In April 2020, we started to go "on-the-ground" to speak to industry professionals
to find the truth about how the pandemic would affect
the future of our economy, our lives, and our investments. The result was our Fact-Finding Video Conference Series.
"I love the Fact Finders. They make me smarter!" – client
"I wanted to pass along to the team at Veritas that the recent interview with Mr. Lassonde was gold. (Pun intended!)
There are many other past interviews I could mention as well, but for some reason,
that one prompted me to want to thank you guys for starting this series and keeping it fresh and interesting." – client
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The Fact-Finding Series
June 30, 2021
Episode 72: Up & Down Bay St.
Bill Vlaad, founder and CEO of the recruitment firm Vlaad and Co.
In episode 72 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Vlaad (see his full bio) discussed:
• What employees should think about before they jump to look for greener pastures.
• Ideas for employers to retain talent and what employees value most.
• How to deal with the post-pandemic back-to-work challenge.
• Trends in both the buy-side and sell-side hiring and compensation.
June 29, 2021
Episode 71: Commercial Real Estate Market Re-Heating
Alan MacKenzie, CEO JLL Canada
We have decided to make this video freely available for a limited time.
In Episode 71 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. MacKenzie (see full bio) discussed real estate market conditions in Canada, including:
• Industry conditions before the pandemic: There was too much capital chasing too few income streams;
• Booming demand for industrial because of eCommerce fulfillment: Vacancy rate falling;
• Multi-family market and the effect of immigration: “Investors in this market are trying to buy up that product as fast as they possibly can.”
• Retail: Market activity has picked back up over the last 30 days;
• Office: Transactions in this market are bouncing back as well; Why vacancy rates are artificially high and will fall;
• Where are the best opportunities in the sector? For entrepreneurs, the best spreads and value is in Alberta retail. For institutions, the best opportunities are in developing industrial properties and multi-family.
June 23, 2021
Episode 70: The Future of Oil In Historical Perspective
Graham Taylor, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Trent University
Professor Taylor is the author of several books on Canadian business, including Imperial Standard: Imperial Oil, Exxon and the Canadian Oil Industry from 1880. In Episode 70 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Professor Taylor (full bio) discussed:
• The boom & bust history of oil in Canada and globally;
• How the U.S. government broke up Rockefeller’s Standard Oil early last century;
• The rise of OPEC in the 1970s;
• How Exxon abandoned alternative energy decades ago and denied climate change;
• The speed at which alternative energy can replace fossil fuels;
• What could drive the price of oil in the future?
June 22, 2021
Episode 69: Bottlenecks and Constraints of the Global Supply Chain
Robert Lewis-Manning, President of the Chamber of Shipping
In episode 69 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Lewis-Manning (full bio) discussed:
• Trade distortion during the pandemic: Shutdowns, changing consumer habits and capacity constraints.
• After the pandemic: “It’s going to take time to build capacity that reflects a new trading environment.”
• Global bottlenecks and Canadian constraints: Problem of empty containers and constraints continuing well into 2022.
• More: Inflation, significant events, environmental pressures, onshoring realities and vertical integration.
June 24, 2021
Episode 68: Rail Mergers & The Ghost of Hunter Harrison
Howard Green, journalist and author of the book Railroader: The Unfiltered Genius and Controversy of Four-Time CEO Hunter Harrison
In Episode 68 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Green discussed the book and Mr. Green’s relationship with Mr. Harrison over the years (see Mr. Green's full bio). They also discussed Canadian National Railway's current play for Kansas City Railroad, including
• Politics: Why the political time might be right for more consolidation.
• Surface Transportation Board: It’s hard to predict which way the STB will rule.
• The Railway Oligopoly: What is the ideal number?
• What to watch: Lobbying.
• What happens next: Other mergers and players that may enter the picture.
June 2, 2021
Episode 66: A Closer Look At Toronto Housing
Michael Kalles, President Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd.
In Episode 66 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Kalles discussed (see his full bio):
• Mr. Kalles’ decision during the depths of the 1994 recession to “go big or go home” with the family’s real estate brokerage business. “Where everyone else was pulling back, we were expanding.” The company’s expansion since then, including into mortgages.
