Yesterday, WP put up a new poll on its website entitled The greatest Canadian investor of all time is...? Early results suggest Prem Watsa and Stephen Jarislowsky are the front runners.
As part of WPs search for Canada’s greatest investor of all time, we’re connecting on a weekly basis with financial advisors from across the country, asking them to elaborate on their three picks. We’re looking for the crème de la crème, the very best, alive or dead.
The first advisor taking part is Brent Vandermeer of Vandermeer Wealth Management in Ottawa.
Brent’s three picks are Ned Goodman, Stephen Jarislowsky and Prem Watsa. Listed in no particular order of preference, although Goodman’s name was left off the ballot there is a fourth option of “other” for devotees of Dundee Capital’s founder.
Vandermeer’s first pick is slightly biased as he used to work for Dundee when Goodman was the owner but valid nonetheless. A follower of Warren Buffett, Goodman used to attend the annual meeting in Omaha every year reporting back to employees about everything he learned while in Nebraska. A very shrewd businessman, he was a true value investor whose results were excellent.
Next up is Stephen Jarislowsky, who only stepped down as the head of Montreal-based investment counselling firm Jarislowsky Fraser in 2012 – at age 87.
Vandeermeer says Jarislowsky was the type of investor who could take big risks where warranted but generally was a proponent of capital preservation with diversification a big part of that strategy. Investing for the long term, Jarislowsky tended to invest in companies with good earnings and strong cash flows. He definitely didn’t follow the herd.
Last on Vandeermeer’s list is Prem Watsa, commonly referred to as the Canadian Warren Buffett. Long-term, Fairfax Financial’s returns are extraordinary. Over the past 10 years, Fairfax’s stock has achieved an annualized return of 12.7%, 460 basis points greater than the S&P/TSX Composite Index.
Going against the grain has netted Watsa some big windfalls over his long and storied career. High on this list would be his 2011 partnership with Wilbur Ross to buy the Bank of Ireland for pennies on the dollar. Also a value investor, Watsa’s annual reports are required reading for anyone wanting to learn from one of the best.