Tell us about INS and what you do.
INS Global offers a tailored solution for foreign companies seeking to expand their business in the Asia-Pacific region. Whether you’re a SME or a multinational, we offer solutions including recruitment and employment, payroll and tax compliance, company incorporation, or even desk rental in our office based in the heart of Shanghai. We essentially help our clients bypass the difficulties and complexities of entering emerging markets, simplifying global expansion.
Who are your role models?
I’m very interested in the stories, vision and company culture of all businesses and clients, as well as hearing of success stories in articles or press releases. It is very important to be curious and have a hunger for these kinds of things but above all to understand why we do what we do. Indeed, I really admire big names who have changed the world in which we live such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft, etc. They have all introduced disruptive technology to the market and dramatically changed our way of living in the 2000s compared to the 90s when everything was so analogue.
What is the story behind INS? Where did the idea to create INS Global come from?
When I arrived in Shanghai 13 years ago, I myself was working underneath the structure of an Employee of Record for a large an oil and gas company. I very quickly realised that nobody in the company I was working for could help me with issues relating to the visa procedure, contract, tax queries or even HR or legal issues. Something needed to be done so two years later INS Global was born. We fill a much-needed gap in the market, maintaining a professional standard and enhancing human resource management. All of our staff work under the same guidance in line with three main pillars: fast delivery, competitive pricing, and client satisfaction. Anyone in our team is free to propose a new idea or project as long it fits in any of these three pillars.
Fast forward 12 years and here we are. Where do you see INS Global going in 10 years’ time?
In a global market, INS is going global too in order to help prospective clients worldwide to expand not only in China, but all over Asia, too. Although our services were initially popular with the food and beverage industry (such as luxury champagne and wine brands), at INS Global, we have replicated our foundation for success on a global scale. We now meet the needs of our growing portfolio of clients in more than 20 industries and are adding more every year. We are all enthusiastic about the future as we play an essential part for hundreds of companies, and it’s a pleasure to see their businesses grow too!
From your professional experience, is it more difficult for a foreign business to set up in China, or for a Chinese business to set up abroad?
China represents a huge challenge for any foreigner wishing to set up here. The language barrier, culture, socioeconomic context and politics makes you learn a lot as a professional. If you can start a company in in China and survive several years, you can start one anywhere!
What are the most challenging issues that foreign companies face when they expand into the Chinese market?
There are lots of different factors, hidden costs, and administrative work that businesses need to consider. It goes without saying that China is known for its stringent laws and regulations that are constantly changing, something which can deter foreign businesses from entering the market. Laws are also implemented much faster than in Europe. It is therefore important to find a suitable and reliable business partner equipped with the local knowledge to manage all aspects of your expansion.
Can you give us some examples of how INS Global helps businesses respond to these challenges?
We offer tailored solutions depending on the situation and needs of the foreign company. Whether it be a representative office or company incorporation, our expert team can offer their advice on the best option for your business considering factors such as risk, management requirements, cost and setup duration. If you are looking to employ, we can take care of the recruitment and pay roll for you! Our dedicated team of HR specialists boast an extensive network of Chinese professionals covering a wide range of industries, from engineering and manufacturing to medical to food and beverage. This means you can really focus on your business operations in China.
And what will the future challenges for INS be?
International development and innovation We want to extend our scope of services so that we can better meet our clients’ needs worldwide. The Chinese market is fast moving and sometimes unpredictable so it will be interesting to see how things pan out in the future with the rise of new sectors such as artificial intelligence and their relationship with expansion. In fact, the rise of China’s middle class represents growing opportunities for foreign companies to expand and sell their products here, so the future looks bright.
China’s economic situation has changed considerably over the past 10 years. What is your vision for the development of foreign companies?
Companies will continue to choose China for their expansion since it represents a significant opportunity to break into a market with 1.3 billion potential customers. Moreover, in the first half of 2012, China overtook the U.S. as the world’s top destination for foreign direct investment and I can only see its this trend growing. Attractive as it may be, there are bureaucratic and administrative complexities involved in setting up here as well as cultural differences that affect business practices. I don’t see the heavily regulated nature of things changing, which is why it is important to have a partner that can guide you every step of the way to ensure compliance. If you do, you’ll have no trouble expanding here.
For you, what does the arrival of French and other foreign companies bring to China?
As well as being an economic benefit, foreign expansion into China can also spread a country’s culture. The French food and beverage industry has brought about a cultural expansion in China recently with wine exports to the Chinese market really taking flight. Chinese investment in French chateaux means that there are benefits for both countries. Likewise, it is chance for international cooperation and an opportunity for industrial cooperation. Leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus recently signed a multimillion-dollar deal to sell aircraft to China, and Safran is now a major player in the Chinese civil aviation and security markets. It would be great to see more trade deals like this that really reinforce the strong relationship between France and China.
Is there room in the Chinese market for everyone? Is expansion an option for all?
In recent years, the Chinese government has implemented stricter environmental policies and ordered inspections of factories to ensure they are compliant. This may pose as a barrier to entry for foreign businesses in the industrial and manufacturing industry since officials may be reluctant to approve the necessary permits for operation. Recycling is also a hot topic now with major cities such as Shanghai having dedicated recycling bins.
Out of all the countries you’ve lived in, has your managing style been influenced by a particular culture?
Having lived in more than 6 countries and visited more than 40 in my life, I must say that I have learned from all of them and it has been an honour to have met so many different people. Culture, language, food, customs, to name a few, have also influenced me in a great way. That’s the reason why we created INS in a city as cosmopolitan as Shanghai, where we work with companies from all the continents in the world! And we keep learning as within INS, we strive to improve on an ongoing basis and reach excellence.