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Walking The Talk: Insights From Company Secretarial Veteran Belinda Wong

posted 1 month ago

Belinda Wong is a veteran corporate services professional and celebrated author. As the Director of Leader Corporate Services Limited (Leader), she has over 30 years of extensive experience advising local and multinational corporations on company secretarial matters. Her interview provides an inside look at her inspirational journey, which took her from working at Big 4 firms to launching her successful consultancy in 2010.

  • Can you walk us through the key milestones in your career that led you to your current position as the Director of Leader Corporate Services Limited?

In 1997, while employed at Price Waterhouse, one of the Big 6 audit firms, a merger with Coopers & Lybrand was announced, forming one of the Big 5 professional services firms. My team transitioned under new leadership from our merger partners. Years later, our corporate services department integrated former Andersen personnel when Arthur Andersen collapsed due to the Enron scandal.

In 2003, our entire team was acquired by a bank-led holding company. Two years later, I departed and joined several international law firms before founding my own company, Leader Corporate Services Limited, in 2010.

Foreseeing career instability during that tumultuous period, I proactively pursued professional development through training courses and certifications from the Hong Kong Institute of Directors and the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute to enhance my marketability.

Today, I am a Fellow Member of both prestigious bodies.

  • As the owner of Leader Corporate Services Limited, what valuable insights have you gained about entrepreneurship and company secretarial services?

Entrepreneurial ventures and corporate secretarial services are built upon self-discipline and skilled management. Entrepreneurs must embody integrity, technical prowess, and exceptional interpersonal abilities to steer their enterprises. A clear vision for the future, tempered by restraint on personal avarice, ensures all stakeholders receive equitable treatment.

Company secretarial services ensure clients meet all corporate and legal requirements. Prioritizing clients’ best interests forms the bedrock of service, complemented by technical excellence and superior customer service acumen.

Simply put, everyone must walk the talk.

  • Could you share a specific challenge you faced in your career and the steps you took to overcome it?

The corporate world was upended in March 2014 when Hong Kong enacted its massive new Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622) (CO) – the longest legislation on our books. As an experienced company secretary, I knew we would all need to adapt quickly as legal concepts shifted and new forms were introduced.

Thankfully, I was commissioned to write a new edition of the Company Secretary’s Practice Manual. While a daunting task, analyzing the entire ordinance line-by-line proved invaluable. Not only could I author an authoritative practice guide, but I gained intimate knowledge of the revised compliance regulations for advising clients.

  • Could you share a key concept or advice from your book, “Hong Kong Company Secretary Practice Manual 5th Edition,” that you believe is essential for business professionals? 

Integrity is of utmost importance! The CO specifies the rights and obligations of members as well as the fiduciary duties of directors. The requirement to appoint auditors and circulation to all members of the financial statements issued by the auditors is to ensure that companies incorporated under the CO are conducted in a transparent and law-abiding way.

Good governance also involves treating all stakeholders, i.e., employees, suppliers, consumers, and the environment, properly. Authoring a comprehensive practice manual necessitated deep research, fostering an intimate understanding of the corporate governance principles underlying the regulations.

Company secretarial practice is more than just completing and submitting specified forms to the government authority. It involves advising clients on how to comply with corporate and other laws. When there are disputes between directors and/or members, company secretaries are requested to advise on the corporate law and to sit in the meetings. The foremost requirement is to understand why the dispute comes up. What are the points of view and interests of the different parties? How could the relevant sections of the CO and the constitution and/or shareholder agreement address the issues?

In hindsight, many disputes could have been avoided if parties had acted with consideration for others and stringent rule adherence.

  • How has your involvement in the SME and Taxation Committees of the HK General Chamber of Commerce influenced your perspective on Hong Kong’s business landscape?

Senior officials are invited to discuss various government policies and practices during the first part of the committee meetings. Clients can be updated on the business / legal environments. Members of the SME committee are from different industries. When clients need other services, e.g., office leasing, staff recruitment, or others,  members are the source of referrals. The Taxation Committee focuses not only on the Hong Kong taxation regime but also on expected changes in line with the global tax initiatives initiated by the OECD (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and EU (European Union) are also discussed. The information can alert clients to structure their operations.

She is also an active member of The Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong, which has many members in different manufacturing industries. Proper advice and guidance can be obtained when doing business in China.

  • Looking back at your journey, what advice would you passionately share with young professionals aspiring to venture into corporate services and business consulting?

My advice is threefold:

  1. Widen the vision and knowledge of the commercial world!
  2. Prioritize maintaining your health through good exercise!
  3. Always be prepared for change!

First published on: https://globalleaderstoday.online/walking-the-talk-insights-from-company-secretarial-veteran-belinda-wong/

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