Q&A with Hong Kong-based private wealth expert Wisdom Hon

Wisdom Hon leads Ogier's Private Wealth team on the ground in Hong Kong, advising international wealthy families and trust companies on estate and succession planning, trust structuring, family governance, probate and estate administration. Wisdom is the only Chinese-speaking offshore private client lawyer in Asia recognised in the Private Client Global Elite. She is a finalist for Offshore Senior Associate of the Year in the 2020 Citywealth Future Leaders Awards. 

Why did you choose a career in law?

Law is actually my second career. After completing my degree in Quantitative Finance and Mathematics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, I joined international shipping firm Maersk as a trainee, rotating to different departments from counter service, to supply chain and IT. This gave me an understanding of how teams work together to achieve the same goal - delivering cargo seamlessly from east to west within a specified timeframe and budget.

Around a decade ago, a US lawyer sat next to me on a plane trip. We got chatting and shortly into the conversation he told me I should become a lawyer, planting the seed which ultimately led to me quitting my stable work in Hong Kong to study law in London - without knowing what my future would be!

I ultimately finished GDL at BPP with commendation and PCLL (the equivalent of LPC) at the University of Hong Kong with distinction, and then trained at a boutique private client law firm under the supervision of a professor who teaches estate planning at the University of Hong Kong. I then moved offshore to join the Ogier Private Wealth team in Hong Kong.

Tell us about your role at Ogier

I am Ogier's private wealth lead on the ground in Hong Kong.  My key role is to serve clients with needs across multiple jurisdictions. I advise on laws in BVI, Cayman Islands, Guernsey and Jersey alongside the global teams in those offices. 

While my practice focuses on family governance, cross-border estates and wealth structuring, I also advise on corporate and finance works as part of my private wealth practice to bring a one-stop service to our clients.  My responsibilities include getting new business, managing client relationships and promoting Ogier's brand in the region.

What is your approach to private wealth work?

My guiding principle is that private client work is about the individual. Every client is unique - there is no typical or standard client profile. I value the differences of each client. Technical expertise is essential, but being empathetic and taking care of the emotional side and non-legal concerns of my clients are equally important.

I draw on my cross-cultural perspective to advise both clients and colleagues. When working with Chinese families who are not familiar with the concept of a trust and who take a more traditional approach, it's important to have the cultural awareness to provide reassurance and solutions.

What are your passions outside work?

I started learning to play piano from scratch 2 years ago. I struggled in the beginning but since then I've developed my own style, notwithstanding the ticking sound from a metronome! No matter if the song is Mozart's minuet from Don Juan or Bizet's Habanera from Carmen, I play it like Beethoven's Romanze or Offenbach's Barcarolle from tales of Hoffmann. I play piano every morning for 15 minutes to start my day and a further hour in the evening to unwind after the working day.

I love learning new things, whether in a class or on my own – anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn. From attending various online courses to reading and listening to audio books, I follow my interests in positive psychology, guided imagery and even calligraphy.  I'm thrilled when I learn something new.