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Over A Cup Of Coffee With Simon Collier

virtual secretary indonesiaJune 30/2011,

Being able to meet my clients personally would definitely be one of the most valued moments in my life,  since working as a virtual assistant made it nearly impossible for me to meet them as most of them are based abroad. It would really be nice to see face to face the person whom I am working with, the one I’m spending time chatting, brainstorming and sharing great stories and ideas. Most of all, I am thankful to finally meet the person who have taught me to never give up on work and motivates me to achieve my goal.

The last day of June 2011 at the lobby of Kempinsky Hotel, Jakarta was surely a moment worth remembering and worth sharing since that was the time I met Simon Collier, he’s one of my clients in the online business. I am so grateful that he spent some time to see me. We had a nice time chatting and he discussed the project that he’s about to assign me for the next two months. He was great, smiling face and he has a very nice personality.

Simon is currently working as Managing Director for Sondent Group (HK) Ltd. The company specializes in providing consulting services that are focused on operations and product development in the securities, custody, fund and wealth platform industries. Their expertise includes work with global custodians, sub-custodians, fund administrators, broker-dealers, mutual funds, investment advisors and technology firms. He’s a US citizen born in UK. He travels a lot from time to time to US, Europe and Asia including Indonesia. His business visit to Indonesia has always been arranged by one of the biggest banks in the country.

“One thing I will never forget about Simon, he has NEVER assigned an EASY project, LOL! It’s always difficult! I nearly gave up when doing his first project, but he never let me quit.” Let’s just put it this way, I learn new things the HARD way! LOL! But, I am forever thankful for all the knowledge I have gained on the tasks that he’s assigning me.

During our conversation, he also mentioned he’s surprised to find someone from Indonesia to work as a virtual assistant. He’s been to Indonesia for a couple of times, but never found anyone that seems familiar with the virtual assistant job or something like that.

“Virtual assistant as a profession is quite common in United States. Many people decide to work at home and become freelancers. Either it is small or big companies, we got used to hire freelancer service as in some way it’s proven to be an effective solution for the business.” said Simon.

“I really think it’s a smart move to have your own business at home. You can work anytime you want, choose who you prefer to work with and select what kinds of projects you would like to get involved in. This is the best solution for a stay at home mom who previously worked but wishes to continue her career while giving quality time taking care of her kids.

I do agree! I am a proud mom and a career woman in my own way, and being a virtual assistant is one of the best decisions that I have ever made!




virtual secretary indonesia

Simon Collier short biography:

25 years experience in the securities industry and is the founder of Sondent Group, a consulting company specializing in the investment administration and custody space, including: product management; technology & operations; and, complex outsourcing arrangements. He has undertaken numerous projects in the US and Asia, and has extensive experience in China. Before starting Sondent, he served as President of Fore side Financial Group – a US fund services company. He also served as Treasurer or President of a number of US Mutual Fund companies. Prior to this, he was a Managing Director and COO of Citigroup’s Securities and Fund Services business and has also held various management positions within the securities services businesses of Chase Manhattan Bank and HSBC.




Benefits of Hiring a VA

How Will You Benefit in Hiring a Virtual Assistant?

The modernization of technology together with the prevalent usage of internet has created a leap on the demand for virtual assistants. Whether you are a business owner or an employee, you may hire a VA for the ease of managing your hectic schedule and minimizing your work load while focusing on your main priorities.  Here are some benefits that you can have when hiring a VA.

Cost friendly

–You can live within your budget. You can discuss arrangements with your VA on how many hours per day he/she will work and the terms of payment that will be convenient for both of you. You can also have her/him work on a part time or full time basis depending on your needs.

Less responsibility

-Hiring a VA is a cost effective way of resolving your staffing needs with less liability. You do not need to shoulder legal responsibilities such as taxes, employee benefits, compliance issues and insurance. You pay based on the hours worked or the agreed contract fee. No more, no less.

Save time and effort

You can delegate time consuming tasks to your VA so you can have plenty of time focusing on running your business. You do not need to do everything on your own in handling your personal errands since your VA could act as your personal assistant as well.

Immediate assessment and decision making

The length of service would be based on your discretion. If you are not satisfied with your VA’s performance and did not meet your expectations, you can terminate or end the contract anytime.

Diversity of workload

You do not need additional manpower in order to get various tasks done. VA’s do not only provide secretarial services but also manage to handle other tasks that may be assigned from time to time. VA is flexible in handling wide array of workloads depending on her/his credentials and work experience.

