Arlene Dickinson, President
Venture Communications Inc.
Best investment: “Apart from my business, I’ve had really good success in the real estate market, and it’s mostly been through my own homes or through investment properties that I’ve bought throughout the years. I’ve had anywhere from 30% to 50% return on those investments.”
Safety net: “I’m a big believer in RRSPs. I also have a universal life policy, because it’s good for the company and good for me at retirement age. If something happens to me, the company is protected, but also if and when I retire, I have a quasi-pension plan. I’m also putting together a succession plan and making sure it’s as tax-effective as it can be in terms of an exit strategy.”
Ariel Shlien, CEO
The Mad Science Group
Investment strategy: “You need to have the time and energy to track and pick and analyze. So instead of buying and selling stocks and bonds and funds on my own, I networked like crazy to find the very best private-wealth manager around.”
Safety net: “When my wife got pregnant, we put an estate plan in place. Because my business partner is my brother, we’ve put buy/sell agreements and the proper life insurance in place. You have to make sure those things are set up properly so that if something terrible happens, the business survives.”
Ann Kaplan, President & CEO
Medicard Finance Inc.
Best investment: “My own companies. I understand my own business, I understand what I’m capable of. I don’t believe that I understand the stock markets enough to invest in equities.”
Safety net: “All of [my family’s] assets are kept in trusts. In the business I have key-man insurance, because the bank and investors want to know there’s some way of taking care of the business if I go.
“I think a big part is not to change your lifestyle until you’ve made your money. Too often I see people who feel they’ve ‘made it’, so they spend money before they really have made it. I refuse to do that.”
Dale Gillespie, Chairman
Liquidation World Inc.
Best investment: “A financial adviser told me to sell $1 million of Liquidation World stock so that I’d have some cash. I left it with the adviser to reinvest. It went to $1.35 million and then it promptly went to $835,000. So I invested it in a hedge fund. The returns from it over the past three or four years in a tough market have been phenomenal, about 33% a year.”
Safety net: “Three or four years ago I didn’t have a pension or significant life insurance. So the company set aside funds to buy insurance and a pension that pays at age 75. And I’ve maxed out my RRSPs.”
David Cynamon, CEO
KIK Corp., Concord, Ont.
Co-owner, Toronto Argonauts
Best investment: “My No. 1 investment is my business, but I have conservative investments outside of it. I have put some of my extra capital in some equities funds that have returned very well. I also invest in a few groups that invest in mortgages and real estate. I look for returns of anywhere from 9% to 11%, and I’m doing so on a first-mortgage basis for mortgages that banks sometimes don’t want to finance. The Argos aren’t a big investment. When we complete the building of a new stadium in about three years, we’ll start to see a return on the whole package.”
Safety net: “I think I have a well thought-out estate plan and a life-insurance plan that protect my family in the event that something happens to me and my assets.”