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Interview with Antoine Boquen, Managing Director of New Horizons Global Partners

Thank you for joining us, Antoine! Can you explain briefly what New Horizons Global Partners does, and what your role entails?

Antoine Boquen
Antoine Boquen

Thank you for the invitation. New Horizons Global Partners is specialized in inbound investment to Asia. In other words, we simplify global expansion strategies for businesses and help them to onboard and manage employees internationally, with or without a local entity. As New Horizons Managing Director, I am directly involved in the in-country operations for our China, Hong Kong, and Singapore branches.

Why do businesses need help when they are trying to enter Asian markets? What problems might they encounter?

Businesses are seeking mid or long-term resource persons (or employees) to be deployed in record time in strategic markets. We facilitate employment abroad by offering a one-stop solution for staff hiring, payroll, and termination (where necessary) in compliance with local regulations. Today, businesses need help navigating the complicated labor laws of foreign countries so they can focus 100% on their core business activities.

Can you describe some of the main benefits of working with a PEO over establishing a new legal entity in Asia?

PEOs enable foreign businesses to set up a presence in a new country in record time. New Horizon Global Partners provides solutions that enable our clients to hire in a few days, as opposed to the few months that it takes to establish a new legal entity to hire.

Does a PEO serve businesses in the long-term, or are they only suitable for short-term business ventures?

Employees hired by a PEO can easily be transferred to a new legal entity, which makes PEO suitable for businesses that have short and long-term ambitions. The purpose of the PEO model is to provide companies with expert advice on the best in-country practices so that they can establish a sustainable presence in a new country in the long-term if desired.

How do the Asian labor markets differ from other markets around the world? What are their special characteristics?

Asian markets are characterized by their large talent pools and labor skill differences. It is complex to understand how best to retain top talent for a long term project if you are a foreign company. This fact is made even more difficult in some cases, as some countries like China require the hiring of local nationals for the business to succeed. While some companies in Asia do benefit from western management, the best companies seem to perform better in the long run when they create or supplement their executive teams with hires from local top Asian universities (many students from leading universities have international business exposure). The key to succeeding in Asia is identifying and hiring top talent, and being proactive about maximizing their potential for the development of the company’s business activities.

What do you see as being the most exciting opportunities for new business in Asia this year?

Asia is opening up to foreign companies, and countries are implementing new strategies to attract international business. China remains center of attention for most international companies, as the Chinese workforce is now able to cover most of the surrounding developing markets like Vietnam and the Philippines. Hong Kong and Singapore still play a significant role as hubs for companies to do business in South-East Asia, especially in the finance, legal services, and insurance industries.

What do you see as being the greatest challenges for businesses entering Asian markets?

The greatest challenge for foreign businesses today is navigating local government administration and regulations. Most companies spend the vast majority of their time dealing with paperwork, while the essence of market entry is to spend the first few years focused on core business development. The online shift for the banking system and certain government registration procedures has helped a lot to ease the administrative complexity, but some challenges remain, particularly in regard to labor and payroll compliance.

Chinese students are going abroad to study more than ever before, and then returning to China. What impact do you see this having in China? Are other Asian countries experiencing the same changes with their young workforces?

This trend is benefiting China as its best talent in the workforce is now returning home. Major hubs like Beijing and Shanghai have seen an increase in international managers returning to China. That talent is mainly joining local and international firms at strategic decision-making levels, increasing the global market salary range. Developed countries are experiencing a surge of local talents moving abroad during their first years in business, but eventually coming back home with a stronger will and international background. These movements profoundly impact roles traditionally “protected” for expatriates due to increased competition.

NHGP has worked with some major international companies to help them expand in Asia. What do you think draws them to working with NHGP over other companies?

New Horizons is currently the leader in Asia for the one-stop expansion solution: recruitment, staffing, and company incorporation. By adopting the most compliant market entry models for our clients, we have successfully grown our client businesses for several years. This experience has seen New Horizons recognized as a significant industry player, collaborating with experts in markets in the US, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, and Russia.

If you had to sum up the approach of NHGP in three words, what would those words be?

Rapid, secure, and tailor-made.

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