The heads of the largest private banks in the Middle East discuss investment trends in 2014 and beyond
Sobhi Tabbara, Global Head, HSBC Private Bank, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey
Do Middle East-based clients prefer to hold their money in international private banking centres or do they prefer to keep it onshore?
Traditionally, the Middle East has been a classic offshore private banking market served out of centres like the UK and Switzerland. However, high-net-worth investors are increasingly looking for private banking services from alternative centres such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Generally, although most clients like to retain a portion of their portfolio onshore, the majority diversify part of their wealth outside the Middle East. For these clients, a bank’s ability to connect with leading private banking centres like Switzerland, Singapore, London and Hong Kong, is key.
How do private bankers deal with competition in a crowded marketplace?
Private banking has already moved away from being purely about asset allocation, and this will continue. In the future, the best private banks will be those that can help clients actively manage their full portfolios. In addition to managing wealth, they will be helping clients grow their businesses or release value [through strategic acquisitions or public offerings], helping them to protect value [through services such as generation planning] and guiding clients to put governance in place, designing how assets should be managed in the future.
Rob Broedelet, Country Executive, UAE, ABN Amro Private Banking
Why is private banking developing more rapidly in the GCC compared to mature markets, such as Europe and North America?
It is primarily because ‘wealth creation’ is occurring at a much faster rate in this particular region, rather than ‘wealth preservation’ predominating mature markets in Europe and North Africa.
What is the mainstay of investors these days from the GCC? Is it fixed income, real estate or trade finance?
Real estate is always the preferred area of investment for our clients, be it in the UAE, London, Paris, Singapore or Hong Kong. Fixed income instruments like bonds, structured products and capital guaranteed products also play a key role in client portfolios. Equity and funds are also preferred.
Ali Janoudi, Head, Wealth Management MENA and Group CEO MENA at UBS
Investors in the Gulf are still yield-hungry, but has their appetite for higher returns declined?
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