Tim Sears, 52, of Ottawa
First Stock: Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.
When I was 16 years old, my father gifted me a stock certificate – back in the days when those paper documents still existed – for five shares of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. It was trading for about $50 at that time, so worth about $250.
He told me that if I held those shares for five years and then decided to sell them, he would match what they were worth. The shares rose to $500, so I sold them for $2,500, and he gave me $2,500. I used the money to help pay some bills through university.
I have purchased Fairfax stock on and off again over the years. I don’t own it now. I moved on to some new-economy names like Apple Inc. AAPL-Q, Microsoft Corp. MSFT-Q and Google parent Alphabet Inc GOOGL-Q. It has been good for the most part, but I have also been investing in more conservative names lately, in particular more broader-market index funds.
What did you learn from the experience?
That initial experience with Fairfax got me interested in the stock market, especially when I saw how much wealth you could earn over a lifetime just by investing in good stocks for the long term. Even if the market crashes, you come out ahead and if you can handle volatility, you’re better off doing that than buying GICs and bonds, in my view.
It was also one of the best teaching experiences of my life. My dad, who worked for the federal government, followed the stock market and invested a lot. He educated me about investors like Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch and their investment philosophies. He showed me how to make my money work for me, instead of me working for my money.
Today, I manage my investment portfolio and follow the stock market religiously. I love how it is the greatest wealth creator in the history of the world. I also think it’s what inspired me, in part, to pursue a career in finance. I worked for a broker for a few years before working for various treasury departments and pension funds.
I also helped my dad a bit with his investments over the years, before he passed away. He made a lot of money on companies like Canadian National Railway Co. and the bank stocks by simply buying and holding them.
Advice for other investors:
Hold good stocks, and you’ll be fine. The market is correcting hard again, and I tell my friends, “Just wait, this will pass.” If you’re buying very speculative stocks, that’s a completely different story. But if you buy companies with lots of money [that] are good, solid businesses, they’ll rebound.
As told to Brenda Bouw. This interview has been edited and condensed.
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