Anna Gou: singing the tune of in­vest­ment

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS CANADA - By HATTY LIU and YUJI ZHANG for China Daily editorial@ostvna.com

In­vest­ment ad­viser be­lieves Chi­nese and Cana­di­ans in busi­ness need also to pro­mote re­la­tions be­tween the coun­tries’ peo­ple

Chi­nese busi­ness­peo­ple in Canada are more than in­vestors and buy­ers, ac­cord­ing to Anna Gou, a Chi­ne­seCana­dian en­tre­pre­neur and in­vest­ment ad­viser in Van­cou­ver: they have the op­por­tu­nity, if not the obli­ga­tion, to be a bridge be­tween two na­tions and economies.

“In the course of my work, if you ask any­body, Chi­nese or Cana­dian, they all say they want to make a con­nec­tion,” Gou said. “But that’s not some­thing you just do. How do you make a con­nec­tion that adds real eco­nomic value to our so­ci­ety, be­sides mak­ing a profit?”

For­merly an IT mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor with 20 years ex­pe­ri­ence in China, Gou im­mi­grated to Canada in 2001 and co-founded Lux­more Realty Group, a job that said lets her “meet a lot of peo­ple from both coun­tries, who use it as a jump­ing off point for their in­ter­est in build­ing part­ner­ships.”

Gou has since branched out from prop­erty through her new fi­nan­cial man­age­ment com­pany, Metu In­vest­ment Group, to be an in­vest­ment ad­viser and ac­tive part­ner in a va­ri­ety of other en­ter­prises that she be­lieves will be “value added” for gen­uine trans-Pa­cific part­ner­ships.

“Both ‘con­nec­tion’ and ‘value added’ are present in the projects that we take on,” Gou said. “Value doesn’t just mean get­ting in­vestors to put money to­ward your project, but find­ing the right tal­ent, the right mar­ket, the right part­ners with the right re­sources for you, and the right di­rec­tion for you to de­velop. From there, we can make a dif­fer­ence to­gether.”

Cur­rently Gou is CFO of Fly­ing U Ranch of 70 Mile House, a dude ranch with more than 150 years of his­tory that was ac­quired last year by a new Chi­nese owner.

“Canada has mag­nif­i­cent nat­u­ral re­sources. This project is not aimed at mak­ing a short-term profit. I hope our Chi­nese in­vestors and their next gen­er­a­tion can grow to­gether with this ranch, and with Canada,” Gou said.

As vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and strat­egy at Elec­tra Mec­ca­nica, an­other project un­der­way, Gou is help­ing the Van­cou­ver-based elec­tric car de­vel­oper find Chi­nese part­ners to pro­vide cap­i­tal, man­u­fac­tur­ing as­sis­tance and Chi­nese mar­ket ac­cess for their prod­ucts.

In Gou’s opinion, this project is an ex­am­ple of what fu­ture na­tional-level co­op­er­a­tion in clean en­ergy re­search and de­vel­op­ment be­tween two coun­tries could look like.

“Our so­ci­ety is al­ready trend­ing to­ward elec­tric ve­hi­cles, and the fu­ture of clean en­ergy de­vel­op­ment is a global one,” she said. “Canada has ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies and China has a big­ger mar­ket and in­fra­struc­ture for man­u­fac­tur­ing. To speak about in­dus­try-level part­ner­ship be­tween two coun­tries is to speak about col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween its en­ter­prises and peo­ple.”

Ac­cord­ing to Trade and In­vest BC, China is Bri­tish Columbia’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner af­ter the United States. While the high de­mand for BC’s nat­u­ral re­sources is well known, BC com­pa­nies have also started to bank on the growth in China’s knowl­edge-based in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing trans­porta­tion and clean and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies.

Van­cou­ver has long served as Canada’s Pa­cific Gate­way and Chi­nese im­mi­grants and in­vestors com­ing there have courted crit­i­cism in re­cent decades for fo­cus­ing on real es­tate projects that drive up prices rather than cre­ate long-term job growth.

