Special report: Middle East
The future of financial advice
INTRODUCTION & CONTENTS
A regional first
The Middle East—and the UAE in particular—has witnessed a lot of regulatory change over the past year. The inaugural International Investment Middle East Forum, held in Dubai on 26 November, proved to be an essential discussion point for vital developments in the region, coming in the wake of several regulatory changes.
These included the capping of commissions in the paper published last month known as Circular 12 and the introduction of new rules on life cover in the UAE.
The Middle East is home to some of the fastest-growing and most successful wealth management companies in the world.
The portfolios of HNWIs in the region are outperforming their counterparts across the globe. Estimates foresee the region's wealth management industry growing to $800bn of assets within five years.
The International Investment Middle East Forum took an insightful and engaged look at where the industry is heading, the challenges and opportunities for the industry in the Gulf, and how IFAs are adapting.
Our sponsors, Fairway, Investors Trust, Infinity Union Insurance and Zurich International Life, took part in lively discussions on the changing face of products and investments.
And our keynote speaker, Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group, spoke in his inimitable and entertaining style on “an evolving sector: The future of financial advice in the Middle East.”
The first International Investment Middle East Forum marks, we hope, the start of many such regional events in the region and around the world. I hope you enjoy this special edition marking our first such regional forum.
Editor & publisher
The UAE’s post-regulatory prospects
of the Year
Personality of the Year
The Night in Pictures
Best International Pension Plan
Best International Financial Centre
Best International Platform
Best International Fund Group
Best International Portfolio Bond
Best International Discretionary Fund Manager
Best Family Office
International Campaign of the Year
Excellence in Private Banking
Best Fintech Innovation
Excellence in Fintech
Best International Savings Plan
Best International Life Group (UK)
Best International Life Group (Non-UK)
Best International Protection Plan (Life)
Best International Private Health Insurance Provider
Best International Trust and Estate Planning
Excellence in Client Service, Advisers – sponsored by Hansard
Excellence in Advisory Best Practice – sponsored by Investors Trust
Excellence in Client Service, Industry
Analyst of the Year
Winner: Manuela Cedermas, Tages Capital
Shortlisted: Francesca Villa, Banca Mediolanum; Patrizia Bussoli, Pramerica SGR
Fund Manager of the Year
Winner: Carla Scarano, Anima SGR
Shortlisted: Barbara Ellero, Anthilia Capital Partners; Giulia Culot, Generali Investments Partners; Patrizia Bussoli, Pramerica SGR; Valentina Franceschini, Wise Equity SGR
Fund Selector of the Year
Winner: Chiara Mauri, Fideuram Investimenti SGR
Shortlisted: Manuela Cedarmas, Tages Capital; Roberta Rudelli, Cordusio SIM; Stefania Taschini, Anima SGR
Investment Woman of the Year
Winner: Anna Maria Reforgiato Recupero, Generali
Shortlisted: Anna Vigliotti, Allianz Global Investors; Cinzia Tagliabue, Amundi; Alessandra Festini, Cassa Forense; Laura Nateri, Lazard Fund Managers; Paule Ansoleaga Abascal, Rothschild & Co; Valeria Piani, UBS Asset Management; Donatella Principe, Fidelity International
Mentor of the Year
Winner: Cristiana Vai, Cordusio SIM
Shortlisted: Anna Maria Reforgiato Recupero, Generali Investments Partners; Corinna Zur Nedden, Ambromobiliare; Laura Nateri, Lazard Asset Management; Patrizia Bussoli, Pramerica SGR
Most Inspiring Returner
Winner: Francesca Bellini, Pramerica SGR
Shortlisted: Chiara Bertolesi, Zurich Investment Life Italy; Laura Nateri, Lazard Fund Managers
Role Model of the Year
Winner: Anna Vigliotti, Allianz Global Investors
Shortlisted: Cristiana Vai, Cordusio SIM; Laura Nateri, Lazard Fund Managers
Team Leader of the Year
Winner: Laura Nateri, Lazard Asset Management
Shortlisted: Barbara Costa, Amundi; Mary Thomson, Anima SGR; Sofia D’Alessandro, Banca IMI; Sabrina Racca, Eurizon Capital
Young Investment Woman of the Year
Winner: Antonella Di Chio, Algebris
Shortlisted: Camilla Cotta Ramusino, Anima SGR; Claudia Ecca, Lyxor; Valentina Valdameri, LGIM (Europe) Managers Ltd; Gaia Salina, Eurizon Capital
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Cinzia Tagliabue, Amundi
RETURN TO CONTENTS
Highlights from Dubai
Dubai discussions and debate
Around 40 advisers and industry professionals from across the United Arab Emirates came together on Tuesday November 26 to embrace the recent regulatory reforms affecting life insurance and commissions caps at International Investment's first Middle East Forum in the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai.
