Ascend Advisors helps foreign investors and expatriates – navigate the opportunities and challenges the Thai economy offers. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Dell Asuncion of Ascend Advisors details what opportunities and challenges exist in Thailand for foreign investors, his role with the firm, and his background in legal services.
What is Ascend Advisors?
Ascend Advisors Co., Ltd., based in Bangkok, Thailand was established to assist foreign investors or expats in Thailand. We are a one-stop-shop legal service provider which also include HR Recruitment, Accounting, Payroll and Serviced Offices.
As an international law office, our areas of specialties are:
Civil law; Criminal Law; Family Law; Commercial Law; Commercial/Business Law; Narcotics; Contracts; Marketing Agreements; Immigration; Corporation; Patents/Trademarks/Copyright; Estates; Damages; Adoption; Child Protection; Foreign Claims; Child Custody; Marriage/Divorce; Foreign Investments; Parental Child Abduction; Tax; Government Relations; Labor Relations; Human Rights
Auto/Accidents; Certified Translator; Notary Public
Imaging this. We set up your company, provide you with the skilled staff, take care of your visa and work permit, handle your taxation, draft agreements and if you land in a legal quagmire, we are there to assist. And if you start a family here, we can help you register your marriage at the district office, draft a Pre-Nup and a Last Will and Testament.
What is your role with Ascend?
Currently, I am the business director of the Corporate and Legal Division. I have 15 years’ experience in the field which enables me to give comprehensive advice. For company registration, for example, I can explain the process from the initial steps of company incorporation to applying for relevant licenses, visa, work permit and taxation.
I am focused on Business Development and providing consultancy.
What led you to a career providing legal and business services?
The first job I had in a law firm was customer service and most of our clients at that time were foreigners who wanted to start a business here as well as expats who permanently live here, and retirees. From there, I gained knowledge of the ins and outs of this business. I saw the need of clients for proper legal guidance on how to start life in Thailand. Being an expat myself, I can relate well to the concerns and apprehension about being in a foreign land. Will the law protect me? Am I legally compliant? Some questions that run around in the mind of foreigners living here. This where Ascend Advisors enters the scenario. Our goal is to provide quality legal assistance to those who need it.
What are the opportunities and challenges in Thailand that businesses owners should be most aware of?
In recent months, I see the rise of software development businesses (apps), e-commerce, logistics, import-export and payment gateways. I believe e-commerce still has a lot of legroom. Based on recent lists of approved projects under BOI (Board of Investment Promotion), Housing projects for Low-income earners is evidently increasing.
Mostly, the challenges would include having the right company structure. The best option for foreigner’s who would like to have 100% ownership of the company is through BOI. One main benefit of why this is appealing to many is because of tax holidays for at least 5 years that can be extended to another 3 years. Imported machineries is exempted from duty fee.
For US citizens or companies, they have the option to set up a company under the provision of Thai-US Amity Treaty and own it 100%.
If the above are not feasible, the challenge would be finding the right Thai investors/partner to form a Thai company.
Staffing is also a concern to look into. A company must seek to earn the loyalty of the staff so that they work in the company long term. A colleague of mine closed his company — and the reason was that he did not have the manpower he needed to continue to operate his business.
Immigration procedures in Thailand is one of the hassles. One common comment I hear is that: “the rules keep changing”.
Overall, I still see Thailand as having lots of potential for businesspeople and expats alike. Thailand is a business hub in South East Asia with easy access to emerging markets such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
With regards to its people, their hospitality is unparalleled and they are competent in their respective areas of expertise. And finally, the food is amazing.