John Barclay, Founder of Primasia Corporate

Inspired by Elvis, John Barclay is helping businesses succeed throughout Asia.
What’s your story?
I became an accountant and travelled the world. When I stopped, I found myself in Hong Kong, having arrived here with a suitcase and a carry-on bag. I never used my return ticket.

What excites you most about your industry?
Our industry is all industries. Our clients conduct business in every sphere imaginable. I genuinely enjoy meeting new clients, keeping up to date with existing clients and learning what they are doing. I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them succeed and knowing I have helped them in a small way excites me.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I first came to Hong Kong as a tourist in 1981 but the event which drew me to Asia was taking part in the first western audit in 1984 in Guangzhou China with British Petroleum.
Everything in China was new then, or should I say old? Everything was done in cash; suppliers came to the office for advance (cash) payment, foreigners had to use FEC (foreign exchange certificates) and people stopped to stare at foreigners in the street.
I later had short term assignments with BP in Thailand and Indonesia, before moving to Hong Kong (and Shanghai) in the nineties.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong – because it works. Transport, private companies, even the government are efficient and responsive. There is a real service ethos and work ethic. It’s business first, smiles second.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When you seem to have too many problems to solve at once, ask yourself which of them will matter in a year’s time and deal with those first.

Who inspires you?

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That it is almost impossible to enforce a debt in Texas.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would work harder on learning Chinese.

How do you unwind?
Rowing, reading and talking to my cats.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taipei. Good food, friendly and smart people, fewer tourists.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Get Things Done, by Robert Kelsey

Shameless plug for your business:
We put service first. We are not the cheapest but we aim to provide value for money on a no surprises basis. If everyone wanted cheap, Mercedes would be out of business.

How can people connect with you?
Via LinkedIn, e-mail or phone (; +852 35880000 [D]; +852 91971471 [M])

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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