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Henley Group opens in Shanghai, targets Beijing

The Henley Group has opened an office in Shanghai and is looking to expand into Beijing in 2012


“We are currently working on a feasibility study for Beijing, with plans to open there next year,” Henley Group chairman and group chief executive Antony Michell said.

The Henley Group is actively recruiting to fill as many as 16 advisory positions over the next three years, Michell added.

The company employs around 40 people in its Hong Kong office, and a similar number in a Singapore subsidiary that it opened in 2006. In total it has around 42 advisers between the two offices. It has around 4,000 clients, mostly in the high net worth and aspiring HNW categories, according to Michell.

The opening of the Henley Group’s Shanghai office coincides with the company’s 21st year anniversary in the Asian market.

News of the Shanghai office coincides with a flurry of media coverage of the beginning of work on the Disney Corporation’s new theme park and resort in Shanghai. The new theme park will be Disney’s first on the Chinese mainland, and reflects the growing interest major multi-national companies are taking in the Chinese market generally, and Shanghai in particular.

In targeting Shanghai’s expatriates, Henley Group will be joining a number of advisory companies that are testing the Chinese market, which until recently most have handled from Hong Kong.

Among them is the DeVere Group, which has an office in Shanghai’s bustling Puxi district as well as outposts in Beijing and Hong Kong; and Hong Kong-based, Asia-focused Business Class Group.

Heading up the new Henley Group office with the title of business director is Oliver Wickham, who had been a team manager in Henley’s Hong Kong office.

‘European and British expats’

Henley Group’s core clientele is European and British expatriates, typically working for either multi-national companies or small- and medium-sized enterprises. Whether they are planning to stay abroad for one year or 20 does not matter, according to Michell. 

“The time they plan to remain offshore is not relevant to us, as we are very good at retaining clients even when they relocate,” he said.

The Henley Group was founded in 1990, and acquired by Michell, who remains its sole owner, in 2002. He had joined the company earlier as a consultant, advising on tax efficient investments, after training as an accountant with Arthur Anderson in the late 1980s.

With a population of more than 22 million, Shanghai is China’s largest city by population. It is also viewed by the rest of the world as the heart of China’s industrial sector, while also attracting growing numbers of Western tourists, a fact not lost on the Western hotel chains, including Sheraton and Hilton, that have recently entered and expanded in the market. Last month Hilton opened its first Waldorf Astoria hotel in China on the Bund in Shanghai.

The latest Global Financial Centres Index, which is compiled twice a year by  London-based Z/Yen Group, ranks Shanghai in fifth place, tied with Tokyo, behind London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.

To read more about the Henley Group, see the January 2010 issue of International Adviser.

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