Gautam Duggal, regional head of wealth management for Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and head of wealth management for the UAE, Standard Chartered Bank, tells Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East about his expectations for 2018. Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East: How do you see the Gulf economy in 2018? We expect economic growth in the Gulf […]
Gautam Duggal, regional head of wealth management for Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and head of wealth management for the UAE, Standard Chartered Bank, tells Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East about his expectations for 2018.
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East: How do you see the Gulf economy in 2018?
We expect economic growth in the Gulf to remain muted in 2018 on the back of the prolonged decline in oil revenues. While oil producers in the Gulf are expected to maintain lower output levels as per their committed targets, a rebound in US inventories and upbeat forecasts for US shale output indicate limited price gains. The resulting shortfalls against breakeven oil prices will likely force Gulf governments to continue with their fiscal tightening measures, limiting economic growth further. Though Saudi Arabia and UAE have made positive strides in the implementation of VAT, there is still some way to go before the potential VAT earnings boost non-oil revenues across the Gulf.
What are the major headwinds in your industry, and how do you plan to mitigate them
Common challenges in the banking industry includes increasing competition from technology companies, such as fintech, online brokerage and robo advisors. Their increasing popularity can be seen as a threat for traditional banks. These are developments that we all are aware of and we are making sure to stay aligned with what customers are looking for now and we are enhancing our digital capabilities. For example, we have developed MCE which is aimed at providing market views to clients 24/7.
Regulatory requirements are constantly increasing and we with our legal and compliance teams we are always making sure we are compliant and respective the local laws in each of our markets, and trying to improve our overall business foundations by learning, adapting and changing regulations with the intention of growth & stability. Keeping in mind, the line of business we are in, we believe in open and honest conversations with our regulators which will help solve challenges from a regulatory perspective.
I feel the best way to operate to overcome any challenge would be through a transparent communication approach.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities in the Middle East?
The emerging affluent often stick to basic retail products and investing can sound like a huge leap for them. We focus on raising awareness and education for them with a simple approach to investments.
For instance, everyone needs to have a life cover, and the earlier they start to save the smaller the premium they would pay. For investments, it is possible to invest as low as US$200 per month and get a monthly return. Our wealth options are affordable for the mass affluent and we believe there is an untapped potential in this segment.
For wealth managers, the biggest opportunity lies in the integration of FinTech into your operating model. We have been actively incorporating innovation and technology in our approach to clients, how to get meaningful information across to them and also how they can access information at their fingertips. Earlier in the year, Standard Chartered launched “Market Views on-the-go” which is a powerful tool through which clients can access market views 24/7.
What significant regional plans do you have for 2018?
We have made significant investments in digitising our offering across UAE & some of our markets in Africa. This will ensure clients have an effective and efficient way of growing their relationship with us. Our main objective is to offer outstanding value to our clients by providing a knowledgeable, efficient and reliable service in a personal, helpful and responsive manner.
Without a doubt, the most talked about change in the Wealth Management space is the use of artificial intelligence. Use of artificial intelligence in areas like advisory based on needs, end to end execution platforms are some of developments which impacts both consumers and providers. While a lot of organisations provide these services, there is a long way to go for the adoption of these services. Over the next few years most organisations will look to evolve their operating model by digitising and automating their offering / platform. This will ensure quicker access to data, faster execution, reduction in risks, improving overall governance
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