Relationships rule in Asian business

The £12m-turnover recruitment firm specialises in finance and banking, commerce and industry, and IT and telecoms. It has offices in Singapore and India, as well as in the UK and Ireland.

But Bawany says taking a European approach to business on the other side of the globe won’t work. “There are fundamental differences between the economies of Europe and Asia. Everything is still very relationships-based in places such as Singapore and India.

“While values and clients are important, it’s all about individuals. Do they like you” Do they trust you” The importance of that can’t be underestimated.”

Bawany started the Singapore office from scratch; now it has a staff of 32 people. “The director who runs the office is originally from India but knows Singapore well. She understands the country, sector and cultural issues,” he notes.

In India, Bawany says the recruitment sector is in its infancy as candidates don’t yet trust recruiters. “Everyone accepts a job but you have to wait and see if they turn up on the Monday. Most people walk around with seven offers in their pocket – it’s a cultural thing.”

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