Kristina Koehler-Coluccia – Head of Business Advisory at Woodburn Accountants & Advisors

Kristina Koehler-Coluccia has dedicated her professional life to understanding local and national business regulations in China and Hong Kong and passing that knowledge on to foreign companies contemplating investment there.

What’s your story?

My name is Kristina. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. In 2003 I joined my father’s company and relocated to Shanghai to open our first China subsidiary in 2004. Since then I have helped over 500 international companies enter the Hong Kong and China market in a variety of industries and sectors.

What excites you most about your industry?

We are in the corporate services sector offering advisory, compliance and administrative services to foreign investors upon entering the Hong Kong and China market. In China the regulations regularly change which means one has to be updated consistently in order to advise clients. And I love advising companies in a variety of sectors from a variety of jurisdictions. Everyday is completely different.

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What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?

My belief is that, from a legal and tax standpoint, China is one of the more complicated jurisdictions to enter. There are also language and cultural barriers. As such it is important that companies, leaders and entrepreneurs are educated on market entry in order to be able to focus on growth. Knowledge is power in China. This is why I am driven to provide this coaching and education to foreign investors.

What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?

Patience was one of the first skills I learned and discovered in China. The laws are grey and as such there is room for interpretation by everyone. Each city has it own internal implementation guidelines which also makes it difficult. It is not always unified.  Being based in Shanghai is important, enabling me to educate my clients on doing business in China and one of the first skills I encourage them to have is patience.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

The best advice came from my marketing coach who told me at the beginning of 2020 to remain at the top of people’s minds and market as much as possible about investment into China. It was the best thing that could have happened in such a year where I truly thought we would win zero clients. By the end of the year I was on top of people’s minds as we acquired the budgeted amount of clients and revenue. It was a remarkable end to the year.

Who inspires you?

In a year of tremendous negativity towards China I have been focusing on remaining in touch with peers who are positive about China. The two individuals who come to mind are Ashley Dudarenok from Chozan and David Thomas from China Bites. They truly inspire and motivate people to remain positive about China.

What have you learnt recently that blew you away?

2020 has been a year of being blown away. I would not even know where to begin with this. My impression in 2020 was that no new investors would enter the Chinese market. Surprisingly by the year-end we acquired the same amount of clients that we had budgeted for in an 8 week time frame. Interest is still there and positive feelings towards the market have been regained.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

I am fortunate as I do have my time again. We sold our previous company and have started once again which has offered a fresh beginning. The biggest thing I have done differently this time around is focus on fewer employees, but more qualified and mature individuals instead.

How do you unwind?

I go for long walks to clear my head and spend time with my kids.

What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?

The biggest belief shift is that as China is modernizing, corporate service providers are no longer really needed. A lot of the compliance work can be done in-house. But what foreign investors need is advisory help from individuals that have long-term experience in the market to advise and assist them in remaining legally compliant but also to help them focus on growing their business.

Everyone in business should read this book:

There is no specific book on our industry. There are research reports on the corporate services sector but nothing specific in terms of books. I have written an e-book on “the 10 biggest mistakes companies make in China”.


Shameless plug for your business:

We provide our clients with continuous education and monthly conversations to focus them on growth in the Chinese market. Our aim is communication and education continuously and consistently for our clients.

How can people connect with you?

WeChat ID: kncoluccia leads to our WeChat China Roadmap Community
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