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Middle East

The Middle East: A Wealth of Opportunity and Challenges Ahead


Mar 5, 2019

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Hubbis is delighted that our delegates and speakers all enjoyed a remarkably positive and insightful day on January 22 in Dubai, when we hosted our 4th annual Middle East Wealth Management Forum.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region continues to present an enticing and opportunity in wealth management for domestic and foreign players alike, and an increasingly sophisticated regulatory, products and services environment for clients and providers alike.

Our full-day agenda included ten presentations and talks, two immensely detailed workshops, and five thought-provoking panel discussions. Combined, these gave the attendees a remarkable depth of vision into the wealth market as it stands today, the opportunities and challenges it faces, and how it can evolve to the next levels.

The event was exclusively designed for CEOs, senior management, product gatekeepers and relationship managers from the leading local Private Banks, Securities Firms, Asset Management Companies, Retail Banks, IFAs, Family Offices, Insurance Companies and various Wealth Management Firms.

The Forum proved without doubt that the wealth management industry is evolving and improving in most of the key facets that are required for success. The regulators are working diligently and insightfully to help improve practices and standards of professionalism, for the end clients and for the industry’s main protagonists. Institutions in the Middle East, as well as more and more international firms, are gravitating to the UAE as a growing base for serving clients in the GCC countries as well as to service the opportunities increasingly manifesting themselves in North Africa. Both the onshore and offshore elements of the wealth market are advancing apace.

But the Forum delegates also learned that there is much work to be done as the market reaches out towards the international standards, practices and general dynamism and diversity of benchmark markets such as Singapore, or Hong Kong. Professionalism, the nurturing of talent and embracing technology and digitalisation are all essential areas, for example, where real progress must, and no doubt will be made.

Malik Sarwar, CEO of wealth management firm KS2 Leaders, USA and also Chairman of Hubbis, summed up much of this in his brief but well-chosen closing remarks. Sarwar recommended that delegates each thought about and took away three key messages from all the talks and discussions that they felt were highly relevant to their growth as professionals and as individuals. And he closed the event by exhorting the attendees to embrace real, solid values, and to become role models as professionals and as people for their current clients and the younger generations of clients in the future.

We have set out below a snapshot of the talks, presentations, workshops and panel discussions that made January 22 such a positive and informative day. We thank all our excellent speakers and presenters and our delegates and we look forwarding to welcoming you again in January 2020.


The Panel Discussions

Panel Discussion 1

Driving the Middle East Wealth Management Proposition Forward

A panel of eminent private bankers and asset managers assembled to cogitate on the state of the Middle East wealth management market. If there was one overriding conclusion from the experts, it was that the client must be first, last and everything in between. In a world both challenged and enhanced by technology, the wealth management market, at least in the Middle East, will likely remain driven by human skills and relationships., both through the good and the more difficult market conditions.  
Panel Discussion


Panel Discussion 2

Digital Solutions for Faster, Cheaper and Smarter Wealth Management

A smart panel of digital solutions experts and online platform providers mulled over the state-of-the-art for digitalisation in the global wealth management industry, and its applications to the current environment in the Middle East. The delegates at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum were treated to some sharp insights on topics ranging from digital adoption to the arrival of Big Tech.


Panel Discussion 3

What Challenges do Wealthy Families in the Middle East Face Today?

Expert panellists on matters of family wealth and transition assembled at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum to mine down into current issues of concern for high-net-worth (HNW) families in the region. They surveyed the challenges to wealth preservation, including staying on the right side of the mercurial local and global tax regulations, investing smartly and compliantly, fears over loss of privacy, and the relative benefits of onshore structuring in the UAE versus the traditional offshore routes, and how to smoothly transition wealth to the younger generations.


Panel Discussion 4

Developing the product and advisory proposition in the Middle East

The Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum offered the audience to listen in to a fascinating, broad-ranging discussion covering the development of the Middle East high-net-worth (NHW) investor psychology, the wealth management industry’s evolution and perspectives on global asset allocation.


Panel Discussion 5

Opportunities for GCC’s HNWIs – Investment Experts Survey Global Landscape

In the final panel discussion of the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum, several leading investment professionals and senior assets and markets experts surveyed the opportunities for investors in the GCC region and analysed the key developments that have emerged and the key products and trends to watch out for in the future.


Keynote Address

Time to Evolve More Agile and Innovative Ways of Doing Business

Peter Huber, Chief Executive Officer of Zurich International Life (Zurich) is at the cutting edge of the international life insurance market’s evolution. He told the audience at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum that the global economic environment remains challenging, regulation is intensifying, digitalisation is advancing, but also that the growth of private wealth globally offers outstanding potential for firms that can forge and maintain their own unique identity with customers.


The Presentations

Fintech, its Implementation and the Bottom Line for Financial Service Providers

Fahad Versey, Head of Distribution for the UAE at Union Insurance is a keen proponent of fintech, which is revolutionising the delivery of financial services across the globe. In the world of insurance, fintech brings many challenges and opportunities that Versey outlined to the delegates at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum.


