The July 2015 Workshop was very well attended, take a look at some of the coverage from local Chinese media. Some of the featured speakers include Mr. Jack Lee, Founder of T&T Supermarkets, and Mr. Ken Yao, a successful owner of various restaurants around Ottawa, and we even had special guests Mr. Andy Wang and Mr. Abdul Abdi, political candidates for the 2015 federal election, join us for this entrepreneurial workshop. For the full article, please see below.
白刃刃女士向为小组讨论做导师的近20位渥太华当地的商界精英和各行业的专家表示感谢。他们是：道明加拿大信托银行的小型商业顾问、拥有多年的金融和商业管理经验的单侠女士；CeBA Canada公司的创始人和总裁、AccXpert Business Solutions Ltd.公司的合伙人和总裁，美国派拉蒙投资控股公司的首席财务顾问王兵博士；BMO多年来蝉联区域贷款业绩第一名的贷款顾问蔡敏女士；拥有Telfer Business School EMBA的渥太华知名咨询师、律师张海燕女士；渥太华知名律师陈平女士；银座餐饮集团老板Ken Yao先生；Telfer EMBA和国际贸易背景的李育康老师;必应建筑结构事务所老板建筑工程师Bing先生;渥太华大学股票研究组主任Rukhsana Ahmed教授;发明家Zahirul Hasan Khan博士;拥有两家 Baskin Robbins冰淇淋和蛋糕连锁店的老板Lina Qu女士；CIBC的高级投资理财顾问王凡先生，等等。
In 2002, I immigrated to Toronto from Beijing. My disappointment with this new life started at a local bank. I wasn’t surprised that not understanding much English, but at that Bank, I found that I couldn’t understand the Chinese they spoke, Cantonese. With more than 30 years of Mandarin Speaking, Cantonese seemed like a different language for me.
Later, I found out that the reason why those services was provided solely in Cantonese was because the higher economical achievement of Hong Kong than Mainland China. Most Chinese businesses in Toronto were under Cantonese management back in 2002. I even tried to learn Cantonese to find a job, but it was harder for me than learning English.
In the past decade, I have witnessed the economical take-off of Mainland China, and the fabulous growth and globalization of Chinese wealth. Nowadays, Mandarin-speaking service is provided in more and more places in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
I had earned my two bachelor degrees in Engineering and Commerce and 10 years of security and derivative trading experience before I immigrated to Canada. I came to Canada during the recession caused by “9-11 Terrorist Attack”, it was very difficult to find a job. Because of lack of local experience and local education background, I targeted on entry level accounting jobs.
I had only have 3 interviews in 6 months time, only one of them gave me a second interview, but that did not lead to an offer. I started my own business because I need to put bread on table for my family. The start was not easy, I was working part-time at McDonald’s to support my family and my newly started business for the first 6 months.
Twelve years have gone by, from my little business, now we have built an accounting firm, an insurance brokerage, a foreign exchange business, and a wealth management company under Meritigroup. We now have nine branches across Canada and one office in Beijing.
Early this year, our head office in Toronto moved to a new location. Previously in that location was the company that gave me 2 interviews 12 years ago. If they had hired me, there may not be Meritigroup now. The lament was very hard to explain, as an old Buddhlism phrase says ”Nether world innate divine intervention”
I have strong problem-solving and analytical skills and I’m also willing to make friends. However, selling insurance is quite a challenge to me. Due to a different culture in China, a lot of Chinese people have biased opinions for people who sell life insurance, which potentially increased the difficulty to do this job. That is the reason why I never made selling insurance my main business.
When I incorporated the company, my plan was to do business in tax returns and bookkeeping. Thus becoming a licensed financial professional was my main goal at that moment. However, there is a number of accounting firms in Toronto, which caused the low service price in this highly competitive industry. In order to provide more services to my clients and increase my personal income, I learn a lot of insurance and investment knowledge by myself and got the corresponding licenses soon.
Although I got my professional licenses for selling insurance, I’m not good at sales at all. I always became good friends with my clients and help them solve the practical business problems but few people bought their life insurances from me. It was then that I realized, it’s better to emphasize what I’m good at for the company’s interests. Therefore I started to corporate with other insurance advisors to expand the business. For my part, I focused on solving client’s practical business problems with tax, insurance and investments. My partner was in charge of promoting our insurance sector while maintaining good customer relationship. After the cooperation, our business revenue increased dramatically and we created mutual benefit business philosophy by that time.
Meritigroup aims to become the most excellent Chinese financial advisory firms in Canada. By the time that we achieve our goal, I will proudly say that my shortcoming in sales contributed most to the success of Meritigroup. If I didn’t have this particular weakness, I would have not cooperated with partners in building Meritigroup into this modern enterprise structure.
By realizing our weaknesses, Meritigroup engages to gather more and more intelligence with different talents. We create more business values and share them with our client and partners. The success of Meritigroup can be attributed to the value of sharing. The diversification and risk control also match with our business philosophy. Every investment bears risks. We help our clients to interpret risks and drawbacks of each investment and diversify their investment portfolios to achieve the best customized investment combination.
Due to the weakness of my sales ability, when I started my business, I paid more attention on value-added service to be competitive and unique. At that time, only few financial advisers were able to provide practical suggestion on taxation, so I started to offer individual taxation services for my clients at the second year. While other financial professionals tried to catch up by offering the same services, our team began to challenge those more complex taxation services such as corporation tax, trust tax and non-resident status for tax purpose. Furthermore, we had built an extensive partnership with the Big Four Accounting firms and Law firms. Six years ago, we opened our office in Vancouver and start to serve clients on the west coast. Up to early this year, our team and services had reached Ottawa, Halifax, Saskatoon and other major cities. I can now proudly conclude that, compare to other Chinese financial advisory firms in the industry, whether it’s the number of cities we service and types of services we provide, Meritigroup isn’t only unique but also outstanding.
People also say that for those who immigrated to Canada more than a decade ago had totally missed the golden era of the development of China. Well, I will say without the development of China or globalized economic expansion, Meritigroup would not have succeed, so we are actually the beneficiary of such development. My early clients were not limit to Chinese, but soon I realized that the mother tongue is not only the key for us to obtain the trust of our clients but also to connect with them sincerely. With the development of our team and services, Mandarin became our official language. Nowadays, more than 95% of our clients came from Mainland China. The most joyful thing since I came to Canada is that, through my mother tongue, I have made many great friends from places all over China. But on the other hand, I didn’t improve my English skill much. To match the fast growth of Chinese economic, we will extend our business to Hong Kong, so we can provide a total solution for Chinese families that have the need of globalizing their wealth.
Through your business, what kind of value-added service you can provide to your clients?
Do you want to partner up or team up with someone similar to or different from you in your business?
Do you prefer to manage your team by policy or by personal relationship?