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How Equitable Bank's CEO invests his own money

Equitable Bank CEO Andrew Moor.

Equitable Bank chief executive officer Andrew Moor's first foray into investing was in his native Britain in the mid-1980s, when then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher pushed the privatization of public assets. He bought some telecom and utility stocks that turned out to be good bets.

Mr. Moor broadened his portfolio while working for CIBC World Markets in London and then later Toronto. His first private investment was in workspace furniture and design company Smed International Inc. when he joined as its chief financial officer in 1996. He later became president until Smed was sold in 2000.

Mr. Moor used a portion of the proceeds to invest in mortgage brokerage company Invis Inc., which he bought with partners. It was sold three years later to a division of HSBC.

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Today, about half of Mr. Moor's personal wealth is in Equitable Bank. It and other alternative lender stocks were dragged down recently amid regulatory and financial troubles faced by industry competitor Home Capital Group Inc. Mr. Moor, who has said Equitable's business is "demonstrably different" than Home Capital's, spoke to The Globe and Mail recently about what's in his portfolio and his overall investment strategy.

What's in your portfolio today, outside of Equitable Group?

It's primarily ETFs [exchange-traded funds] and GICs [guaranteed investment certificates]; more equity weighted. I like to have some international diversification. About 50 per cent of my portfolio is Canada and the rest outside of the country in places like the U.S. and Europe. I also have a townhouse in Fernie, B.C., that I bought in 2000. As a guy from England, I dreamed of having a ski place. It's my heaven on earth. We've also had a pretty good return on that property; something I thought was the luxurious thing to buy.

What's your investing philosophy?

I am very interested in the underlying academic theory of markets. I believe markets are relatively efficient and that it's impossible to beat the market on an ongoing basis.

My general approach is to diversify my investments across a range of economic places with the ETF positions I take. I don't try to outsmart the market, but try to track it. If I can track it, I'm happy with it. It's perhaps a little boring, but I think the academic evidence is clear.

Do you invest on your own or use an adviser?

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I do it myself. I use a discount broker.

What's the best investment move you've made to date?

The three businesses that I've run and put capital into have all worked out well for me: Smed, then Invis and now Equitable. That has been the underlying win; to combine the investment with career experience.

You can put money into a business and then get the leverage through doing the right thing and managing the business properly so that you create value for your own equity.

That's been the best experience, for sure.

What's been the worst investment you've made to date?

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I bought some BCE floating rate preferred shares, believing that they were a substitute for a savings account. Turns out they weren't. I bought them around $22 in mid-2014 and sold them around $14 at the end of 2016, thinking I bought a safe investment. It was a relatively modest amount of money, but it was still pretty painful.

What's your advice for investors, based on your experience to date?

Be very concerned about the cost of investing. Choose funds with low [management expense ratios] and don't try to be too clever.

This interview has been edited and condensed. For this series, a high-net-worth investor has investable assets of more than $750,000.

Editor’s Note An earlier version said Andrew Moor joined Smed International Inc. in 2006. In fact, it was 1996.
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About the Author
Contributor

Brenda Bouw is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver. She has more than 20 years of experience as a business reporter, including at The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press, the Financial Post and was executive producer at BNN (formerly ROBTv). Brenda was also part of the Globe and Mail reporting team that won the 2010 National Newspaper Award for business journalism. More

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