Platinum Financial Services
Celebrating 15 Years Together

Message from Mark Kirkham

CEO & Founder

On 1st October 2007, there were five of us, five founders in Hong Kong, and in 2022, four remain active on a day-to-day basis, and despite our many wrinkles, our energy levels are still impressive. Platinum Financial Services, a member of the Business Class Group, has grown over the last 15 years and now has representatives and offices in Hong Kong, Thailand, Beijing, and Shanghai in China and the United Kingdom.

Everyone at Business Class Group wishes to express sincere thanks to our loyal clients for their trust and support over the past 15 years, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation to the next milestone.

Thank you!

The Vision of a Better Tomorrow

Platinum, Lifestyle, and all of the Business Class Group’s companies were born after nearly 20 years of my own and other founders’ personal financial services experience in the UK and offshore. When establishing the companies, the overwhelming vision and number one objective, both of which remain key drivers today, was to create a financial services company that was different in how it approached the long and often complex financial journeys that clients undertake.

Clients, Not the Paychecks

Plenty of companies claim to be different. Having witnessed the industry from the inside and having had the opportunity of working with some industry movers and shakers, I know that clients are not always made the priority. I could see gaping holes and considerable voids in product lines and service standards and thought that I could do a better job than I was allowed to do when shackled to a set of the paymaster’s rules.

From the client’s perspective, I did not like all of the rules or believe in their purpose and didn’t want to compromise my own values and ethical standards any longer.

Platinum Financial Services is Born

I was confident in my abilities and those founders around me on day one who remained close, loyal, and committed to the cause. I knew that if we threw away the rule book and started again, we could better take care of clients and accommodate their ever-changing needs.

Fifteen years on, my assessment is that it is not always easy but worth the work! The industry has improved all around, making us work even harder to set ourselves apart. Our clients are always informed not only of the benefits but potential drawbacks of the services or products we offer.

We didn’t set out to be the biggest; we set out to be a boutique operation that stands by its clients and delivers with honesty and integrity. We have proudly done so for 15 years and look forward to another 15 years of service.

Expansion that creates friendships  

Soon after the Hong Kong formation, I was asked to help a friend who ran a competing business in Thailand. A year or so after my monthly trips to Bangkok, he decided that he wanted out of the business and offered it to BCG. The mission of saving our new business in Bangkok resembled a road to hell and back several times over in the next 5 years, but we didn’t shy away from any inherited responsibilities and Business Class Asia is now a leading provider of expat services in Bangkok and Hua Hin.  

There were three phenomenal things that came out of Bangkok acquisition; three people who were working in the Thailand business and who had similar beliefs and visions to my own. This was a match made in heaven, and those three friendships alone made all the pain worthwhile. I owe a lot to one of those friendships and for what I learned about running a successful business. I found not only a business but also some true mentors in Bangkok.  

Sadly, Neil passed away 2 years ago in his early 70’s and I will never forget him for his calm and unflappable demeaner and also because he was just so knowledgeable following his distinguished career in a big four accountancy firm. I knew lots about ‘the business’ 15 years ago but knew little about how to ‘run a business’. I had some ideas of how not to run a business from my experiences and observing others, but I learnt so much from him and will be eternally grateful to him for what he taught me during that 10-year stint of working closely together. Thankfully the other two are still very much alive and kicking, very influential and remain active in the business on a day-to-day basis. 

Within a couple of years, we had the backbone of a BCG management team which has been added to and strengthened but hasn’t changed significantly over the period. The stability, loyalty and respect for each other has meant that the difficult times are made easier because of the support and genuine concern shown by all. The good times are made even better by observing the solidarity and togetherness of an incredibly gifted and hardworking decision-making team.  

That team has helped to get our proposition to a place that very few others have achieved anywhere in the world. BCG is unrivalled because nobody does things quite the way we do. On the flip side our thirteen operating brands have many rivals, so we strive to compete with the biggest and the best, companies which often have a much greater brand awareness, huge capital resources and marketing teams to invest into finding the best people they can to implement systems and processes. 

