From his offices high above Miami’s Brickell Avenue, Eli Butnaru oversees Mora Wealth Management’s daily operations while working with clients to help create customized investments for their assets.
Butnaru, chief executive of Mora Wealth Management USA, joined the company last August, prior to opening the Miami office in October.
He brings more than two decades of experience in international banking, having held senior management positions with Citibank, and most recently, leading the Palm Beach and Miami practices of UBS-AG.
We met Butnaru in his offices on the 29th floor of 1450 Brickell, and then he responded via email to these questions:
Q. Mora Wealth Management is relatively new to the Miami scene. Please tell us about the company, its history, ownership, and size, including assets under management.
A. Mora Wealth Management belongs to the MoraBanc group. Founded in 1952, the group has preserved a strong tradition in the field of private banking. Its Andorran shareholding is in the hands of the entity’s founding families.
Professional service, quality and financial strength are the foundations of MoraBanc group, which has about 6.3 billion euros (nearly $8 billion) under management as of December 31, 2011.
Q. Tell me about Andorra. Is it experiencing the same problems as other European economies such as Spain and Greece?
A. While Andorra has not been immune to the plights of its European neighbors, MoraBanc has not suffered, thanks to MoraBanc’s solid investment policy and conservative asset-liability management. As a result of its cautious approach, and anticipating a major economic slump, MoraBanc has proactively managed its balance sheet according to sound and conservative banking principles. MoraBanc sports a very high solvency ratio (29 percent) and liquidity ratio (101.6 percent), as of December 31, 2011
This spring, Moody’s, as it has done for seven consecutive years, reaffirmed MoraBanc’s A2 rating, giving it a “stable” outlook.
And earlier this month, the financial publication, The Banker, part of the Financial Times Ltd., ranked MoraBanc 26th out of 1,000 banks worldwide, in terms of solvency.
Q. Why did you choose to open an office in Miami and how did you pick your site?
A. Europeans and Latin Americans have steadily made Miami the de facto international wealth management center of the West. During the past several decades, Miami has become a preferred destination for those who want to establish a second home. While generally known as a prime vacation spot, Miami has evolved into a fairly advanced cultural and financial center. These facts, combined with the diversity of its population, make Miami a prime hub for establishing Mora Wealth Management’s America operations.
The office site was chosen given the impeccable location and design of the building, the commitment to green standards, and the superior street access. This clean look reflects the seriousness of our endeavor.
Q. It seems that it would be particularly challenging to open a wealth management office during an economic downturn. Why did you choose to open at this time?
A. It is precisely during downturns and tough economic circumstances that Mora Wealth Management can add value. Our disciplined approach to risk management can clearly be demonstrated during challenging times. Risk management is the cornerstone of our asset management philosophy.