Michael Lee-Chin

Born    : 1951 in (1951) Port Antonio, Jamaica

Occupation      : Executive Chairman of AIC Limited, National Commercial Bank of Jamaica

Net worth : Above US$1.0 billion (2009)


You can’t be an investor unless you think like a businessman. And you can’t be a good businessman unless you think like an investor. Thus says Michael Lee-Chin, Chairman and CEO of AIC Limited, the company he acquired in 1987, and has over the years taken the organization from $1 million to more than $9 billion in assets under his management. Under his stewardship, the AIC also purchased percent of the National Bank of Jamaica in 2002.

Michael Lee-Chin was born in Jamaica in 1951, and migrated to Canada in the 1970s where he studied civil engineering at McMaster University. Interestingly, Chin personally convinced Jamaica’s prime minister to pay for his college degree. Actually, as a young man, he worked three jobs; one of them was helping his parent’s family store. He has also worked as bar bouncer. As the eldest of nine children, he acquired a sense of responsibility early in his life. He learned to take the leader’s approach to every task and project that he took on. Since then, he has felt that he needed to take charge of whatever situation he comes across.

He entered the financial services industry in 1977 as a financial advisor. He has distinct beliefs regarding wealth creation, and a unique investment strategy. AIC’s goal is to create long-term wealth for investors. To achieve this objective, Lee-Chin looked for role models – those business people who created wealth in society by owning one or more businesses. For this reason, Lee-Chin established AIC’s investment philosophy of buying new excellent businesses in long-term growth sectors and holding these businesses for the long term in order to help AIC investors prosper by preserving and growing their capital and minimizing taxes.

Five Laws of Wealth Creation

He understood that successful business people manage their finances in a specific way. AIC has analyzed and distilled that format to create five specific principles – better known as The Five Laws of Wealth Creation.

1. Set a Goal


Work with your financial advisor for the answers to these questions: Where am I today financially? Where do I need to be? How will I get there?

2. Use Other People’s Expertise

Use the wealth of knowledge and experience of your financial advisor, accountant, lawyer or role model in your planning for financial security.

3. Use Other People’s Money

Home ownership works with borrowed money, and investing too. Paying one lump sum for a home is beyond our means; just as saving large sums every month for investing is unachievable for most people. But there is an alternative, and that’s borrowing to invest. At AIC, they call this Upvesting. Think of it this way: Rather than using a $100 pre-authorized chequing plan to invest in a mutual fund you could qualify for an Upvest loan of $14,000. You could invest that $14,000 now and get the full amount working for you years sooner. Speak to your financial advisor about the risks and rewards of Upvesting.

4. Pay Yourself First

Very few of us will get rich quick, so we must be disciplined and consistent in our wealth creation approach. Save 10 per cent of your gross income each month and pay yourself first. It’s not how much you earn that matters, but how much you keep.

5. Buy, Hold, And Prosper.

True investors are those who concentrate on buying businesses rather than stocks. Their three common goals are to: Preserve wealth, grow wealth at an above-average rate of return, and minimize the impact of taxes. To preserve and grow wealth, true investors strive to own the highest quality businesses in strong, long-term growth industries. By holding these excellent businesses for the long term and ignoring the daily market, their wealth grows free of the ravages of tax.

AIC’s success has accorded Lee-Chin a position among Canada’s richest citizens and Forbes ranks him among the wealthiest people in the world. AIC’s success has also allowed AIC’s long-term investor to prosper through the AIC Advantage Fund, the firm’s flagship fund, which has consistently outperformed its benchmark index over the past 15 years.

The company won the Dalbar Mutual Fund Service Award in 2000, 2003 and 2004. In 2001, the AIC American Balanced Fund was named best global balanced fund of the year. And Michael Lee-Chin himself was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997. In 2002, he earned the Harry Jerome Award for a decade of achievement. The July 5, 2004 issue of TIME magazine named Michael Lee-Chin one of  “Canada’s Heroes”- representing one of  “the country’s most intriguing and inspiring citizens.”

Lee-Chin is also the founder of the Berkshire Group – three companies known as Berkshire Investment Group, Berkshire Securities and Berkshire Insurance Services. The Berkshire Group has 300 branch offices across Canada, more than 1,100 advisors and assets under management exceeding $11 billion.

Talking of his success, he says he has confidence in his native thoughts.”Once I fully tested my ideas, I’m steadfast in my convictions. Second, my discipline and character have allowed me to become successful. As I said often, I perform tasks today with the same rigor as I did fifteen years ago. Also, I preserve a long term approach to managing a business.

Michael Lee-Chin
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