Lee-Chin Sells Wealth Management Co. - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Michael Lee-Chin often applies the words of a Canadian proverb to investing. “To be successful you have to make sure that you are where the puck is going.” In August, Lee-Chin decided that the puck was no longer with Berkshire-TWC Financial Group Inc., Canada’s largest independent, privately-owned financial planning and wealth management organization. Lee-Chin’s holding company, Portland Holdings Inc., sold Berkshire to Manulife Financial Corp. for an undisclosed amount.

“It was a strategic decision,” says Jordan Benincasa, a fund analyst at Morningstar Inc., a provider of independent investment research. “One of the reasons he is selling it is because there may be minimal synergies between Berkshire and AIC,” he says, referring to AIC Limited, a mutual fund company in which Berkshire sold its products and an asset owned by Portland Holdings, that has suffered a wave of net redemptions since 2002. Still, efficiency and outsourcing have kept AIC profitable, Lee-Chin asserts.

Berkshire had amassed $13 billion of assets under Portland Holdings, but profitability aside, selling it freed up management time and capital, says Lee-Chin. “As a result of consolidation and increased interest from banks and insurance companies, the wealth-management business has become very capital intensive, very competitive, and it is also a very low-margin business. For all of those reasons I decided I would rather reallocate my capital elsewhere.”

For Lee-Chin, who was born in Jamaica, “elsewhere” is the Caribbean where he has aimed his puck at a new goal: retirement services. “The Caribbean has high, long-term growth potential emanating from retirement and baby boomers,” he says.

Lee-Chin has reinvested 100% of the profits at National Commercial Bank of Jamaica Limited back into Jamaica, a strategy that has already compounded human and financial capital in the region. In 2002, other banks were picking at the carcass of NCB before he bought a 75% stake. Now, Lee-Chin predicts that in 2007 NCB will make nearly $100 million in after-tax profits.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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