Quick process

– Hiring a VA is simple since everything can be accomplished online. It does not require long process of application since interview can be done in minutes and commence work immediately.


– You do not need to look for location and facilities. You don’t have to worry about other additional expenses such as office rent, trainings, allowances etc. Your VA will be the one to take care of these matters. You can focus in generating income on your business while leaving the administrative and support duties to your VA.  Your VA is working even if you are not around so you can expect the job done when you need it.


A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients–usually to other independent entrepreneurs and solo and small business practices, such as that of a lawyer or realtor. Virtual assistants work from their own office (hence “virtual”), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession. It is estimated that there are about 5,000-8,000 virtual assistants worldwide. Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and fax machine. Although the occupation gives a degree of independence, work is on a contractual basis, and a long-lasting cooperation is standard. Typically 5 years of administrative experience in an office is expected at such positions as executive assistant, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, office manager, etc.

My own definition for a Virtual Assistant is someone who can support you in doing your business activities, doing all secretarial and administrative jobs for you virtually, someone who is not by your side physically but available at the right time.

As we are now living in a very fast paced environment, where quality of work is more important than just quantity, hence, we are demanded to move fast, think fast, get everything done in the quickest way.

Many of business people are sticked in deadly schedules everyday, and so many times, we don’t find any chance to do simple things in doing business, such as; calling up customers, sending & replying emails, follow up orders, typing, filling, researching, etc.

Hiring a full time or permanent assistant would be a great option to solve the problems. Yet, not everybody feel comfortable with this idea, or feel not ready to recruit permanent employee for some reasons (office setting up, utilities & equipments, etc).

In this case, hiring a VA could be the best answer. VA doesn’t have to be with you all the time, but at the right time.

You can be more concentrate on the big things for your business, while VA can do all the simple things for you.

Get rid out of the hassle, and hire a VA for you now !

When Do You Need a Virtual Assistant ?

Case 1.

You have steady job, good position at your company, top level executive. Yet, your strong business instinct tells you to start a new business, your own business. One barrier is that you don’t have times to visualize your dream as you are very tied up in your current job. While leaving your company seemed to be not the smartest idea at the moment, but you are also eagerly wishing for looking up new opportunity for the future. At this moment, you need someone reliable with affordable cost to help you make a start. Someone where you don’t have to provide with office set up, equipments & utilities, someone can help you to identify your new business market, someone who can be your other hand to explore your ideas.

Case 2.

Presentation, deadlines for report and other multiple tasks are coming, while you are working in the middle level management, where your boss will not give you any budget for personal secretary. With so many unfinished tasks, you need someone to help you get through all the hassles once in a week, or even only once in a month to loosen your burden, someone where you can share some of your duties, someone you can trust to take over a part of your jobs.

Case 3.

You are an internet trader. So many ‘seemed to good to be true’ offers from Indonesia, and you are very eager to check out all the offers and need to find out its authenticities (have heard so many fraud traders’ activities in all B2B websites lately). Checking up the companies you are dealing with will cost you much. Spending money for overseas phone calls doesn’t seemed to be a smart move. Also, you must consider communication problem before making a phone call, as you are worry the recipient may not speak English fluently, or even don’t understand English at all. It would be much better if you had a contact in Indonesia who can verify all the offers, to check out all details for you, to get you more secured in doing business, and to prevent you getting SCAMMED. In this way, you can save your money much.

Case 4.

You are college students really need some specific data for your college tasks, don’t know where to look, or don’t have times to do all researches as you need also to concentrate on the upcoming examinations. You need someone who can do that for you, someone fast, someone manageable, and someone you can afford to pay.

Case 5.

You are expatriates, living in Jakarta. Just arrived, or have been living for sometimes but still have problems in communications. You think it would be best for you and also your family to have somebody trust able, where you can leave all household management under her control; recruiting driver, housemaid, advising hospital, dentist, or school for your family, and guiding the whole family to understand and get used to Indonesian conditions or traditions.

Case 6.

You live abroad, need to check out something, to buy something, to contact somebody in Indonesia, etc, and you don’t have anyone in this country to assist you. I helped some people abroad to buy samples, to help in doing quality control for the products they bought or manufactured and assuring delivery to get right on time.

So many other cases and situation where hiring a VA would be a solution for u.
Basically, always consult every tasks and requirements first before decided to hire a VA for you.

Good luck !


