Anna Gou: singing the tune of investment
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. ”
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.