Principles for Creating Wealth from Jamaican-Canadian Billionaire, Michael Lee-Chin

Feb 26, 2021

One of my role models is Jamaican-Canadian billionaire Michael Lee-Chin.

I've been fortunate enough to get to know him over the years.

He laid out his top principles for creating wealth during one of our conversations and it stuck with me because it applied to EVERYONE, regardless of wealth.

Simon Sinek says to “start with why” and you do need to figure out why you want to create wealth.

Why Do You Want to Create Wealth?

It may be something as simple as “I would like to retire by 45” or “I want to be able to comfortably take care of my parents” but that then gives you a framework to work backwards from because you can reasonably estimate the costs and therefore, how much money you need to generate by that target date.

Now that you know your “why”, you can start creating the wealth you need to accomplish those goals.

The simplest advice to any investor is to buy a no-load mutual fund and be patient for 10 years, but I've never met anyone who actually took that advice.

Everyone thinks that they can beat the market by choosing stocks.

Here's Lee-Chin's advice for making those picks (it applies to both public and private companies):

Buy Only a Few High Quality Businesses

It is very easy to think that you must invest in 100 things to have an increased chance of doing well, but it is actually better to do the research, pick a few and watch them closely if you are not buying an index fund or mutual fund.

This is no different from the principles of concentration that we apply at Left Brain Capital Management or that Warren Buffett applies at Berkshire Hathaway.

There is some diversification but not in the traditional sense of the word.

Make Sure You Understand these Businesses

The second principle is the most important one for me - understanding the businesses. Too often people buy stocks or bonds of companies they don't actually understand. Taking the time to understand the business and the industry helps you to better understand the business cycle.

Must be in Strong, Long-Term Growth Industries

Must Use Debt Prudently

Be Sure to Hold these Few Businesses for the Long-Term

The next most important principle for me is the final one, holding for the long-term.

Our generation at times seems too easily swayed by the get-rich-quick mentality, especially with some of the pictures we see posted on Instagram profiles by people our age.

Investing requires discipline and a willingness to stick to your targets so if you were buying a stock with a 10-year horizon, then stick with it and monitor the company.

Do not let the noise of the market cause you to try to time the market.

Naturally, I cannot tell you what stocks to buy or private companies to invest in, but I can tell you that you need to look for companies that have “wide moats” as Warren Buffett likes to call it.

This means that the barriers to entry are extremely high.

You can research the kinds of companies that both he and Michael Lee-Chin have invested in over the years to get a clear picture of what moats look like for businesses, but a simple example would be a company that has exclusive rights to sell a specific product or service in a geographical area or has more than 50% market share in their business.

Now that you have a framework for building wealth, you are going to need to preserve it after you build it. I will eventually get to that topic, but for now, we need to grow our wealth and enjoy our lives.

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