Former Chief China Economist for the Royal Bank of Scotland and J.P. Morgan
Ben Simpfendorfer is Founder and CEO of Silk Road Associates. Ben has worked in Asia and the Middle East for the past 20 years. He advises a range of Fortune 500 multinationals on their commercial strategies in Asia, providing global boards and regional strategy teams with data-based solutions into fast-moving markets and value-chains. His extensive specialist networks add further insights into today’s key operating challenges.
Before establishing Silk Road Associates in 2010, Ben spent over a decade tracking China’s business landscape as Chief China economist for RBS and senior China economist for JPMorgan based in Hong Kong. He started his career in Beirut during the early 1990s where he worked as a management consultant, later joining Dun & Bradstreet based in London as the firm’s Senior Analyst for the Middle East & North Africa assessing commercial and political risk.
Ben speaks Mandarin and Arabic. He is author of The Rise of the New East (Palgrave: 2014), examining commercial opportunities and complexities in the Asia market, and The New Silk Road (Palgrave: 2009), exploring China’s commercial ties with the Middle East. The book is translated into six languages including simplified and traditional Chinese. He appears regularly on CNBC, Bloomberg, and CNN, and his editorials have been published by the FT and WSJ.
Ben has delivered keynotes and CEO briefings worldwide. He is a member of the Foreign Experts Committee providing policy recommendations to China’s central leadership on the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative under the auspices of SAFEA. He is Co-Chairman of the China Business Committee for the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He also sits on the advisory board of the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) in Hong Kong.
China's new Silk Road Strategy--Plans to rebuild the historic trade route have rightly captured headlines, but it is the private sector that matters
China’s President Xi Jinping has leveraged one of the world’s most powerful brands by promising to build a new Silk Road. His commitment to fund $40 billion worth of Silk Road infrastructure projects is an important first step in this plan. Nevertheless, it is China’s commercial sector that will ultimately determine the policy’s success, led by nimble private companies.
The World's Processed Food Bowl--The maturing of Asia's processed food industry is one of the region's most overlooked developments
Asia is known for its electronics exports, but foreign brand owners and modern trade retailers are also increasingly buying from the region's contract food manufacturers. Asia's own growing appetite for premium food products is meanwhile fuelling the rise of local champions.
What Next for MNCs in China?--Foreign CEOs talk of a China that is growing, but also growing in complexity
Silk Road Associates recently co-authored a report with KPMG examining the prospects for multinationals (MNCs) in China. The report includes interviews with 14 regional CEOs and other senior executives at some of the world's leading companies on China's commercial outlook.
Tapping Muslim Markets--Most MNCs have a China or India strategy. But few have a strategy to tap the Muslim world
Many companies overlook the opportunities of the Muslim world's 1.6 billion consumers. That's a pity given that scale of the opportunity. Selling to Muslim consumers is also about more than halal-compliant products. Even simple tweaks to marketing campaigns can achieve results.
China's Shop Window--How Hong Kong has helped the world's brand owners develop their China brand recognition
For smaller brand owners, it can be a challenge developing brand recognition in China's large and fragmented markets. Hong Kong has established itself as China's shop window, receiving 41 million Chinese tourists annually. But commercial strategies are changing fast as retail rents rise.
"Ben is a thorough and totally involved observer of matters Eastern with an ability to articulate his thoughts clearly both orally and, as in this case, in a totally unstuffy, readable and informative book. A tireless traveler with an enquiring economist's mind, he shines because of his ability to cross cultural and language barriers with an ease I have yet to find in others."
- | David Eldon, former Chairman of HSBC Asia Pacific
"We were thrilled with the value which Ben brought to our meeting. His materials and presentation were extremely relevant and right on point. He had a style and presentation which was appropriate to and comfortable for our audience. He left us with a lot to think about."
- | Bemis Associates