Money & Me: Romanian in Dubai has the future mapped out
Adriana Usvat is the managing partner at FLC Group, a Dubai-based marketing services agency. Before setting up FLC Group in 2008, the Romanian, 39, worked for a Russian oil company across several countries. Ms Usvat moved to the UAE 14 years ago and currently lives in Dubai.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
I was raised in Romania and was a happy child. My parents gave me lots of love and asked me to work hard for everything I wanted. I had weekly tasks from my first grade and received a weekly allowance to do what I wanted with. I started buying my own clothes at the age of seven. It made sense to me and still does – it was the perfect combination of hard work and reaping the rewards. I try to apply the same principle today in my company.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
I remember my first official job fondly. I was 18 at the time. My dad allowed me to work as a stockbroker, as long as I managed to maintain my scholarship at university. My salary would have probably been US$100 to $150 per month. The experience, however, was priceless.
Are you a spender or saver?
There is absolutely no doubt I am a saver. I like investing and multiplying money. I also enjoy spending part of what I have earned from different investments. Rewarding yourself is always good.
What is your philosophy towards money?
I was in Romania during the revolution in 1989 when my country was freed from communism. I was still a kid, however I remember everything: standing in huge lines to buy food and the empty supermarkets. I also remember people being positive despite the situation. This has shaped my character. We had no maids and we were home alone while our parents were at work trying to earn a living. Today I would never stand in a line to enter a club or disco because for me lines are associated with necessities, not with the mere need to have fun.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?
Fear paralyses us and is unconstructive. I was worried, yes. When we opened the business back in 2008, I had a car loan, a mortgage to pay, a business to develop and no salary. I decided to move out of my apartment and live with a friend; I rented out my apartment and let the income pay for the mortgage. With one thing off the list, I could concentrate more on the business. One year later, I moved back into my apartment.
Where do you save your money?
In a mixed portfolio of bonds, shares, real estate and lately I’ve been looking at gold.
Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?
Credit card and I pay before the due date. This way I can benefit from the cash back.
What has been your best investment?
Investing in myself, be it in my education, leisure, passions or peace of mind.
What do you most regret spending money on?
I have always tried to live a life with no regrets. I carefully analyse all my expenditures, knowing when to invest or when to simply splurge.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
Spend more on yourself, that is more on education, more on travel, more on experiencing things and broadening your horizons.
Do you have a plan for the future?
Yes, and it is perfectly mapped out. I have a vision board in front of my bed so that I see it every day. I review it weekly to see which element I have not managed to focus on yet.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
I’d work on further diversifying my investment portfolio by investing more in stocks as well as a new property, probably somewhere in Europe.