Lawrence Ong is VP Finance, Asia Pacific, of West Unified Communications (formerly InterCall) Asia Pacific, a rapidly expanding arm of the world’s largest conferencing services provider. Operating in ten different countries through ten separate legal entities isn’t straightforward. Grant Thornton Australia’s internationally minded, responsive team supports West Unified Communications as they enter new markets, dealing swiftly with any issues encountered on the path to growth.
“As a medium-sized organisation we found tapping on the big accounting firms harder - we don’t share a common affinity. Grant Thornton is an organisation who shares our interests. They are willing to journey with us because they are going through the same thing.
We had a situation in India a couple of years ago. The work culture is pretty complicated and the country is highly regulated and challenging in terms of tax. As a business we felt we could apply our one-size-fits-all model but didn’t size up the finance and accounting resources we needed there properly. We got in a bit of a mess. Overnight, Grant Thornton turned around key advice. They put us front and centre, immediately galvanising their experts to come and help us — it was all super quick.
In China there are growth opportunities for West Unified Communications but, also growing pains. The telecommunications sector is highly regulated and under government scrutiny. Being foreign owned and trying to set-up shop there, we had to figure out how to navigate the regulatory requirements and the language barrier. Grant Thornton had people who rallied quickly, giving us advice on how to handle simple things like banking. Simple things add up — you’ve got to get them right, otherwise you get hauled up. We’ve got two Chinese companies and Grant Thornton helped us figure out how to join them together. It’s not as simple as just turning the switch off in one company and turning it back on in another.
My relationships with accounting firms had been very transactional until I was introduced to Grant Thornton. They’ve opened up a new way of looking at things. Grant Thornton’s people aren’t pushy; they’re not trying to sell me some template. They understand the client’s needs first, and judge the pace. There’s no ‘this is step one to ten’, when I don’t really need the first five. I trust them to give me the information I need.”
We also appreciate their international view across our businesses, both in terms of language and depth of local knowledge. Having a single contact is very important for me. Our Grant Thornton partner is very proactive, very client-centric and he shares the vision that we are growing together. It’s a mutual benefit.”
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