• What surprised you most about Toronto housing over the last year? “What surprised me is how resilient the real estate market is in Toronto.” Despite much lower unit sales during the early days of the pandemic, even distressed sellers received stable prices.
• What do you see today for GTA house prices? “April was a screaming hot month.”
• Demand continues to outstrip supply: Government’s recognize they have to expedite the business process. Toronto prices are severely unaffordable. The pressures of higher rates on incomes.
• Immigration hasn’t picked back up again yet. “We’re still under-building. What do I see? Higher demand.”
May 26, 2021
Episode 65: Sustained Inflationary Pressures
Philip Grant, Associate Publisher Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, Editor Almost Daily Grant’s Commentary
In Episode 65 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Grant (see his full bio) discussed:
• Inflation: “We at Grant’s are anticipating sustained inflationary pressures.” Key indicators include 1) Commodity prices, 2) Housing, 3) Consumer sentiment, and 4) Wage pressure.
• Equities valuations, Crypto Dangers, Stretched Bonds;
• Opportunities: 1) Pockets of value in the U.K. and Japan; 2) Shipping stocks; and 3) Gold: “We believe that monetary policies, in general, have been irresponsible. It’s extremely irresponsible right now with the Fed running their most aggressive [quantitative easing] in the face of a hot economy with declining unemployment. We expect gold to go significantly higher.”
May 25, 2021
Episode 64: Building and Evaluating Corporate Cultures
Tony Gareri, CEO and Chief of WOW, Roma Moulding
In Episode 64 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Gareri discussed (see his full bio):
• How Roma first started and growing up in the family business.
• How the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 shook up the company and how a book by the late Tony Hsieh of Zappos changed everything. The book was about how employee happiness led to customer happiness, which he doubted until he paid for a tour of Zappos and its culture. “I paid money to spend three days in another company to see the magic that they do, and I walked away just blown away."
• How culture is important in investing. “Yes, P&L is very important, but I also look towards who’s the leader of the company.”
• Deciding how to differentiate your business: “Anybody today can make anything. Google commoditized the world. The only differentiator is how you’re going to make people feel. The only way in which you can make someone feel something is if you, in turn, have remarkable people.”
• Leadership and hiring during the pandemic and what will make businesses stronger on the other side.
May 12, 2021
Episode 63: How Investors Can Navigate The Next Era of Corporate Governance
Peter Dey, Chairman of Paradigm Capital, former Chairman of the OSC and co-author of 360 Degree Governance
In Episode 63 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Dey discussed (see his full bio):
• How corporate governance has evolved since the original “Dey Report” in the 1990s;
• The most pressing guidelines proposed in the new report;
• What sector is leading the charge for new governance standards in Canada and why is this important;
• How to tell when a company is using ESG to whitewash deeper problems in the business:
• How institutional investors should think about investing in sectors such as oil & gas that get labelled as environmentally unsustainable;
• Whether companies and boards should have diversity quotas.
May 4, 2021
Episode 62: Wisdom on Investing and Life from a Legend
Pierre Lassonde, Chair Emeritus and co-founder of Franco-Nevada
In Episode 62 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Lassonde discussed (see his full bio):
• How Mr. Lassonde got his start at Beutel Goodman and founded Franco-Nevada with Seymour Schulich, who was President of Beutel Goodman at the time. They took it public with $2 million in 1985 and it is worth $34 billion today.
• The secret to success is in the people: “People is everything. Good people make good things happen.”
• When to invest in gold companies from a risk/reward standpoint and why Marathon Gold (TSX:MOZ) is at that point, in his opinion.
• How to invest in the gold industry: Identifying a good gold company and a bad one.
• Why he owns 12%-13% of Prime Mining (TSXV: PRYM).
• How he got involved with Enghouse (TSX: ENGH) and why that has been another successful investment.
• His outlook for gold, the U.S. dollar and inflation. “I really believe you're going to see US$2,400 gold sometime in the next, I’d say 18 months.”
