David Howell, the firm’s chief executive officer, told International Adviser that he expected the business to expand more quickly in the Middle East – it has offices in Qatar and Dubai – than Asia, but it has identified several attractive opportunities for growth in the region.
The company, which trades as Guardian Life Management in Hong Kong, owing to a name-clash with a longer-established firm, has opened its office at the Hopewell Centre – a skyscraper located at 183 Queen’s Road East in Wanchai.
Howell says the office, which currently houses a team of eight plus administrative staff, will target three markets in Hong Kong: expats, local Hong Kong Chinese, and mainland Chinese. The Chinese markets will be handled by a separate team, which the firm is building.
Howell, who is heading the Hong Kong office until he can find a suitable person to run it, said the mainland Chinese sector will be the hardest to crack. “It is about relationships,” he adds.
Expanding into Asia is a significant development for Guardian, which previously only had a presence in Europe and the Middle East. Building on its European business, the firm opened an office in Qatar in 2009, with the aim of tapping into the country’s burgeoning expat market.
According to Howell, the next location in its Asian expansion is likely to be Singapore.