Tracking the trends

For Eric Sprott, FCPA, FCA, chair of investment firm Sprott Inc., careful analysis leads to opportunities.

How do you define good leadership?

A lot of people think the leader is necessarily the CEO, but it might be a great chemist or physicist in the back room who is coming up with the goods. If we're not talking just about the CEO, I would define it as people who excel in their field.

What leadership skills do you need to succeed in your industry?

In the financial business you've got to create value for your customers. It's about being very careful in assessing the numbers. It's seeing the trend and, in particular, the trend reverse itself. That's where the big opportunities arise.

What is your biggest challenge now?

The biggest challenge people in our industry have is that there are forces in the markets that are abnormal. I'm referring to central banks and the things they do to suggest that all is well — zero interest rates and printing money. We all know it's not sustainable. So it's how you play that game.

What more should universities be doing to prepare new leaders?

I personally think general education today is probably a waste of time and money. We're already witnessing that people who get general degrees have very little opportunity to get a good-paying job, if they can even get a job. I have a BComm. I have a CPA. Which has been more valuable? By far the CPA. There is always a demand for people who have accounting designations.

What is the main thing a new leader should know?

As I define leadership, you have to be an independent analyst of the data in your industry and use that to figure out where the true opportunities are.

Eric Sprott has more than 40 years of experience in the investment industry and is a prominent philanthropist. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2013. He earned a BComm from Carleton University in 1965 and received his chartered accountant designation in 1968.