The importance of staying the course

Tough times gave Manulife Securities’ Andrew Oproiu the conviction he needed to succeed as a financial advisor

The importance of staying the course
When discussing his place in the wealth management business, Andrew Oproiu points to 2010 as a formative period – although it’s not a time he looks back on with any great fondness. After a disagreement with his partner at Manulife Securities, he found himself out of work, and when bad turned to worse, he even ended up living in his car.

Job interview after job interview came and went, all with the same negative outcome. Despite those disappointments, Oproiu’s faith in his own ability to manage money never wavered, and eventually he received the break he was looking for. That opportunity came with the same company – Manulife – and one team in particular.

“I met with Elie Nour at Manulife and said to him that I would do $7 million in assets in a year or I would walk away from the industry,” Oproiu says. “I lived up to that promise, and now I’m at sitting at $23 million, and I plan on being at $30 million by the end of the year.”

It’s a lofty ambition, but given his career trajectory since coming on board with the Elie Nour Group in 2013, it’s not an unrealistic one. Such growth will come through an approach to investing that has served him well so far.

“I’m not a day trader – I look to buy quality investments,” Oproiu says. “I like to buy stocks at a discount, so I will go shopping for individual equities, but I’m not going to speculate or short sell. Last year, my worst portfolio was up 2% and my best was up 4%, and I could have done better if I had more US exposure.”

With the TSX enjoying a bumper year, many have predicted that equities could be set for a fall in the near future. Oproiu is not one of those voices, however, and in his opinion, the doom-and-gloom forecasts are misguided.

“It’s a different market these days,” he says. “China is going to become a consumer economy, so money is still going to be pumped into the system. I don’t see why Canada has to go back to 12,000 on the TSX or the Dow Jones has to crash.”

That’s not to suggest that Oproiu has been going all in on equities over the past year. In fact, fixed income still makes up the majority of his various books. His investment strategy is dictated by how things are on the ground, so being flexible is key.

“I don’t like to use a rigid set of rules for investing,” he says. “My standard asset allocation is 60% fixed income, 10% cash, and then 20% Canada, 10% US. Back in the spring, I increased fixed income across my portfolios.”

Now that Oproiu has risen through the ranks and earned his stripes as a financial advisor – winning both the 2016 Wealth Professional Newcomer of the Year Award and Nour Group’s Rising Star Award in 2014 – his primary MO is to gain returns for his clients.

As such, earning commissions is something he doesn’t feel the need to shy away from discussing. Although CRM2 has many in the industry worried that clients will balk at advisors’ commissions once they are spelled out in black and white, Oproiu has always been upfront with his clients about what he’s being paid and says they have no problem with the idea that advisors can do pretty well on commissions if the results are there.

“When I buy a DSC mutual fund and make my 5% commission, I tell my clients that money is not coming from their initial capital,” he says. “If you sell your investments, then that’s when the fees come in. My clients aren’t turned off by the fact I make money, and I shouldn’t be embarrassed that I get paid for what I do. So I don’t have a problem with CRM2.”