Spotlight on Michael Lee-Chin

by Minority Fortune

Michael Lee-ChinYou may or may not have heard of him before, but after reading this post you’re likely to not forget him. Michael Lee-Chin is a Chinese-Jamaican Canadian billionaire, investing extraordinaire, bank owner, and philanthropist. He’s been profiled by Forbes as one of the world’s richest people. His wealth is currently valued at an estimated $1 billion but has been as high as $2.5 billion in the past.

Michael got his start by working two years at the Investors Group, in the Hamilton, Ontario office. After that, he went to work for Regal Capital Planners as a regional manager. Wikipedia reports that within four years, he borrowed $500,000 Canadian dollars from his employer to grab a stake in Mackenzie Financial Group and formed Kicks Athletics with Andrew Gayle. Four years later, the investments grew to be worth $3.5 million.


From there, Michael kept the momentum going. He took a portion of his proceeds and purchased Advantage Investment Council (a division of AIC Limited) for $200,000. He would remain hands on with the company and grow it to be worth over $6 billion Canadian dollars. He spared no time created an additional financial firm with multiple divisions, known as Berkshire. It consisted of an investment planning arm, a securities dealership and an insurance operation. This company grew to manage over $12 billion Canadian dollars in assets. Both of these companies have been sold. In 2007, Manulife acquired Berkshire from Portland Holdings in exchange for shares. In 2009, Lee-Chin sold AIC Limited to Manulife for an unknown amount.

Lee-Chin in Black Enterprise MagazineMichael spread out his investments and became a major player in the Caribbean. When Jamaica experienced financial turbulence in the late 90s, he stepped in and acquired 75% of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica from the Jamaican Government for 6 billion Jamaican dollars (US$127 million). He created a global money transfer company called Senvia Money Services in 2003. He also followed with buying out AIC Financial Group Limited, located in Trinidad. In 2006 he bought an 85% stake in the United General Insurance Company, the largest auto insurer in Jamaica, and renamed the firm Advantage General Insurance Company. Around the same time, he bought a major stake in CVM Communications Group, comprised of radio and television stations and newspapers.

As if the man could do no more, he devises an idea to create a $1 billion dollar fund for the purpose of investing in Caribbean businesses mainly within Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. It’s a brilliant move because by boosting the economy in these places, he’ll also see a boost of money deposits within his banking and money transfer services.

Lessons to Learn

People often categorize Michael Lee-Chin’s investment style as very conservative because he didn’t buy into a lot of bubbles along the way. However, his business mind is extremely aggressive. The proof lies in the results. Within two decades, he was able to turn $500,000 Canadian dollars and leverage his way into multiple financial firms, Caribbean businesses, and attain personal massive wealth. It landed him all the way to Forbes’ wealthy list. Conservative? No way.

4 Key Strategies to Learn from Michael Lee-Chin’s story:

Don’t get comfortable with wins: Michael could have easily lived off his modest returns he made from his first investment. Instead, he continued to buy up more assets.
Play off the momentum: Once Michael Lee-Chin scored a big deal, he kept rolling with the punch to acquire more businesses.
Think in 360 Degrees: See the entire picture when making an investment. Michael didn’t stop at buying up the bank in Jamaica. He went on to dominate investments in Jamaica’s entire economy. When Jamaica experiences significant growth, he’ll profit via his banking, money transfer, insurance, and communication companies.
Participate In Your Investment’s Development: When Michael Lee-Chin makes a financial commitment to a deal, he also makes a personal commitment as well. He joins the committee board or team to aid in its growth.

Michael Lee-Chin serves as an excellent Grade A model. Furthermore, he symbolizes the idea of minority fortune. Michael, we salute you!

*Images courtesy of YSRA and Emily Mills.
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