Lessons from Stephen A. Jarislowsky, founder and CEO of Jarislowsky Fraser Limited

Stephen A. Jarislowsky is the founder, chairman and CEO of Jarislowsky Fraser Limited, which he built into one of the largest and most successful investment management firms in Canada, with over C$40 billion in assets under management, primarily institutional and ultra high net worth clients.

In May 2018, Scotiabank completed the acquisition of Jarislowsky Fraser Limited, creating the third-largest active asset manager in Canada.

1. On his success as an investor: "It's very simple: buy low, sell high, don't buy junk and don't deal with people who aren't honest."

2. On the stock market: "The stock market is like a zoo, with everything in it from a flea to an elephant and lots in between. You have to know what animal you're dealing with. People are doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing. The idea is to buy cheap and sell dear. When you're panicky, things are cheap. When the golden glint of greed is in your eye, things are expensive.
Human nature never changes. People gravitate between greed and fear. It's happened since time immemorial.Because of the same emotion that makes people sell now. Buying and selling on emotion rather than knowledge and common sense. Common sense is uncommon. People get fearful and say, how am I going to retire? I'd better get out of the stock market or I won't have anything left. So they sell at a lower price."

3. On playing the long term game: "Far too much attention is being paid by people to short-term results, both by corporations and investors. As a responsible manager, I don't have to play a game which, in the long term, is a losing game. Our main line of business is solid, sound investment counselling."

4. On having an owner mindset as an investor: "I'm not just a pension fund manager. In my own mind I'm someone who could sit down with any chief executive and go over his affairs and have input."

5. On staying disciplined: "We don't buy anything that goes against our guidelines. We stick to our policies, even if the market is totally different."

6. On what makes the best company director: "This person has a sense of public service, and an awareness that much has been given to him, and that he owes much. He, or she, won't expect the impossible, but has high standards, and can see and respect the perspective of others. They know better than to fuss with company business. They don't need the money or the prestige of the appointment. A person willing to hold themselves up as a leader and an example for others. Common sense, integrity, judgment and knowledge."

7. On the use and misuse of technology: "I don't like technology. When they invented those things I was already working 12 hours a day, so how could I have become more productive? Technology brings too much information today. People don't have the time to understand and think. A lot of the decisions today are made by people who have no understanding and haven't thought things through."

8. On achievement for achievement's sake: "It gives me enormous pleasure if something has been accomplished. I've always thought that if you believe in something, it should lead to action. It should not lie fallow as a thought. If you have come to a conclusion that something is feasible, then by all means do it."

9. On the essence of money: "the essence of money is freedom, including the freedom to speak your mind."

10. On aiming for excellence: "We think it's smart to keep the fund size reasonable. And if we need more money we will raise another fund, rather than having a much larger fund which would put some of the pressure on us to just get money invested. It's very important for us to maintain our record because it makes it so easy to raise money, and if we blow it, it's 24 years down the drain. So there's no inclination here to shovel money out in order to get another fund raised."

11. On the best way to live: "Ethical behaviour is something an intelligent, grown-up person will decide is the way to live. It's the easiest way to live, and the best way to get respect and recognition from people."

12. On the randomness of life: "Most things that happen in life are the result of small turns in the road that lead to other places."

Source:
[1] Slayer of giants, pension fund whiz protects the small: The Windsor Star; Windsor, Ont. 12 June 1990: C9.
[2] Money talks. Maley, Dianne.Toronto Star; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]19 Oct 2002: S01.
[3] Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada). (July 16, 1992): Business News: pB18.
[5] Tender care for the family fortune. Vieira, Paul. National Post; Don Mills, Ont. 12 Feb 2002: SR1 / FRONT.
[6] Stephen Jarislowsky has every right to say "I told you so" Lorinc, John. Report on Business Magazine Vol. 19, Iss. 5, (Nov 2002): 44-51.
[7] Stephen Jarislowsky calls it as he sees it. Francis, Diane. National Post; Don Mills, Ont. 12 Feb 2005: FP1 Front.
[4, 8] Stephen Jarislowsky: Value and integrity - A winning asset mix White, Janet. Benefits Canada; Montreal Vol. 26, Iss. 6, (Jun 2002): 30-31.
[9] 'Sheer stupidity, indulgence and greed'; Investment guru Stephen Jarislowsky, Macdonald, Don. The Ottawa Citizen; Ottawa, Ont. 27 May 2008: C.1.
[10, 11] Stephen Jarislowsky: Retiring with purpose. Mcfarland, Janet.The Globe and Mail; Toronto, Ont. 21 July 2018: B.1.
[12] An occasional series about business newsmakers Stephen Jarislowsky Money Manager with a mission. Jade Hemeon. Toronto Star; Toronto, Ont. 27 Oct 1991: F1.