From Beirut to Bahrain, there are a host of homegrown wealth managers catering to a new type of Middle Eastern HNWI.
Local players are able to offer something unique: a knowledge of fast growing local economies can provide investment returns that few international firms could match.
These local private banks and wealth managers also know their way around national regulations, something which many western banks find too cumbersome to contemplate.
While there are many banks and wealth managers that have looked after the continent’s wealthy from afar, the local players are less well known. So who are the new local heroes?
While Bank Sohar has been around since 2007, its wealth management service is new this year. Sohar Wealth Management focuses on fiduciary and financial advice including savings and investment schemes, borrowings, future protection schemes and day-to-day transactions for Omani HNWIs. Based in Muscat, Sohar Wealth Management is led by Aziz Al Jahdhami, who joined the firm in 2018 from the National Bank of Oman, having previously had a stint at Morgan Stanley.
Bank AlJazira Private Banking
Country: Saudi Arabia
Although Bank AlJazira has been one of Saudi Arabia’s longest running financial institutions its private banking is only six years old. The Board took the decision to set this up in 2013 to serve HNWIs, family offices and holding companies in Saudi Arabia, many of whom were already clients of AlJazira’s commercial bank and asset manager, Al Jazira Capital, which specialises in sharia compliant products.
Qatar First Private Banking
Qatar First Bank (QFB) was set up with a focus on asset management and private equity, targeting investments in energy, real estate and financial services across the region. However, in late 2015, its chairman, Abdulla al-Marri announced the start of a private banking service. “We are not shifting away from private equity, we are building on it,” said Ziad Makkawi, CEO of QFB.
Aventicum Capital Management
The joint venture of Credit Suisse and QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) was established in 2012, to “establish a multi-asset management boutique in four different regions (Zurich, Geneva, London and Doha)”, a spokesperson told PBI. This allows it to cover equities in Europe, MENA and the GCC, as well as emerging markets credit, sharia investments and real estate.
“The fundamentals of the Qatari economy are strong”, Aventicum believes. “Being one of the largest gas exporters and as the country looks to expand its gas production from 77 million tonnes per year to 110 by 2024 means, there is an opportunity to make long term investments in the economy that will allow Aventicum to invest in infrastructure, transportation and hospitality, that are likely to grow for several years to come.”
Kuwait Finance House – Bahrain
Established in 2002 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Kuwait Finance House (Kuwait), KFH-Bahrain made its name as an Islamic commercial bank. However, in 2016 it started seeing an interest in its Shariah compliant investments from HNWIs and subsequently ramped up its private bank.
Abdul Razak Jawahery, executive manager of Private Banking and Wealth Management for KFH-Bahrain, says this demand has not let up. “We have witnessed a strong demand for wealth management and private banking solutions,” he said earlier this month after announcing several new private banking services, such as Flexi Wakala Investment Accounts and Lombard products.
Adeem Investment Company
Adeem is one of a growing number of multi-family offices in Kuwait and the wider region. Founded by two Kuwaiti families – Al-Roumi and Al-Humaidhi – Adeem invests primarily through private equity and its own “ADEEM Convertible Sukuk”. Wealth management is supplied to clients via an unnamed Swiss private bank.