“In many ways, my grandfather and his generation enjoyed a much simpler world. First of all, he was raised before radio and TV became a right for all Canadians to have in their house. His generation truly did not know how the other half lived. He grew up in a depression and fought in WWII. Coming back home to raise a family, having a secure job for life, a roof, clothes and food on the table was a pretty good deal in his eyes.”
Why I can’t invest like my grandpa
I loved my grandfather. It was a special relationship, in part, because my paternal grandfather passed away before I was born. My mom’s father was part of that extraordinary generation that came through the depression, fought in WWII and built the nation we are lucky to live in. He wasn’t a rocket scientist, a doctor or a lawyer but he was 10 feet tall to me. As he liked to say, he was in the “transportation business”. He was a city bus driver for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission).
I can remember as a little boy the day this big bus parked outside my house. It was the “Bellamy 9” (which was my grandfather’s old route) and his route ended close to our house. He drove it to our place when it was off service and I can remember my brother and a few neighbours getting to jump on the bus – while we got to sit in the driver’s seat and wear his TTC hat. Imagine, my grandfather was a bus driver and my friends thought he had the coolest job! My grandfather embodied what was so special about his generation. Everyone had a job to do and you did it. Many worked for the same company for their entire working life. On a bus driver’s salary, he raised 4 kids and Nanna took care of the house.
In 1985 I had just completed high school. I remember asking my grandpa why he didn’t go to university and never seemed to care that he spent his whole life working for the TTC. My generation was brought up if you didn’t go to university, somehow you’d be an epic failure in life. I was interested because my grandfather was smart, especially with math. I can remember how he could add, subtract, divide and multiply without paper or a calculator. It was amazing. I’d ask questions like 4 ¾ + 5 1/8 x 17 and boom, he’d have the answer. He did all this with a Grade 8 education.
I asked him – did he regret not going to university and only working as a bus driver? He told me he grew up in the Depression and his father came from a generation that valued “more earning and less learning” so when he finished Grade 8, if was off to work for him to find odd jobs until he joined the army in WWII. In the war he drove trucks, so when the war was over, he went to work as a bus driver to provide for his wife and young family. For him, there was less choice and when you had mouths to feed, that became your priority.
I admit that I’m a workaholic and lot of who I am is what I do. My grandpa was opposite, he believed work was something you did to survive and life was about living, not working. I supposed the day will come when I lie on my deathbed and decide who was right, but there was a big difference from his generation to my generation – and it’s affected how I work and why I work.
In many ways, my grandfather and his generation enjoyed a much simpler world. First of all, he was raised before radio and TV became a right for all Canadians to have in their house. His generation truly did not know how the other half lived. He grew up in a depression and fought in WWII. Coming back home to raise a family, having a secure job for life, a roof, clothes and food on the table was a pretty good deal in his eyes. Having a government job, he didn’t worry about losing his job in bad times because that meant more people would need to take a bus to get around. Maybe in his own way he figured out the importance of job security and the comfort of a steady job instead of worrying about the risk of working in the private sector.
I couldn’t be a bus driver. I have a university education. I grew up watching Lives of the Rich & Famous. But I also grew up in the troubled economic times of the late 70’s / early 80’s, an era that killed my father’s business. I had to watch my parents try to survive with 5 kids in tow. As a teenager I witnessed the social contract between employee and employer break when millions were laid off and job security in the private sector vanished along with pensions. A situation I saw repeated as an adult in 2008. Which is why I can’t be like my grandfather. I’ve been exposed to things he never saw – as I was never exposed to what he saw.
When it came to investing grandpa’s strategy was simple; he’d have a pension for life and he invested in blue chip stock. The stuff you bought and forgot. He bought stocks like GM, Nortel and Bell. Blue chip stocks that paid dividends and went up every year. If he were alive today, what would he think of Bell divided, GM bankrupt and Nortel gone? This was something that was considered impossible in the 70’s. Greater interdependence and emerging economies make North American and European behemoths increasingly vulnerable to market change.
At TriView, we focus primarily on real estate in strong economies like Alberta, Texas and Arizona. We see opportunity in residential, commercial, retail and industrial but investing in specific sectors and specific locations takes experience and local knowledge.
It’s an area where stock brokers and mutual fund reps can’t help you diversify your portfolio. At this time, traditional investment in stock markets can be risky given the market cycle and volatility we’ve seen over the past few weeks. Given the potential of inflation, bonds may be risky as well. In fact, I was at a Family Office conference a couple of weeks ago in Vancouver and noticed many of them are putting large reserves in cash mainly due to their fear of the stock and bond markets. A natural hedge to inflation and volatility is hard assets like real estate or gold.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing information on why we like real estate and what areas we specifically like. We’ll go even further and discuss what particular sector and what region we believe will be a good investment as well as a natural hedge against inflation. If you want to learn more sooner than later, please visit us at www.triviewcapital.com or contact us toll free at 1-855-984-6570.
President & CEO
TriView Capital Ltd.