Perspective, distance and why business still requires face to face meetings


Having recently relocated to Singapore to set up my firm’s first office in Asia, I have been rather quiet on the blogging front recently. This post serves as something of a reboot – the blog will continue with its theme of the intersection of business, law and regulation in the telecoms and technology sectors but in addition to continued coverage of the UK and Europe will have an increasingly Asian focus.

It has been an interesting time to be in the region with President Obama spending far more time at the APEC  and ASEAN summits that I can ever recall him spending at European meetings and with the US administration signalling a ‘pivot towards Asia’ in their policy focus. With the current turmoil continuing in Europe (and the Eurozone in particular), whilst the mood here is not wildly optimistic, I perceive that there is a quiet confidence that global growth over the medium term will be driven from the region, both from the powerhouses of China and India, and also from countries in the ASEAN group such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.  Whilst some of the immediate press headlines highlight the fall in growth rates in the region, with Hong Kong fearing recession, from the perspective of a newly arrived European what is most noticeable is the can-do positive business outlook, which contrasts sharply with attitudes in Europe.

It is now 16 years since Frances Cairncross’ original economist 1995 article and subsequent 1997 book,  ‘The Death of Distance’. Whilst it is certainly true that developments in technology and communications infrastructure have vastly changed the  communications, broadcasting and media industries and that (as I can attest) people are far more mobile, it has also been striking that despite easy access to video-conferencing and other communications tools that people (or at least those who give lawyers work!) are still hard-wired to do business with people that they have met, know and trust. Whilst I continue to work with clients in the Europe, it seems that there is no substitute for getting out and meeting people face to face if you want to do business with them. The good news is that once you have established a relationship, all the various communications methods make it much easier to keep that relationship alive and to stay in touch.

About Rob Bratby

Telecommunications, media and technology lawyer advising companies across Europe and Asia
This entry was posted in ASEAN, China, EU, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Telecoms, Thailand and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Perspective, distance and why business still requires face to face meetings

  1. Pingback: Doing Asia Business with Face | E RADAR

  2. chris whiddon says:

    agree rob that f2f contact can be best for relationship building though i am still a big advocate of video conferencing and technology. I am still amazed when i hear i flew to russia, brazil etc for a 1 day (or 3 hours in reality) meeting especially feom those in the finance industry who bemoan profitability but
    get rock star compensation. It is about finding a happy medium with a lot of short and transactional type businesa meetings best auited
    get rock star compensation. It is about finding a happy medium with a lot of short and transactional type business meetings best suited to video but relationships move to another level with face to face contact which then makes the video side more productive

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