Otherwise, you access this station via MTR. The last station before the border control area is Sheung Shui.

By Foot. For three years, I worked in Shenzhen and lived in Hong Kong, crossing the broder Monday morning and returning after the work week ended. For the first month I “treated myself” to the luxury of a cross-border driver. But after three years of regular commutes, I became somewhat of a pro at border crossing, and if regular crossings are in your future, I recommend eventually ditching the car and walking into Shenzhen.

There are two major pedestrian crossings into Shenzhen. The largest by volume is Lowu, where some 85 million people pass each year. This feeds into the sister city of Luohu on the Shenzhen side – home of the famed Luohu Commercial City (a shopper’s paradise). Many expats visit Luohu to take advantage of the deals at this mall and never venture farther. That’s a shame as it’s one of the least attractive areas in Shenzhen—there’s so much more to this amazing and vibrant city.

What to Expect at the Border

However you decide to cross from Hong Kong into Shenzhen, both border crossings are protected by immigration officials on either side. First, you exit one country and walk across an enclosed bridge. You can’t help but think of an Eastern Bloc movie of prisoner exchanges when you walk over “No Man’s Land” from one country to another.

Be sure to have your visa ready for China before heading across. For most nationalities, a Shenzhen Special Economic Zone “Visa On Arrival” is available at certain border crossings. Note that Shenzhen Bay and LuoHu have offices, but this is not available at the Lok Ma Chau-Futian crossing. This visa allows you to visit for five days, but you cannot venture deeper into China. Don’t worry about crossing some invisible line—wherever public transport goes, you can venture freely. Your visa won’t allow you to book long-distance train or bus fares, and airports won’t allow you to book flights on this limited visa.

Once you’ve made it across the border into Shenzhen, check out this bustling home to 12.5 million people. You can enjoy the night life in Coco Park, browse through Dafen Artist’s Village, or check out the modernist architecture in Futian. You can take in all the monuments at Wonderful China or Windows on the World. Make time to hit the beach at Damesha and consider enjoying dinner aboard a cruise ship at Shekou. And on your way home, make sure to make time to stop at Luohu to grab a perfect gift for families and friends.

As an aside, if you need help, my team and I are happy to help sort out the intricacies of cross-border crossing, especially if you’re traveling with a group. We can also arrange dinner outings, help plan and manage special events, make introductions, or act as your special envoys as needed as you explore doing business in China. Whatever you need, if we can’t provide the service you need, we know who can!

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