Speakers on the half-day event's two panels included: Walter Jopp, CEO of Zurich International Life; Fahad Versey, head of distribution, Union Insurance; Peter Culnane, director and head of pensions at Fairway Group; and Phillip Story, head of distribution for the EMEA at Investors Trust.
On the adviser panel was Sean Kelleher, CEO, Mondial (Dubai); Con Lillis, executive partner at Abacus Financial Consultants; Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery; and Noel O'Leary, divisional manager of deVere Group.
Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group, gave the keynote speech.
Please click on each sponsor logo to play each individual video.
Videos filmed by Miguel Vazquez. Edited by Gary Robinson.
Facing up to the future
Looking to the future with well-earned confidence
UAE advisers and industry bullish on post-regulatory prospects
Advisers from across the United Arab Emirates came together in Dubai on 26 November to embrace the recent regulatory reforms affecting life insurance and commissions caps. Christopher Copper-Ind reports
Speaking at the inaugural International Investment Middle East Forum in Dubai's Ritz-Carlton, Peter Culnane, director and head of pensions, Middle East, at Fairway Group said he felt “extremely positive” about the changes, coming as they were to “a sound regulatory environment in the UAE”.
The speakers were responding to new regulation introduced last month by the UAE Insurance Authority (IA). The new rules, known as Circular 12, relate to life insurance and family takaful insurance will introduce a 4.5% commission cap on the sale of lump sum portfolio bonds or offshore bonds.
The first panel, which also comprised Phillip Story, head of distribution EMEA region at Investors Trust, Fahad Versey, head of distribution for Union Insurance and Walter Jopp, chief executive officer – Middle East, Zurich (all from sponsor companies of the II Middle East Forum 2019), was unanimous in its positive outlook for the advisory sector's future.
Jopp spoke of the relatively low penetration rates for life insurance companies in the GCC generally, especially when compared with similar rates in the UAE, and pointed out this gave the industry a clear scope for expansion in the coming years.
The Zurich Middle East CEO also foresaw change coming to the UAE regulators: “Looking at the UAE, I think what we will see over time is an alignment of the financial regulators, quite probably under one body.”
The second panel, which was formed of advisers, discussed the overall impact of such changes to the IFAs in the region, and in particular how technology and marketing will come to be ever more crucial to their success.
The panel was moderated by International Investment’s Gary Robinson, who was joined by Noel O’Leary, divisional manager Middle East at deVere Group, Nigel Sillitoe, CEO and founder of Insight Discovery, Con Lillis, executive partner at Abacus and Sean Kelleher, CEO, Mondial (Dubai).
O’Leary foresaw “plenty of consolidation” within the industry in the coming few years. Yet he argued also that the nature of financial advice will continue to evolve, with opportunities for those companies who adapt their business accordingly.
A central area of growth will be fintech, the panellists agreed. Jopp added that advisory firms should “invest in technology to be able to better educate, better engage”.
Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group, gave the keynote speech, in which he continued the theme of change. Responding to the recent waves of regulatory reform Green argued this was “nothing unusual, and nothing to be afraid of”, drawing comparison with other sectors across the economy all faced with comparable – or larger – levels of disruption to their business models.
“We can expect the pace of change in the coming 10 years to be equivalent to all that we saw in the past 100 years,” Green cautioned.
The event concluded with a panel discussion considering the future for financial services in the region.
Everyone is developing new technologies at the moment. at Investors Trust, we started off as a technology company if that makes sense. Some advisers when they go to see clients, they describe us on first meeting as a tech company that does savings plans. When they get a fully online process and 24/7, 365 days access to their plans they can see how that gives us the edge
Phillip Story, Investors Trust
We HAve been in Bahrain since 1986 and in the UAE since 1999. We HAve become an increasingly Middle East-focused insurer. We HAve seen huge changes over the past five years. BOD49 is one of many regulatory changes we HAve seen. It Is a sign of maturity in the regulators and in the market. The real winners of the regulatory changes will be the consumers and the customers. There will be different distribution channels entering the market and new opportunities
Walter Jopp, Zurich
the insurance authority has three objectives they want to achieve. One of these is to increase the penetration of life insurance contracts, improve transparency and in so doing improve client confidence. There will be challenges for the industry and clients alike. A six-month timeline is a challenge for all life companies. There are a lot of moving parts and we all have to adapt. And for the broker community, the entire infrastructure of their cost base is being challenged
Fahad Vasey, Union Insurance
Fundamentally I think regulation is a positive thing. It Is a leveller and it gives a rules set that will level the playing field. It HAs been interesting over the past two to three years to come into a jurisdiction that is finding its feet in terms of regulation. It Is really encouraging they are finding a set of rules that are fit for purpose
Peter Culnane, Fairway Group
Dubai in the frame