UN data shows that 88.4% of the total population is made up by international migrants, with the latest Globaldata wealth managers survey finding 74.6% of expats are high net worth individuals (HNWIs). Indian nationals stand out as the largest expat group.
Wealth managers in the UAE face a fierce competition. As highlighted in our recent Wealth in the UAE: HNW Investors 2017 report, developing pension planning services can prove to be a strong selling point.
As the UAE government doesn’t offer a pension scheme to foreign residents, one of the biggest concerns of expats is maintaining the same quality of life after they have retired. Hence demand for this planning service is forecast to grow in the UAE at a higher pace than the global average.
As Indian nationals stand out as the largest expat group, and wealth managers should understand and address the specific preferences of these clients. Catering for the offshore investment needs of non-resident Indians is paramount, as Indians tend to send a large amount of assets back home – in particular, physical gold. However new Indian legislation restrains the import of precious metals, pushing up demand for investment in gold through digital platforms. Here wealth managers can offer specialist help.
Non-Muslim expats as a wider group will have specific needs too. Most of the UAE financial regulation is based on the Sharia law, including strict requirements related to inheritance procedures. Consequently clients who want to pass over their wealth to their loved ones will need specialist advice, and wealth managers offering inheritance planning services (directly or via a partnership with legal firms) are set to be successful.
In the end, with the expat population accounting for the vast majority of the HNW clients in the UAE, tailoring the service offering to their specific needs will be the main competitive advantage for wealth managers.