Since 2012, the explosion of Asian property developers is stunning. It is not just the volume of apartments that they are responsible for mushrooming around the world, but the seismic shift in the way they are being perceived and operate as global business leaders. Even with heightening US and China trade relations, while many remain prudently cautious, these developers are extremely determined to leave a legacy.
These aren’t just Chinese mum and dad property investors hoping for a quick flip, I’m referring to the elite who have broadened their focus beyond the physical environment to the development of master planned communities and opulent iconic structures. Think Aqualand’s Managing Director Jin Lin who at 30years of age made BRW’s Rich List after establishing his business in 2014 and Poly Australia that arrived on our shores in 2015 with 6 staff members, now ballooned to over 150.
Sure, you can say a lot came from family money, but I can assure you, the majority are self-made and like most Australians who are given a fair go, I love a good rag to riches story.
So how is it that within a generation, and often within a decade of their lives that these entrepreneurs create the fortunes of their empires?
To put it simply, the reason they are now succeeding is that they understand, absorb, and implement important gold standards of:
- Mastery of architecture and design.
- Fundamentals sales and marketing working in collaboration.
- Understanding and building products to suit western culture’s standard of living and lifestyle
- Exercising strict financial discipline
To understand their meteoric rise, it is crucial to analyse the essential mechanics of this new generation because they don’t just bring cash to the table – they are fiercely ambitious, have something to prove and they’re prepared to work extremely hard for it while simultaneously tapping into key western talent to make sure it happens.
They’re no longer the nerds who hand in their assignments early with the help of their Tiger parents because while academia is still important, it is their nurtured enterprising spirit that is uber cool. In fact, they’re so cool that they are good at sports too!
You see, unlike the 1980s, these Asian business leaders don’t need translators anymore. They are highly sophisticated, often Ivy League-educated and fluent in multiple languages, even sprouting a refined European accent.
They understand localisation, they act and behave like any other locally based developer from the way they acquire sites, obtaining approvals and ultimately delivering projects
This new generation understands the BCG Matrix, Value Chain and creativity over imitation so they are not afraid to invest in quality by assembling all-star teams of prominent architects, international designers and recruiting local sales stars to ensure success so don’t be surprised if they have an MBA by 25.
For this new league, pre sales to their multi-hundred unit projects are “nice to have”, but not necessary to proceed towards construction because while cash is king in accounting, it is connections that is king when you operate at this level.
So what next?
“The next chapter in Asian development in Australia is now about maintaining longevity by evolving and reinventing themselves” Hong Kong-listed developer Aoyuan International says quoted in AFR Jan 2020.
“A key approach to building a self-sustainable development business is to operate like a local developer,” said Aoyuan International Group Australian head of development Adrian Liaw.
My enduring motto for clients who looking to expand into new markets has always been to think globally and act locally.
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