Fail­ure to pro­vide job growth and sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment was one con­sid­er­a­tion be­hind the ter­mi­na­tion of the con­tro­ver­sial fed­eral Im­mi­grant In­vestor Pro­gram and En­tre­pre­neur Pro­gram.

“I got my start in prop­erty where I built my con­nec­tions, gained ex­pe­ri­ence and learned what we lacked to bridge the gap be­tween Canada and China,” Gou said. “Of course, Van­cou­ver is one of the most liv­able cities in the world, and peo­ple from all over the world just want to live here. But I’d like to see more sus­tain­able in­vest­ment and I think we’re at the point where poli­cies are needed to make that hap­pen.”

“I don’t like in­vest­ments where it gets passed on as soon as the next per­son pays more money,” she added. “It’s ir­re­spon­si­ble if, as an in­vest­ment ad­viser, you just fo­cus on get­ting peo­ple places to park their money for a quick re­turn. There is no value added to that.”

Gou has her own three-step recipe for suc­cess­ful in­vest­ment: know­ing the right peo­ple, find­ing the right plat­form and mu­tual as­sis­tance.

“There is no lack of lo­cal tal­ent in Canada, in­clud­ing peo­ple who orig­i­nally came from China, and that’s al­most the first thing any busi­ness in­vestor will look for,” Gou said. “When we do in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ments, we want to keep an eye on the big pic­ture of job-cre­ation, which is value added on the na­tional level.

“What we are try­ing to cre­ate is es­sen­tially a value chain with us, the ad­vis­ers, in the mid­dle. This is some­thing Canada lacks, we pro­vide raw ma­te­ri­als but value gets added in the United States be­fore it reaches China.”

Mu­tual as­sis­tance be­comes pos­si­ble when the first two con­di­tions are met.

“On one end, here in Canada, our sellers and en­ter­prises know they’re putting them­selves in good hands, that the projects they worked so hard to cre­ate and main­tain won’t just die out,” Gou said.

On the other end, “we’re at­tuned to very cur­rent in­ter­ests from China,” she said. “For ex­am­ple, Chi­nese in­vestors know the harm that comes from air pol­lu­tion and are in­ter­ested help­ing projects that bring clean en­ergy to the world.

“What we want to con­sider is what are the best facets of China we can bring to the world, and what we can bring back — this is our re­spon­si­bil­ity do­ing busi­ness over­seas, and this also fits in with the One Belt, One Road Ini­tia­tive in the Chi­nese econ­omy right now.”

Gou earned an MBA in fi­nance and mar­ket­ing from Ok­la­homa City Univer­sity in 2005 and won the Greater Van­cou­ver Medal­lion Club Award from 2011 to 2014.

Other recog­ni­tions in­clude the BC Top 10 Out­stand­ing Chi­nese Women Award in 2013, the Out­stand­ing Women of Canada Award in 2015 and be­ing named Pres­i­dent’s Club Mem­ber of the Real Es­tate Board of Greater Van­cou­ver in 2015.

She cred­its her suc­cess to strong per­sonal val­ues and a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to­ward clients be­hind the projects she takes on and that she rec­om­mends to in­vestors.

“Many Chi­nese clients who come to us are ex­perts in their field, or com­pa­nies that are lead­ing in their in­dus­try, and we give them room to ex­er­cise their own tal­ents,” Gou said.

“For things they lack, Canada might have, so I see my role as bring­ing clients in to learn to­gether about what Canada is, to suc­ceed to­gether, and make sure this project is vi­able down to the last per­son who takes it on.

“Do­ing in­vest­ments is some­thing that takes time and re­quires a sense of in­ti­mate, per­sonal touch. We’re all singing the same tune on dif­fer­ent chan­nels.”

To speak about in­dus­trylevel part­ner­ship be­tween two coun­tries is to speak about col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween its en­ter­prises and peo­ple. ”

PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Anna Gou, Van­cou­ver en­tre­pre­neur Van­cou­ver en­tre­pre­neur Anna Gou at Fly­ing U Ranch in Bri­tish Columbia, a dude ranch project she be­lieves will bring about more long-term col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Chi­nese in­vestors and Cana­dian busi­nesses.

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