I attended International Adviser’s Gulf Expert Forum this week, along with chief executives of some of the largest firms with a United Arab Emirates presence, to analyse the future of the financial advisory sector in this part of the world.

Held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dubai, I was part of the ‘CEO Roundtable’, which was the ideal setting to ‘chew the fat’ with my peers from international finance companies.

Chaired by journalist and broadcaster, Richard Dean, several key questions were raised regarding the current financial situation in the United Arab Emirates, the challenges faced by advisers and the opportunities available to them, as well as the financial outlook over the next few years from industry’s perspective.


Some of the questions posed to the CEO roundtable

We were asked about the UAE Insurance Authority’s freeze on issuing new licences to insurance firms, following the global ‘crash’ of 2008.

I believe this moratorium should be lifted in order to increase competition in this field.  Clients benefit greatly from a more competitive market, both in terms of the level of service and lower prices.

Stringent regulations in other parts of the world has resulted in a decrease in insurance providers which in turn has led to less competition in the market, which inevitably works against the consumer.

Another question put to the roundtable was the degree of upheaval in the sector throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and how this has affected the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates has a first-class reputation both in the world of business as well as tourism, which has seen the region thriving in recent times, when other Islamic countries have been suffering.


Opportunities for advisers in the UAE

I, along with the other guests at the Gulf Expert Forum were asked about the various opportunities available to financial advisers in the United Arab Emirates.

As well as the enviable climate and lifestyle, there are several reasons why this region is enduringly attractive to those seeking a career in financial services.

The free zones, established by the government, offer trading licences to foreign firms, tax exemption and purpose-built offices amongst many other perks, making it relatively simple to establish a business.

The region is set for further unprecedented growth in the future, with client confidence reaching an all-time high.

We were asked for our opinions on a whole host of other important and relevant subjects, which included the various challenges and pitfalls financial advisers in this area may encounter and the constantly changing rules and regulations.


The CEO roundtable

I was joined by representatives from some of the biggest finance firms in the UAE at the International Adviser Forum, namely; Tarun Khanna from Nexus; AES International’s Sam Instone; Continental’s Ashok Sardana; Globaleye’s Tim Searle; and Mondial’s Sean Kelleher.

Launched in 2006, International Adviser is a monthly news magazine, targeting financial intermediaries who specialise in international wealth management products and services, advice and management to expats all over the globe.