April 27, 2021
Episode 61: Audit quality and the pandemic - what investors need to know
Carol Paradine, CEO Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB)
In Episode 61 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Ms. Paradine discussed (see her full bio):
• The importance of auditing to the confidence in capital markets;
• The methodology behind CPAB’s recently released 2020 Annual Audit Quality Assessments Report and key findings;
• How the report focuses on areas where problems are likely to be found,” which means it isn’t statistically representative of all auditing in the country. Nevertheless, it found that 29% of the files had a significant inspection finding. “We are concerned about poor inspection results at several of the annually inspected firms, and we are conducting disciplinary panels.”
• How one of the four big accounting firms has repeat problems, why that firm is not publicly disclosed and what improvements are being made to fix problems;
• What investors should focus on in financial statements;
• What has changed in auditing during the pandemic?
• Auditing issues with cannabis, crypto, fraud and going concern evaluations.
April 21, 2021
Episode 60: The White-Hot Cdn. Residential Mortgage Market
Albert Collu, President and CEO of Marathon Mortgage Corp.
In Episode 60 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr.Collu covered (see is full bio):
• Why the doom-and-gloom forecasts for deferral cliffs were so wrong: “The forecasts for what would happen in the housing market couldn’t have been any further from what’s actually going on. In fact, everything you have seen up until this moment sort of blows away any economic model that we’ve ever come across, with the exception of supply and demand.”
• Why the mortgage market is white-hot: “If you had said to me a year ago that we would have to go on a massive hiring spree just to keep up with demand, I probably would have looked at you a little funny.”
• Access to capital and legislation to cool the market: Any time there is tightening legislation, it drives more lending into the private market.
• Predictions for the future, including comments on legislation, immigration and the downtown exodus: “[A year from now] we’re going to sit here still all scratching our heads wondering, how the heck is it possible that the market is still this white-hot.”
Please also see Mr. Collu’s new book: Catapulting Change: Mindful Leadership To Launch Organizations and People. He was also a guest of our Fact-Finding series a year ago: Episode 2: On the ground in Canada’s mortgage industry.
April 20, 2021
Episode 59: The Future of Accounting
Nick Anderson, Member of the International Accounting Standards Board
In episode 59 of our Fact-Finding Series, Anthony and Mr. Anderson discussed (see his full bio):
• Key lessons from the past year: What investors need to continue to focus on, especially with businesses under stress from the pandemic.
• “We really do need to hear from users in terms of what’s important for them,” Mr. Anderson said. Please make yourself heard by completing this 5-minute survey. For more context, please see this investor perspective article written by IASB member Zach Gast encouraging investors to participate.
• Also: Climate change and sustainability reporting, disclosure requirements, supply-chain financing, non-GAAP metrics transparency and goodwill amortization.
April 14, 2021
Episode 58: Investing Like A Gardener
Mark Cullen, Entrepreneur, gardener and spokesperson
Mr. Cullen is an entrepreneur, brand ambassador for Mark’s Choice gardening products and author (see his full bio). His latest book with his son Ben is called Escape to Reality: How the World is Changing Gardening, and Gardening is Changing the World. As the former owner of Weall & Cullen garden centres, which he sold in 2003, Mr. Cullen talks about how his family got into the gardening businesses, its challenges and successes, and eventually why he sold.
Mr. Cullen has a wealth of practical advice about what makes a successful entrepreneur and investor. Anthony and Mr. Cullen discuss this letter that Mr. Cullen wrote his financial advisor Syl Apps (son of the Maples Leafs’ captain) called Investing Advice for 2011. The letter covers what gardening has taught Mr. Cullen about investing, including patience, how everything has a life cycle and harvesting.
April 6, 2021
Episode 57:Defending Freedoms
John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is a federally-registered charity that defends citizens’ freedoms. As the founder and president of the centre, John has devoted his legal career to defending constitutional freedoms through litigation and education. (see his full bio). It has ongoing or pending court actions in five provinces to end Charter-violating lockdowns.
Mr. Carpay and Anthony discussed:
• Restrictions of freedoms: How Canada has restricted our freedoms more in the past 12 months than in WWII?
• Free-Speech: How universities are meant to support debate and free-speech are becoming a thing of the past.
March 31, 2021
Episode 56: Cannabis & Psychedelics: The Science Behind the Story
Hance Clarke, Director of Pain Services, Medical Director of the
Pain Research Unit at the Toronto General Hospital
Mr. Clarke and Anthony discussed what trends investors need to pay attention to in pain management, including (see his full bio):
• Cannabis: How Canada went down the wrong path? What is the science behind the story? What lies ahead for the regulators? What about foreign markets? Who wins, who loses?
