AIDAN FOSTER-CARTER: CONSULTANT ON KOREA
Consultancy is another string to my Korean bow, but not so far a major one. Loosely, everything I do is consulting - in that people consult me about Korea. But insofar as what I mostly do is write, the term analyst or country analyst would be more exact.
This isn't just what I do, but what I'm comfortable with. We all learn our strengths and weaknesses, some sooner than others. My strength is in writing, and in synthesis. By contrast, I have less aptitude or inclination for a related but different and equally valid activity: namely going out into the field to research a specific sector or topic. That is what I view as consultancy proper. If offered it I tend to demur, or suggest people who live in Seoul and so have better networks and local knowledge. Horses for courses.
Again, I should make it clear that the quantitative end of economic or financial analysis is not my forte. But I'm fine on qualitative economic topics, such as sectoral studies. And I am strong on political economy: seeing this as the essential lens through which to view what, if no longer Korea Inc, is still in every sense a mixed economy. Political and security issues are core concerns, including north-south and international relations. I also pay - and would urge - keen attention to social, cultural and demographic factors.
Hence I am very happy to consider any consultancy proposals that correspond to this profile. A fair amount of such work comes my way, almost all of it via intermediaries. While grateful as ever to all of these, the fact remains that I am a free agent as well - so new customers can cut out the middleman!
Here is a partial list of ultimate clients for whom I've done consulting in various forms:
Both form and content have been quite varied, which I like. Some were meetings: oral presentations or teleconferencing, addressing investor roadshows, and more. But most have revolved around writing reports. A select list of topics includes:
- Multinational companies: BHP, British Aerospace, British Gas, Caltex, Coca-Cola, KLM, Rio Tinto, Unilever
- Risk assessors, insurers, lawyers etc: Control Risks, Hiscox, Herbert Smith
- Banks, investment houses, etc: EBRD, Jardine Fleming, UBS, Newton
- Governments, etc: US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and others
The viability of particular Korean companies in the wake of the 1997-98 financial crisis
Sectoral studies, including healthcare, shipbuilding, energy, and retail
Reviews of the ROK's financial health, restructuring programme, and chaebol reforms
Economic nationalism and attitudes to foreign business and FDI.
Several studies of political / security risk (internal and external), long-run scenarios, etc
Evaluation of the progress of economic reform and enforceability of contracts
Advice on the real value of the DPRK won on a given date, for a compensation case
Please feel free to consult me about consulting on Korea!