When a Hong Kong barrister becomes a super tutor
Oxford graduate Joseph Lam Chok, also the former boyfriend of 2015 Miss Hong Kong winner Louisa Mak, seals 10-year Beacon College deal for an undisclosed sum
Not every fresh-faced youngster has made their millions in the hi- tech world. Outside property and finance, education has become an emerging and extremely profitable business in Hong Kong.
Take the case of Joseph Lam Chok, an Oxford graduate who quit his high-paid job as a barrister after less than two years and is poised to switch careers as an English tutor.
In an agreement reminiscent of a football player signing up with a major club, Lam signed a 10-year deal with Beacon College as a star tutor and overseas education consultant for an undisclosed sum of money.
“Honestly, I am very ambitious,” Lam told a local daily. “I have a big plan in mind.”
Lam is not a stranger to entertainment news readers in Hong Kong as he is the former boyfriend of 2015 Miss Hong Kong winner Louisa Mak. He was reportedly approached by some film directors for casting.
The 27 year-old is also a member of the “Path of Democracy,” a moderate political group established by Ronny Tong Ka-wah, former Civic Party lawmaker. Lam failed to win a seat in the District Council election in 2015.
The law and philosophy graduate became the second high-profile hire for Beacon College, which had in 2005 filed for an initial public offering on Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, but scrapped it in May 2016.
Beacon is believed to have paid more than HK$100 million (US$12.88 million) over three years to its popular Chinese-language teacher Lam Yat-yan, according to the 2005 public filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
That whopping salary package dwarfs most executives in blue-chip companies who are looking after billions of dollars in business, but perhaps a fraction of what those in tuition can make.
Interestingly enough, Hong Kong has an admirable school system, especially near the top end but, despite this, local parents are willingly or rather unwillingly signing their children up for tutorial classes.
It is hard to resist this practice of after-school tutorials, which has dominated for three decades and has become a favorite choice as an extracurricular activity.
That perhaps explains why tutor Lam Yat-yan single-handedly contributed 40% of HK$325 million in turnover in a nine-month period ending in 2015.
In 2005, Beacon’s IPO plan was thwarted after its fiercest rival Modern Education made a high-profile open offer of HK$85 million to lure Lam to join its company.
Modern Education’s campaign of newspaper advertisements raised the stakes, pressuring Beacon and highlighted its reliance on a single tutor . In the end Beacon abandoned its listing plans.
Now with the second Lam on board at Beacon, we can expect the IPO to be back in the picture and a fresh group of millionaires in the pipeline.
As long as Hong Kong parents religiously continue to send their children to tutorial centers.