Organisational consulting firm Q5 opens office in Hong Kong

02 October 2018 5 min. read
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A year after Q5 Partners arrived as a company in Hong Kong, the firm has established its first office there. The British-origin consultancy headquartered in London is well positioned to help clients enter a crowded yet lucrative market, according to the testimony of a number of clients, interviewed by the firm to highlight its milestone.

Launched by four friends wanting to change the way things were done in the traditional consulting industry, during the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Q5 Partners first opened for business in 2009. The group thought they could help businesses better respond to the challenges confronting them, with benefits that lasted beyond the four quarters of the financial year, into the fifth quarter, or 'Q5', which the company derives its name from. The consultancy works for clients across several industries, providing media, financial services, retail, professional services and government consulting services.

Earlier in 2018, Q5 was among eight firms to have been named a top boutique management consultancy to work for in the UK by The Sunday Times. Data collected from the firm’s workforce, 100% of Q5 staff agreed people in their team go out of their way to help them – and Q5 fosters this in a number of innovative manners beyond face-to-face interaction, such as Global Espresso video calls, Slack, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and a monthly team meeting outside the office.

Organisational consulting firm Q5 opens office in Hong Kong

Q5 is part of the Transformation Alliance, an international consulting group, originally founded in four European countries. The sister firms of the alliance are independent, strong and local leaders, and include h&z Management Consulting from Munich, Germany, Kea & Partners from Paris, France and MBS Consulting from Milan, Italy. Today, Q5 has around 150 employees across offices in London, New York, Sydney and a new presence in Hong Kong. The launch of its Hong Kong office comes months after it initially opened for business in the area in autumn 2017.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s consulting sector is largely focused on the financial services industry, as it develops gradually into a key finance hub in the region. While the autonomous territory is fostering a burgeoning consulting industry, however, businesses looking to join the thriving economy should take note that life is not easy for new companies in the former British colony.

A multitude of issues mean that companies could fail fast if they do not take stock of their surroundings quickly. A cultural clash, differing business practices, or even sky-rocketing office space costs could all up-end newcomers to the market before they have time to get their bearings. This is why it is important to tap up external expertise in order to make the most of entering the market, according to several Q5 clients and a local economic expert, who were recently interviewed by the firm to celebrate its formal launch in the market.

“International companies, and there are many of them with bases in Hong Kong, face many challenges on how to connect their global strategy. I think that companies that you see succeeding in Hong Kong are open minded, they’re collaborative, they’re able to make those connections, but also adjust their strategies for a local market where relevant,” said Jonathan Wright, Global Managing Director, Dow Jones.

Katrina Andrews, Managing Partner at Andrews Partnership, agreed that things may appear easier than they actually are for expats arriving to found businesses. However, Andrews warned, “There’s been a lot of expats here for a long time, working this market, so to have a pointed difference to them, you need not just international experience, but you need to understand the nuances of Asia… For a start, things here take longer. You might think that an acceptable turnaround time is two days and you’ll call them, but around here it’s very hierarchical and there is a process to go through.”

While insurance sector expert Michell Ho concurred that culture is a big factor for those arriving in the territory, it is still a place which entrepreneurs with the right ideas and execution can succeed in. Ho expanded, “Culture will be a big factor when foreign companies want to first set foot in Hong Kong. We are quite receptive of new ideas, we are open to speak up at something if we think we should, so in Hong Kong we have the blend of the best of both worlds.”

In order to make the most of these potential inroads into the market, Katrina Andrews stated that persistence and consistency are above all key. She elaborated, “For your business to have roots in this region there is no way you can fast-track it. It is the old fashioned way of being accessible, of being reliable. It is important that you make it clear it is a long-term investment; that you are here to service the Asian market, and not that you are here to get what you can and then run.”

Commenting on the importance of a consulting firm’s insight in establishing strong business ties in Hong Kong, Jonathan Wright concluded, “I think the keys around collaboration and innovation are the driving forces of what it takes to be successful here in Hong Kong... I think Q5 are well-placed to do that… I’ve personally worked with Q5 on a number of projects and I think, as a firm, they understand us as a customer. What our objectives are. What our aspirations are. And they’re able to tailor their approach to help us to achieve those, and I think for that reason it’s been a very successful partnership, over the last several years.”