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Richmondite connects immigrant investors to Canadian stock market

Chan said blockchain and cannabis are hot buys
Gilbert Chan helps Chinese immigrants connect to North American companies. He said blockchain (a software platform) and cannabis are hot buys. Daisy Xiong photo

People hear about “Chinese investors” a lot these days in the media, but not many actually know who they are.

Richmond resident Gilbert Chan’s work is to find these Chinese investors in Vancouver and connect them with North American companies.

His firm, NAI Interactive Ltd., has more than 60,000 subscribers — mostly Chinese investors in Canada — and provides them with financial news and information about local markets.

NAI’s Global Chinese Financial Forum (GCFF), held three times a year in Richmond, have companies flying over from across North America to give presentations to 300 to 1,000 local investors.

Attendees sit in on presentations, take notes and ask questions, according to Chan, and all the information and speeches are translated into Chinese.

“Many Chinese investors live in Richmond, so it’s the most convenient location to host it,” said Chan.

Chan joined the company in 1998 when he realized that there was potential in connecting Chinese immigrants to local stock markets.

“A lot of Chinese immigrants come here with money and want to invest, but they lack information about local markets,” said Chan, who moved here from Hong Kong as a teenager.

The audience is usually immigrants or parents of international students, who hear about the service through friends or from real estate agents while buying a property, according to Chan.

As the Chinese economy boomed and Chinese investors came to Canada, they became targets for more and more businesses in North America.

Many companies pay to give presentations at the conferences in the hope of attracting investment, while others meet Chinese investors in Richmond, hoping to prepare themselves for entry into Chinese markets in the future, according to Chan.

“China seems so far away and many companies see Vancouver as a window to Asian markets,” said Chan.

However, the response among local companies was different 20 years ago.

“At the beginning, when we were looking for sponsors for our events among local companies, they asked, ‘Chinese? Do they have money?’” recalled Chan.

“Now, [Chinese] people brought in money and built new houses; businesses saw the buying power of Chinese investors,” he added.

The company’s profile of audiences has also changed over the past decade, as more immigrants from mainland China have moved to Vancouver, bringing large amounts of capital.

“When we started, the majority of the investors were from Taiwan and Hong Kong,” said Chan.

“Investors from mainland China are more aggressive in investing, and willing to take more risks because they are looking for higher rewards,” said Chan.

“And, apart from North American markets, they remain interested in Chinese markets, because of the strong ties they have kept to China while being here.”

He added investors are also younger now compared to a decade ago — mostly 35-50 years-old.

Given the strong buying power local Chinese investors have shown, Chan thinks the recent tax on foreign buyers by the NDP government will not have a significant impact on the market.

“Most of our attendees are permanent residents living in Metro Vancouver...sure they have a Chinese face, but they are not considered foreign buyers, and they are buying houses here, too,” said Chan.

He revealed that the trending industries for investment in North America right now are the block chain and cannabis industries.

The next GCFF will be held on April 28 at Executive Plaza Airport Hotel with free admission.