French Tech X Harvey Law Group
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded this company?
My name is Bastien Trelcat. I’m the managing partner of Harvey Law Group for Southeast Asia based out of Bangkok, but managing six or seven offices throughout Southeast Asia. I’ve been a partner of the firm since 2013, but the firm was established in 1992. So this year, we are celebrating our 29th anniversary and I landed in Bangkok and set up the office here in 2013 2014 right before the coup of May 2014. The Bangkok office is composed of around 10 people, specialized in legal matters, residency and citizenship by investments is a growing industry. There was very well quite unknown, I would say, 10 years ago, which now represents a total turnover worldwide of 3 billion dollars and is meant to grow for 30 billion dollars within the next 10 years. It consists in investing in the country and because of the investments receiving a permanent residency card or even a citizenship and a second passport.
What strategy did you use to launch HLG in Thailand?
Back in 2013, social media and online marketing was not really part of our strategy to implement and create an office, so, we were mostly relying on registration and attending events at the Chambers of Commerce French because in French, the English one and the Singaporean, the Hong Kong one, because our headquarters is in Hong Kong and of course, friends and families, networks, business developments. Bit by bit, we switched to online marketing using publications on online platforms and also a great deal, as well as offline media like traditional newspapers. Because the core of our luxury or business targets high net worth individuals who in these countries rely on offline and traditional media like Forbes and Tetler. Progressively, we switched to online marketing simply because we realized with the new tools developed by online marketing agencies, Google and Facebook, that it was actually easier to target the audience that we want to target the so called high net worth individuals.
How does your company innovate in digital? What is the impact of digital on your activity?
Well, we are a law firm traditionally not keen on innovation. So we, like I previously mentioned, we were not really familiar with online marketing. We were still creating investment products with a mobility immigration component that we rely on a good old sheet of paper and drawing some thoughts and checking the regulations by hands. However, a big part of our marketing strategy now is relying online. We have also developed a new core business called KYC, or due diligence, where we will use softwares to basically add access to a lot of information on companies and individuals to build the profile by building the profile. We will make risk assessments of this person towards banks, towards governments, towards administrations or even for private to private matters like you want to do business with someone, but you want to know who you’re dealing with. You can come to us. And with those tools, we can now build that profile to help you decide whether you want to continue the discussion with a person or not. In 2020 will launch two or three different offices in Africa and Asia. And needless to say, that was very difficult to start efficiently when basically you cannot meet people physically. And this is since this was our traditional way of developing and entering a country, those offices didn’t perform very well. However, because we’d say that these two or three years existing marketing, digital marketing policies, we were actually able to sign clients purely found online in countries where we actually had no offices. So some countries performed badly because they were newly open and good local resources. but surprisingly, online marketing actually helps us to basically mitigate that loss by reaching out to clients we didn’t know we could reach out to. So all in all, I mean, 2020 was a pretty good year for us simply because we spend more of our marketing budget on online marketing and one of the key lessons I learned is the more you spend online, the more money you’re going to make online as well.
Can you tell us more about the concept of residency and citizenship by investment?
I’m sure. You are all familiar with the concepts of green cards, the famous US green card that will allow you to move to the States and live there. Most of you only know the lottery parts where you pay 100 dollars to register yourself and hope that you will be picked in the lottery. Most people don’t know that you can also get the green card by investing 900,000 dollars into a job creating business in the US and while the lottery, you have a 0.01% chance of winning the lottery. If you make that investment and did a few more conditions, well, there’s a 100% chance that you will get the green card. This concept exists not only in the US, but also pretty much everywhere in the world. Some countries, however, do not give you the right to be a resident of the country, but also to become a citizen right away. So you would become naturalized, you will have a certificate of citizenship and they will give you a second passport. What most people don’t know, so many programs exist right now. 10 years ago, there were only a handful of them, two or three. And right now they are both 25 investment immigration programs that will give you the right to live in a country or become a citizen. You can check “www.harveylawcorporation.com” and learn more about investment, immigration and residency and citizenship by investments. Harvey Laws Group is also very well specialised in what we call startup visas. Startup visa means immigration program dedicated to young entrepreneurs who have an innovative business to develop in some countries.
Can you tell us more about helping young entrepreneurs to develop their projects?
Well, when you are young entrepreneurs in a certain country, you may face difficulty to have access to the right resources, the right incubator, the right accelerator, the right mentor. This is why some countries have developed to attract those very highly skilled workers to develop innovative projects at home. Canada was the pioneer in this industry and since 2015 has implemented what we call a startup visa that will help you to get a work permit in less than two months and even permanent residency in about a year to a year and a half. If you are backed by an incubator, you believe in your project and will spend you up to two years mentoring your business idea and yourself. Well, this immigration program is definitely for you based on the success that we have with this Canadian startup. We have innovated three more products in three different countries, Portugal, France and recently Singapore. Concept is the same. If you have an innovation project that is backed by these lights by an incubator, those countries will unroll the red carpets to welcome you and give you as much time as you need long term visas, even permanent residency.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
The first two months were very, very scary, to be honest with you, simply because most people were not really focusing on the business anymore. It was mostly about, I would say, going back home safely and making sure your family would get back home safely. And our business totally installed in March and April last year until most of our clients and prospect clients realized that they were maybe somewhere they didn’t want to be. They wished they could have been somewhere else and having a second residency somewhere or second passport, allowing you to travel because you are a lawful resident or lawful citizen living overseas, I mean, would have made things very different for them. So eventually, from May onwards, this business, this Residency and Citizenship by investment business, not only for us, but I think for all players in this industry, just 2009 – 2020 was actually a good year for us and we believe that 2021 will be even better.
What are the future digital plans for HLG?
That’s a very interesting question, because two years ago I wouldn’t even say that we were going to rely on online marketing. But I’ve been doing a lot of stuff on A.I. (artificial intelligence) and how this could actually help us to grow our business. And I would say it was very, very interesting to notice that A.I. would definitely be great compliments of our online strategy. Simply because the level of data that you can capture online is way greater that without A.I. or software. So we will, I think, progressively use A.I. to support more and optimize our online strategy by studying more actually or with the targeted customer, those high net worth individuals or intention what they want to go where they spend their money. And it’s amazing to see what type of data you can access, business transactions, personal transactions. It’s amazing. And I think that’s the probably the future of this industry.
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