Focusing on the local community made this Chinese immigrant stand out.
by Caora McKenna
Foxx Liu, 36, came to Canada from China in 2003 for practical reasons. His decision to stay and build his life in Halifax was more personal.
He arrived on the West Coast in Richmond, B.C., but it felt like a “mini Hong Kong.” He crossed the country hoping he would experience the “real Canada” in Nova Scotia.
In Halifax, Liu set out to stand out. He started his studies at Saint Mary’s University in accounting, surrounded himself with international and local friends, and dove into Halifax life.
“The readiness to open up myself, try to dive into the local circle, try to not be afraid of anything, that made me different,” Liu says.
As an accountant, Liu comes at everything practically. He is always looking forward, always paying attention to the next step. As a businessman, he knows it’s all about the people.
His focus on connections got him a job right out of university with PricewaterhouseCoopers, then a job in government, and took him to work in Africa in 2011.
When he was ready to start his own accounting business, it was those connections that made Halifax “the natural choice.”
His experiences taught him that what made him different, made him valuable. He turned that lesson into Golden Touch Accounting Inc., which specializes in accounting and consulting for Chinese and other immigrants.
Giving up the comfort of a work-life balance to start his business hasn’t been easy. Still in the growing stages, Liu says he is a workaholic.
“The last time I saw my golf bag was the time I moved,” he says.
Even though he is working long hours, he finds the balance of life in Halifax is better.
“In big cities people are so rushed on everything, they start to forget about how to enjoy life.”
For days that get too stressful, Liu is grateful for Nova Scotia’s landscape. In just 30 minutes he’s sitting on a rock by Peggy’s Cove, taking a deep breath and relaxing. It’s the same spot he took his wife, Tong Tong Zhang, on their first date. The first few years have been especially hard, but he and his business partner, Shen Wang, kept moving forward. His wife, colleagues and friends have all kept him going.
“I wanted to be independent, I want to have my own freedom, and I wanted to build something of my own.” Liu says.
Golden Touch Accounting Inc. now has offices in Halifax and Charlottetown, serving more than 100 clients. Liu also started a training program for international students after university. He calls it a “win-win arrangement.”
The program gives international students who “have a bigger disadvantage” practical experience, and helps him find and train better employees for his business and other firms in the city.
He teaches participants that what’s perceived as their biggest disadvantage, being foreigners, “could turn into their biggest advantage.”
“We come from another country. If we really want to fit in, then we really need to be brave and step outside of our comfort zone,” Liu says.