Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this weekend is Jerry Morgan of Mercan Group.
How do you spend your weekends?
To answer this question fairly, I think you must split it into life before COVID and life after COVID.
Prior to COVID, I would travel extensively throughout the world, and weekends were mostly spent doing seminars with our various partners. When I was not working, I would enjoy the company of friends and family. Since COVID, I have returned to Canada and have not travelled for the past 10 months. This has been quite a nice break for me as I have been able to spend more time doing various activities with my children on the weekends.
Additional benefits have been that I took up biking, golfing, and tennis so my weekends are still quite busy but in a different and rather nice way. However, I still do some Zoom seminars during the weekends, so the business is still running smoothly.
What are your top three business goals this year?
Our first goal is to continue to build upon our position as the leading developer under the Portuguese Golden Visa program and to further expand our portfolio of projects. Our second goal is to double the number of agents and partners we work with internationally, with a particular focus on new markets.
And our third goal is to utilize our position in the Canadian market to develop and implement new solutions for foreign recruitment and offer more opportunities for business immigration to Canada.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
As we are a large developer for Portugal’s Golden Visa Program, with nine hotels in various stages of development, we are keeping a close eye on the trends for the recovery of the hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Fortunately, several of our properties are only opening next spring with others coming later in the year. We have therefore been partially shielded from the worst effects of COVID. It appears that tourism should start recovering by next summer, so we are cautiously optimistic.
Which book is on your night-stand right now?
To be entirely honest with you, I do not have a book on my nightstand right now. I have, however, always been a bit of a news junkie. I read two to three newspapers every day as well as an assortment of business and news magazines. I still prefer to hold the physical paper but will still read up on various topics online throughout the day as well.
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
It is quite interesting how this all came about. It all goes back to 1989 when I was employed at a venture capital firm in Ottawa, Canada. I was fortunate that the company agreed to sponsor me to attend the Executive MBA program at Concordia University. In the second year of the program, students were required to complete a major thesis. I offered the company to do something that could be beneficial to the organization. They basically said to do something that would be motivating for me. I then came across an interesting article about Canada starting an Investor Immigration Program. This looked like an innovative opportunity, so I decided to do my paper as a business plan for setting up a business centered around the new Investor Program.
At this point, I was halfway through my second and final year of my program when something significant occurred. The company where I worked had gone from 0 to $50 million in sales and now was on the way back to zero. I then found myself out of a job and decided that I would use my thesis business plan for myself and started Mercan Capital Ltd., a company specializing in providing services under the new Canada Immigrant Investor Program. As part of my business plan, there was also a section on starting up a similar operation in the USA, should they ever initiate such a program. In 1991, with my USA partner, we launched one of the first EB5 projects under their new program.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
There is no moment or event that I could particularly pinpoint as my proudest moment. Although the most lucrative part of my business has been investors and high net worth individuals, it is our day-to-day normal immigration work that can sometimes yield the most rewarding moments. Whether it be a work permit, helping a family reunify, or solving a critical situation, it is a great feeling to know that I was able to make a difference in someone’s life.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
That would have to be the growth of the Turkey program. The sheer volume that they are doing is quite surprising.
If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change?
Going back in time 10 years ago, I guess I should have expanded and diversified into developing more European products of my own at an earlier time. As I only started in Europe five years ago, I think my position would have been even stronger had I started sooner.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
I have been around since 1989 and have seen a lot of people and a lot of things in this industry. The people I admire most are the ones who were there to build this industry back then. They are the pioneers of this now billion-dollar industry, which we all benefit from today. But as I spend more time in this business and witness both good and bad actions, I have really come to respect the people that operate in this field with integrity and ethics that we can all be proud of.
If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
The beauty of working in immigration is that it is an ever-changing environment, and you get to adapt and change your business regularly. I am confident that there will be new markets that we will get to develop, and we will be expanding into new places. We will also be managing our ever-growing portfolio of projects in Portugal, and we should be getting our investors their money back by then.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.