I am sure that everybody in the BCG team could find bigger roles and greater remuneration than they enjoy now, but it’s impossible to put a price on the relationships we have and the working environment we worked tirelessly to create. Everybody is empowered and their ideas and suggestions are not just listened to but also heard. We sometimes might not see eye to eye on things, but we remain humble and pragmatic when it comes to progress, thankfully there are no egos that are bigger than our objectives.  

After forming BCG as the parent company to house Platinum Financial Services and Lifestyle Brokers, next came the initial joint venture in Thailand, which became a full-blown acquisition and integration, followed by the opening of a Platinum Representative office in Shanghai. With Hong Kong as HQ and Bangkok & Shanghai as fully operational offices, there was no immediate desire to expand our reach in the short term. However, an opportunity in Moscow presented itself, but as the old saying goes, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. The start of the original Russia/Ukraine issues came to light soon after and with them a 50% devaluation of the Rouble. This meant the project wasn’t sustainable, so it was shelved to protect the group. The only further expansion into new locations to follow since has been the UK which was led by marketing requirements and a rush for the exits by many Asia based expats who repatriated during the Covid pandemic.  

With the management and locations in place, the new specialty brands and with them the broadening of our proposition closely followed. It made sense that if you have an investment advisory business and a mortgage broking business that you would come across clients with insurance and property requirements. Enter Lifestyle Insurance and both the local property Lifestyle Property units in Hong Kong and Bangkok as well as Lifestyle Property International.  

Then followed Business Class Asia, our non-HK sales and marketing operation along with the Discretion Wealth Management brand, our recognition for a need to rally and stand with the LGBT community committed to diversity and inclusion.  

After regulatory approval for general insurance, investment linked, and mandatory provident funds licences in Hong Kong, a money lenders licence followed, all issued by Government agencies. We acquired a Remax Property franchise to complement Lifestyle Property Bangkok, won some substantial contracts with leading regional travel agencies to provide exclusive travel insurance services to their clients before expansion into the fiduciary world with our Soteria and Hestia Trusts brands. We formed two of our own pension schemes in Hong Kong which were followed a few years later by another in Guernsey.  

Soteria and our tax planning work have taken some of us down an unfamiliar path, but it has really helped us become a much more complete and rounded operation. That was further complemented and improved by Hestia and the acquisition of Certainty Estate Planners in 2020, a UK advisory firm specialising in Wills, trusts and estate planning, all of which has been achieved in what seems like 15 short years. 

For now, we have plenty to keep us busy and we continue to improve the quality of our people, proposition and services whenever we can. I said at outset that we wanted to be different, and I don’t just think that, I know we are, and for all the right reasons. Those reasons are the 2,500 + clients who have placed their trust in us whilst on their own financial journeys. 

It takes a special type of person to be successful at BCG, not all advisers are made equal, there are many talented people in the industry and there are also many lazy people. The main differences between the two are attitude and desire, some advisers go the extra mile and care about their clients, and they are very much at home within the BCG environment where we will actively encourage them to grow by continuing to support their development and achievements. We haven’t mastered everything yet, nor by any stretch of the imagination got anything 100% right, but we remain on track and strive to do so. We have crammed over 200 years of collective management experience into 15 years of operation and achieved a great deal, but in truth we’ve only just begun. Our energy levels remain good, our awareness and judgement of developing services and client requirements remain on point and our core values and ethics remain unwavering.  

Who knows what the future holds, but the future for the Business Class Group, its clients, brands, advisers, administrators, and all associated with it remains bright, and I look forward to revealing the next chapters of our growth and development when the time is right. For now, it’s happy 15th birthday to BCG, Platinum & Lifestyle and then it’s business as usual. We raise a glass to absent friends and to those skilled and dedicated individuals who are very much still with us, and with a great sense of pride and admiration for our achievements, congratulations to everyone for this amazing creation!   

Corporate Services

Solutions for easy and tax-efficient management locally, with a global perspective

Platinum Financial Services offers a wide range of corporate solutions helping to satisfy a wide range of protection, employee retention and admin needs of a modern company. Our services include group insurance solutions, MPF fund allocation advice and group retirement plans to help you retain talent and run your company smoothly.

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