Law Council of Australia


Australia well placed to thrive in Asia’s knowledge economies, but competition is intensifying

Growing Knowledge Economies report reveals opportunities for Australian business to capitalise on surging demand for professional services in the region.

16 June 2016


Australian legal and management consulting firms are well-positioned to tap into growing opportunities in Asian markets, but a significant shift in mindsets and strategy is required, according to a new report launched by the CEO of Austrade, Bruce Gosper, in Melbourne today. 

The research, which calls on Australian professional services firms to act quickly to secure their competitive advantage in Asia, was conducted by Asialink Business, with support from Austrade. It reveals that while free trade agreements have opened new doors, and Australia’s expertise is well regarded throughout the region, businesses must compete to succeed in an increasingly crowded marketplace. 

“With rapid economic growth and burgeoning middle classes, quality services are in high demand throughout Asia,” the CEO of Asialink Business, Mukund Narayanamurti, said. 

“Australia’s free trade agreements, world class expertise in sectors like legal and management consulting, and strong reputation position our professional services firms well to capture these opportunities. But more needs to be done to maintain our first-mover advantage.” 

“Our research indicated that ‘fly-in fly-out’ (FIFO) models are often no longer effective. What’s needed is a long-term, strategic mindset and a significant increase in investment, both to establish a physical presence in Asia and to build business relationships,” Narayanamurti said. 

A first-of-its kind study, Growing Knowledge Economies provides in-depth insights into the specific opportunities, challenges and factors critical for success faced by Australian management consulting and legal services firms in four key Asian markets - Singapore, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. 

The report was released at a forum hosted by the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Services Roundtable. 

“The Australian legal profession is well regarded for its legal expertise and record of establishing collaborative and mutually beneficial business relationships with lawyers in Asia,” Stuart Clark AM, President, Law Council of Australia, said. “Every law firm has a unique value proposition that underpins the way it provides services to its clients – this report provides essential guidance on how to best communicate that proposition to potential clients in the region.” 

Alina Bain, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Services Roundtable said: “While circumstances differ in each market, and on the whole, the opportunities are promising, Australian professional services firms often do face multiple challenges relating to understanding local culture and regulations, attracting and retaining talent and getting your brand recognised.” 

The research, which was based on qualitative interviews with Australian professionals based in the four target markets, identified a critical need to continue to build the Asia capabilities of the Australian professional services sector. While the research found that Australian expertise was well suited to growing Asia’s knowledge economies, building Asia capabilities in our professional services firms was a key to success. 


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