Time is Money in Financial Services

Philip Story, Head of Distribution for EMEA at Investors Trust Assurance (ITA), advised attendees at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum that embracing new technological systems and solutions can enhance customer service and increase earnings. Streamlining processes, delivering upon promises and prioritising face-to-face client contact are the keys to successful wealth management for today’s world. Besides, deciding early whether to aim for scale or boutique specialisation will help focus efforts and assets in the right direction.


The Road Ahead: Fast Forward Towards Wealth Management 2.1

F. Edward Lopez, Chief Revenue Officer of fintech JHC Financial, believes that wealth management firms and private banks must embrace digitalisation as a core fundamental of their DNA. He knows from broad experience that the digital revolution is far more than just front-office engagement. And he also knows how to offer and introduce firm-wide oversight at the fingertips of the business heads, powered with new tech tools for the C-suite.


Casamont Highlights the Cyprus Prime Real Estate and Citizenship Programme

An unusual diversion from the typical Hubbis event agenda appeared in the form of a presentation on the Cyprus real estate market and how it can be blended to the country’s citizenship by investment programme. The talk was presented by another rarity in the form of Russian citizen Ilya Kustov, who is s senior manager of Casamont Cyprus, which is promoting exceptional lifestyle properties such as the homes found on Citrine Estates.


A Regulatory Update from the Dubai Financial Services Authority

Christian Cameron, associate director of supervision at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) gave an insightful and informative address at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum to highlight the core regulatory initiatives the Authority has taken in recent years to improve the growth and quality of the funds and asset management industry, and to explain some of the current proposals under consideration to further propel growth.


The Emerging GCC Regulatory Landscape

Muneer Khan, Partner, Financial Markets at law firm Simmons & Simmons addressed the audience at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum to convey his views on the regulatory landscape in the region. In an informative presentation, he covered vital areas such as the UAE’s cross-border regime, DFSA’s current requirements, codified exemptions versus tolerated practices, reverse enquiries, documentary procedures and risk-mitigation through correct policies and procedures.


The HNW Insurance Market has Changed – How Do You Win?

Jeroen Simons, Director, High Net Worth Business Development at Sun Life Financial, told the audience what has been happening in the HNW insurance market, and explained how, in his view, brokers, bankers and external asset managers can adapt their strategies to take advantages of the many opportunities. He also highlighted why more bankers and financial advisers should be interested in HNW insurance.


Family Wealth Protection and Succession – Trusts and Structures for the MENA Region

Laurence Black, Regional Director, Client Solutions, EMEA at Asiaciti Trust is an expert in the arena of structuring family wealth for preservation and ease of transition to family members and younger generations. Dynastic planning is vital to ensure family harmony and personal legacy aspirations and due care and attention is essential. And nowadays, the GCC region offers more potential for onshore structures, rather than clients turning only to offshore vehicles, in synch with what is now a worldwide trend towards onshore and mid-shore.



How Technology and Partnerships Can Enhance the Delivery of Wealth Management

Damian Hitchen, Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East & Asia at digital trading/custody platform provider Swissquote presented a fascinating Workshop at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum in which he surveyed the world of financial services and warned that wealth management firms in the Middle East must embrace technology solutions. Partnerships and outsourcing are vital in order to help firms evolve their products and services, to bolster their revenues and to strengthen them against the inevitable wave of new competitors sweeping across the leading economies worldwide.

Hitchen has a truly global perspective from Swissquote’s worldwide business operations. Looking at the Middle East, he is concerned that many of the incumbent wealth management and financial firms are slow to realise the impact that technology is having across the globe on the delivery of financial services and therefore of the competitive environment.

Hitchen knows, from his broad experience, that change in the wealth management industry is inevitable and that it must not be ignored. He implored the audience to action, arguing that the only false step is to do nothing.



Impacting and Delighting Clients with Transformational Wealth Management

Malik Sarwar, CEO of wealth management firm KS2 Leaders USA and also Chairman of Hubbis, has forthright views on the state of the wealth management industry and what its stakeholders need to do to take it to the next level of growth and success. He provided a fascinating, energetic, audience-participative Workshop at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum to communicate his concepts of what makes a well-rounded adviser in a successful advisory firm.

In Sarwar’s world, there is one word that sums up the mission for private bankers and wealth managers to be successful, and that is ‘worth’. Client-centricity, respect, understanding, transparency, integrity, quality, efficiency, dedication, consistency, service, all these elements, and more are wrapped up in the concept of ‘worth’.


A Post-Event Survey and Review

The Hubbis 2019 wealth management event programme now includes a post-event Survey of delegates. This is a precious element to help refine our understanding of the impact of the events and then to guide us towards tailoring our future events even more accurately to our clients and their needs.

We are delighted to report that our delegates at the Hubbis Middle East Wealth Management Forum were diligent in their replies and we offer a brief snapshot of some of the key findings here.

In brief, the audience evidently found the event comprehensive, interesting, informative and thought-provoking. We extend our sincere thanks to the delegates and all our speakers for making this year’s event both dynamic and rewarding.

Thank you all,