Richard Hough - Corporate Partner, London
Why do I think the China strategy is important?
In terms of the economics, we know that non-UK clients are very interested in UK assets. Chinese companies in particular find it easier to expand into Europe and the UK than other continents. The regulatory environment is relatively benign and assets are cheaper than elsewhere. It’s a compelling strategy. What we need are people who are intellectually and culturally attuned to the client.
The two clients I’ve worked with specifically are Huawei, the Chinese telecoms company, and Anbang, the Chinese insurance company. With Huawei, they’ve grown in the UK – investing in the internet of things and AI and building telecoms presence in the UK.
A key thing I’ve learnt is that Chinese clients go about doing deals in a specific way, so we need people in the London office on the same wavelength as they are. It’s not just speaking the language, it’s understanding the culture too. It’s important we recruit the right people in London to deliver on the China strategy, to serve the work as it comes through from the Chinese offices and from the network generally.
Some firms hire Chinese speakers just to interact with Chinese clients on a transitional basis. We want more than this - we want people to be client facing lawyers and to fulfil their potential as part of our China strategy.