Dealing business with someone you can’t see is a common thing when you are doing business through internet. You don’t know the person who sells or buys whether they are honest or just a type of a person who will cheat you for money, but being stucked in this kind of worriness also will not solve the problem. As business must keep on running, sometimes you need to trust your seller/buyer. Unluckily, sometimes also you found that someone you have already given a trust to, eventually became someone who cheated on you.

As a Virtual Assistant, I have seen many of fraud cases happened, fake buyers, fake sellers, all of them pretended to be ‘true’, offering such a ‘wonderful price’, a ‘wonderful’ product, that were too good to be true. I spent sometimes participating in Alibaba forum and read some stories of people got cheated from SCAMMERS from my country (or claimed to be). Also got some replies for help verifying a company from so many international traders. Therefore, I would like to share my tips to help people to prevent from being SCAMMED.

  1. Never believe on such a good price. SCAMMERS would offer you such a very good price which make your dreams come true, but, at the end, you would be left with losing out your money, without getting any products you wished to buy. Try to use our sense. Branded products for only 10 – 30% from its original price? It’s ridicoulus. Even the big distributors that hold the licensee to distribute the product itself would not be able to get that price.
  2. Branded product buyer would be the FIRST TARGET. If you are dealing with branded products, mostly electronics, hand phone, pda, gadgets, computer stuffs, baby strollers, toys, collection items, cars, motorcycles, jet ski, snow board, and other kinds of branded products, you have to realize your risks as the chance for you to get SCAMMER is very high. Some ‘nice seller’ would send you fake items, while the rest of them, would send you nothing after you made a payment. Looking for a high margin, by try to find the branded stuffs in developing country, sometimes is a good idea, but most of the times, it is not that GOOD. As a people who’s been born, raised and living in Indonesia, I don’t believe that the price for branded stuffs are lower than other countries. Suppose it is cheaper, it wouldn’t be so far from other countries’ price, which after freight cost, it would be the same in your country’s price. I have checked on this for some items. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you think it is better to hunt for the stuffs in your own country?
  3. Never ever make payment through Western Union or T/T to personal bank account. Though maybe paying through WU or T/T to personal bank account is the simplest way, but indeed, it is the best method for SCAMMERS to operate. WU is simply can not be traced. I don’t know other country’s method for withdrawing WU, but here in Indonesia, we only need to show ID card to the WU agent, and get money. As making ID card is not so difficult, applying for bank account with fake IDs is also easy. That makes personal bank account payment is not safe either. Many SCAMMERS would say that buyer must pay to their manager, owner, or other position in the company’s bank account. It doesn’t make any sense actually. Why would buyer have to do that? A real company, with a valid license, legitimated, shouldn’t ask for making payment through personal bank account as it would violate tax rule. Even if it is only for sample.
  4. Business licenses makes you feel confident? HOld on a second. What kinds of business licenses that we are talking about? Do you really understand the seller’s country regulations, languanges and other rules to ask your seller to provide you with copies of all documents? If you have links, channels or network to verify those documents for you, that won’t be a problem. But if you were only given some certificates, and you don’t even know what it means, you should not feel safe. Documents can be easily faked. Other companies’ real IDs and certificates can be easily stolen, copied or used without their knowledges. If you are not so sure about the company you are dealing with, or need help to verify companies, find your friends, colleagues, or someone you can trust, that live in the same country.
  5. Alert for someone that could only give you mobile numbers. Always check and recheck the phone numbers given to you. The cost of calling by Voip wouldn’t cost you much compared than being SCAMMED and lose lots of money. Verify the phone and fax numbers of the company before you got direct to the seller/buyer’s mobile phone. If someone picked up the phone and couldn’t answer in English, then just forget it. Mostly, legitimate companies who are dealing with exporting would be prepared to stand by at the phone with ‘speaks English’ operator, otherwise they would have to lose many customers. Also one thing, try to verify whether the company’s given phone or fax number is really fixed phone numbers or just mobile number. Ask someone in the trading forum, your colleagues, friends or any other to give information about the phone number if you are not sure. I am sure many of nice Indonesians would be willing to give you information about this.
  6. Googling sometimes is the best. Try to google the company’s name, the company’s address, the phone numbers, the email address, the account number, even the name of a person that is in contact with you. FInd if they are under any other threads, posts, companies, etc.
  7. Avoid to deal with someone with free email service. Also always check their domain, when they gave you their domain. Many tools provided to check out for this information. How long the domain have been purchased, under whose name, check out their IP address, etc. You might feel better to act a little detective at the beginning to assure your partner’s reputation, rather than regretting of something later on.
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