Dennis Mitchell of Sprott Asset Management is part of this year's Wealth Professional Canada's Host List.

Sprott Asset Management

It’s been a year of transition for Dennis Mitchell. Leaving his position as chief investment officer and executive vice president of Sentry Investments after a decade with the firm made plenty of headlines last July, as did his decision to join Sprott Asset Management in September. The move was surprising to some, but Mitchell says the change has been very much for the better. “I have the chance to build a brand new franchise from the bottom up, so I’m excited about the challenge,” he says. “My goal is to build a very strong North American and global franchise with Sprott. Goal number one is to deliver great performance with my funds, then accumulate capital into those funds.”

Frequently the public face of Sentry during his 10-year tenure, Mitchell accumulated more than $2 billion in assets, and oversaw more than $18 billion in total assets for the firm. He hopes to emulate that success at Sprott, and has a clear idea of how to achieve his lofty goals. “I have a specific investment process that I call focus-business investing,” he says. “Essentially what that comes down to is finding high-quality businesses that offer enough return for the risk that I’m taking. A high-quality business, for me, is one that offers strong returns on invested capital, strong recurring free cash flow and irreplaceable assets capitalized with low debt.”  

Speaking about recent conflicting economic forecasts from the Bank of Canada and the IMF, Mitchell stresses that the Canadian economy’s health will always be at the mercy of international forces. “It will be difficult for the Canadian economy to accelerate forward as long as global growth remains weak,” he says. “The global economy growing at 3% really doesn’t auger well for Canadian GDP to reach that level. I think that we’re set up properly, in that we have an accommodative monetary policy married to a stimulative fiscal policy. But without an acceleration in global growth, I cannot see the Canadian economy reaching its full potential.” 

As for the financial planning industry as a whole, Mitchell believes educating the general public about the investment process should be a national priority. “The best thing you can do for clients is to educate them,” he says. “I don’t understand why we take courses in high school in geography and history but none about financial planning and investment management. From the industry’s standpoint, we need greater transparency, not just in fees and expenses, but in exactly what people own and why. We are making some progress, whether it’s driven by the regulators or the firms themselves, but I really think it would behoove us if we had a better educated populace that understood investment management and financial planning.”