We recently had the opportunity to speak with Brian Su, President and CEO of the Artisan Business Group, an NES Financial Medallion Partner. Brian has served as a consultant to the EB-5 industry since 2005, and through the Artisan Business Group has facilitated alternative financing for over one billion dollars in various residential and commercial real estate projects in the U.S. and China.
Brian offers his perspective on the state of the EB-5 market and its future for prospective EB-5 investors.
What drew you to the EB-5 market?
The EB-5 market is a fascinating industry with components of foreign direct investment, job creation and immigration. It is important to remember that each investor is making one of the most significant decisions of his or her life. The impact of EB-5 is real and it is life changing. It can mean a better education for their children or better lives for the whole family.
Is this still a good time to make an EB-5 investment?
The time to invest is now. Nobody knows what future legislation may look like, so it is important for investors to try and invest as quickly as possible. If the price goes up to a million dollars as expected, today’s investment level will seem comparatively cheap.
As the EB-5 market has evolved, I get the sense that you feel it’s gotten better for the investor — is that true?
It is true. Over the years, investors have learned a lot and they are able to learn from the experiences of those that have gone before them. And with all the information out there, they have more channels to learn. People are better educated, so they can make a better choice. Compared to 5–6 years ago, today’s investor takes a longer time to study and understand the dynamics of the whole process. They want to know how the money is managed… they look for third-party fund management so that they know the funds are spent the way they are supposed to be.
I’ve seen reports about the trend of investors communicating together on social media… doing research together… comparing the status of their applications… do you think this is valuable support?
We do read stories about this situation. It helps investors to have a support group, as this is a very important decision in their lives. We emphasize that investors should do their own research and not rely on other investors or friends when making a decision. Each project and each situation is different, and the investor must realize this. It does help to some degree to help you understand what due diligence means, and it can spread the word about a dishonest developer.
What would you say to investors about the uncertainty about the program and retrogression? Is it still worth the risk?
We cannot determine whether the program is worth the risk, as this is the investor’s decision. Nobody knows the fate of the program and what will happen with potential new legislation. We do believe there will be changes coming to the program, and these will be beneficial to the integrity and long-term success of the program. Retrogression has been a major headache to investors from mainland China. But I have confidence that this problem will be solved over the next few years. The U.S. has a vested interest in doing so, because Chinese investors have funneled billions of dollars into the U.S. market. And the direct result has been the success of a lot of large projects and thousands of U.S. jobs.