Jarislowsky is the 80-something co-founder of the money management firm Jarislowsky Fraser, one of Canada’s most respected financial firms. They manage pension funds, corporate and private investment portfolios primarily in North American but also around the world. The company began in 1955 as an investment research firm and in the early 1960s, the firm branched into private investment counseling. In 1966, they extended into pension fund management and since that time, the rest as they say is history. From very modest beginnings over 50 years ago to assets under management exceeding $45 billion today, I guess you could say Stephen Jarislowsky is a Canadian financial icon. You don’t become that successful if you don’t know a thing or two about money management.
Surprisingly, The Investment Zoo is Jarislowsky’s first book but you wouldn’t know it. The billionaire octogenarian packs a wealth of information into a rather lean, easy to read book. Jarislowsky takes readers through some personal history, offers his take on overcompensated CEOs, and describes perverse industry incentives before he lays out how investors can achieve financial success.
To survive “the zoo” that is the investment industry, Jarislowsky offers tons of common sense for do-it-yourself investors derived from his own experiences, both the good and the bad, but also from his observations of others. To avoid being beaten-up or worst still, consumed by various wild animals that inhabit the investment jungle Jarislowsky voices a familiar expert refrain:
- Save early
- Save often
- Avoid trading
- Be an owner
- Focus on dividend-paying companies
- Avoid management fees
- Live within your means
Overall, I found the book a very interesting read but The Investment Zoo did little to reinforce what I’ve learned from other investment books, such as The Single Best Investment by Lowell Miller. Maybe that’s because the recipe for financial success is getting more and more ingrained (and clearer) with every investing book I read. That negative comment aside, The Investment Zoo has a host of great messages and I found lots to takeaway and share with you today. Just like a Canadian bank stock, I would recommend The Investment Zoo as a strong buy for every DIY investor, especially those who are focused on dividend-paying stocks. Pick the book up, give it a read and keep it on your bookshelf for reference (and reinforcement) during your financial journey. This is a must read or own book in my opinion.
I have two posts earmarked to cover my favourite takeaways from The Investment Zoo. This post, part 1, includes a few of Jarislowsky’s gems below:
“Much of our savings in Canada literally goes to waste. Keeping money in cash or bonds accomplishes little in the long term after tax and inflation.”
“I have certainly made investment mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes and you don’t learn unless you make a few.”
“I believe that debt worldwide is so high that a sharp expansion of the money supply, which in time always causes inflation, is evitable.”
“Taxation has never been fair, since government can only take from those who have money.”
“In the investment business you always have to look at the downside because that’s where your risk is. Anybody can live with the upside!”
“Therefore, in good times or in bad, I recommend you stick to the highway of investing in well-performing stocks. You’ll end up the better for it regardless of the world situation.”
“Clearly, investors are operating in a jungle with some very vicious animals.”
“Few people tip Abbott Laboratories, Philip Morris, or General Electric.” “Of course there are exceptions, but chances are if you listen to five tips, no more than one of them will be a solid, long-term choice.”
“Brokers make their money on commissions. So if an investor worked with a broker and bought Abbott Laboratories, the poor sap would make one commission in a lifetime, unless the client had new money to place.”
“Clearly for investors, all things being equal, the fewer fees you pay the more your total wealth is maintained.”
Have you read The Investment Zoo?
What do you think about Jarislowsky’s comments? Agree or disagree for the most part?