• Psychedelics: What is the medical evidence and the regulatory path supporting psychedelics? What do you think happens with this industry and what kind of companies will win?
March 30, 2021
Episode 55: Inside this unstoppable Canadian housing market
John Zinati, real estate lawyer at Zinati Kay
With more than 23,000 real estate transactions completed, Mr. Zinati has a unique perspective on the market with a view into buyers, sellers and financing. Mr. Zinati and Anthony discussed (see his full bio):
• What is the mentality of buyers/sellers/financiers in today’s market?
• How does the past year compare with the previous 35?
• Where is the financing coming from now, and how has that changed from previous years?
• The condo market softened in 2020, while detached housing skyrocketed. What is happening now?
• What key metrics are you watching to monitor the health of the housing market?
March 24, 2021
Episode 54: How Do You Value a Dot-Com Today?
Tom Strezos, Senior Business Advisor in the Valuations Group at Grewal Guyatt LLP
Mr. Strezos is a business valuation expert. He and Anthony discussed (see his full bio):
• The “crazy and loopy” valuations of the dot-com bubble of 2000 and the ensuing crash in which the Nasdaq lost 80% of its value in the next 2.5 years as investors returned to using cash flows to value companies.
• Mr. Strezos wrote an article 20 years ago for The Lawyers Weekly on valuing a Dot-com, in which he tried to place a value on the then-struggling Amazon. The video discusses his methodology then and how investors might value Amazon today.
• What are investors missing as they value tech companies today? When a private company is going public, what should potential shareholders of the public entity look at before investing?
February 4, 2021
Episode 53: The future of Canada's capital markets
Maureen Jensen, Former Chair and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission
Maureen Jensen reflected on her career and journey to be head of the OSC (see her full bio).
She talked about women in capital markets, why Canada desperately needs a national securities regulator and why it has been a hopeless effort to get one, how difficult it is to regulate Bitcoin and why this will be a growing problem for taxation and with criminals, and about the “unbelievable amounts of bureaucracy” in Canada – something she tried hard to cull during her tenure but that is a much bigger problem than the securities industry.
January 26, 2021
Episode 52: Financial statement manipulation is a slippery slope
Chris Mathers, Crime and Risk Consulting Services
We discussed why the pandemic has changed criminality and organized crime, why cybercrime is on the rise and how working-from-home is fueling this fire. We also discussed what to look for when evaluating a management team so that you the investor aren’t being led astray
(see his full bio).
January 20, 2021
Episode 51: Professional Skepticism for ESG and Sustainability Ratings
Charles Cho, Professor of Accounting & Erivan K. Haub Chair, Schulich School of Business, York University – Business & Sustainability
Professor Cho shed light on the latest trends in ESG and Sustainability Reporting, including which what investors need to be on the lookout for. He discussed how reporting standards need to consider materiality in both financial and non-financial terms, as well as how society needs to rethink the concept of a corporation’s beneficiaries: Investors or Society at large (see his full bio).
January 13, 2021
Episode 50: Electric Vehicle Irrational Exuberance?
Dimitry Anastakis, LR Wilson/RJ Currie Chair in Canadian Business History, Professor - Rotman School of Management – University of Toronto History Department
Despite electric vehicles (EVs) constituting only about 3% of North American auto sales, Tesla’s hyper-growth is seen as a validation of the EV’s arrival. But in 1900, electric vehicles constituted nearly 40% of American car purchases. Dimitry Anastakis, professor and author of numerous books and articles on the history of the auto industry in North America, talked to us about the EV’s second historical moment and what lessons we can take from its first (see his full bio).
December 15, 2020
Episode 49: A strategic reboot for Canada to get going
David Dodge, Senior Advisor Bennett Jones LLP and former Governor of the Bank of Canada
The economic backdrop heading into 2021; What Canada should do to improve our economic positioning with the Biden administration; The danger in the federal government building up excessive debt; How to address Canada’s productivity problem; Why China's currency will overtake the U.S. dollar as the global currency this decade (see his full bio).