Have you found yourself in a personal admin rut? During our time as expats, we can be faced with more admin tasks than usual, plus many of us are running SMEs from home. It’s a lot. So, if you’re struggling to stay on top of tasks like tax returns (for multiple countries) and personal document filing, you’re not alone. Then there are the day-to-day struggles like synchronising a business or household tech.
That’s why we love problem solver Caroline B. Her discreet service provides intelligent help to better organise your business and personal life. She helps a lot of business owners while they’re in, and away from, Hong Kong. Caroline Basham started her career in Hong Kong as an investment banker. These days, she’s putting her financial skills to use as a personal concierge trusted by many expats to help them sort their personal administration while in Hong Kong.
We chatted with Caroline recently about what she offers and who she helps.
What is personal management?
The best way to describe personal management is like a concierge service, but much more personal and customised. For a start, we’re independent, acting in the client’s best interests and not driven by promoting other’s services or products.
Then, there is the actual scope of services: clients are often surprised at the range of things we can do, big and small. At one end, we can help navigate a client through the whole process of selecting the right international school, to visa and passport applications, to simply sorting and scanning the mail while they’re away.
What we do is often very “hands on” and the service is tailored to your needs, no matter how small. Just a few examples of things we do: running around Hong Kong fetching and carrying between storage centres, shops, homes and offices; managing home repairs; managing appointments and bookings; making travel arrangements; processing expenses and other book-keeping matters; sourcing items (anywhere!) and gift ideas, storage solutions and decluttering, helping manage domestic helpers, before, during and after signing a contract.
We do a lot of work integrating home audio visual systems, improving WIFI and internet connections. Our technical manager loves this sort of challenge!
What are some of the more unusual jobs you’ve done?
We’ve done a lot of interesting things over the years, like shipping pedigree cats to London, creating typhoon protection netting for a vertical green wall, and sourcing fresh kimchi direct from Korea!
Over the years, we’ve built up a well of knowledge as to how best to tackle seemingly impossible tasks.
As a busy businesswoman yourself, managing the lives of your clients, how do you stay on top of everything you need to do?
Thankfully, we’re not a 24/7 operation so I do get most evenings off! Personally, I am constantly trying to keep life as simple as possible. I have more-or-less gone paperless and don’t take on every offer of work.
Who are Caroline B’s typical clients?
Caroline B clients are organised, good at delegating and understand the value of their time. They also value our local language advantage, Hong Kong know-how, and experience of how to get things done effectively.
Our small business clients are entrepreneurial and need to stay productive and focused on developing their businesses. So, for them, Caroline B becomes their back office. The main attraction of using us is they achieve a continuity and scope of service required that might prove impossible with a single PA – and clients value the confidentiality and privacy that we offer.
Ultimately, it’s about trust – building that relationship with a client where they trust you to do the right thing,
See more in our Living in Hong Kong section.