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With oftentimes higher disposable income from tax-advantaged expatriate salaries, along with the various financial challenges of expat life, seeking out financial planning and advice is an important step towards achieving financial success and security. However, this may involve navigating the financial services landscape of the region, including issues that are specific to the GCC.
 
The financial services industry in many locations around the world has undergone some significant change in recent times, with a move to greater regulation and transparency. Therefore, financial professionals in some countries are held to high standards and their activities are highly regulated, theoretically making them more accountable. By comparison, the industry in the broader GCC region more closely resembles that of the 1980/90s in Europe, Australia and North America. What do we mean by this? This part of the world remains relatively unregulated (which is great for advisors to make money, but not necessarily so much for consumers).
 
Within this lightly regulated environment, people looking for financial advice should watch out for the following pitfalls when it comes to dealing with financial advisors:
 

- Lack of Credentials: Because of the lack of regulation, some advisers may lack professional credentials as they are unnecessary in order to do business. Some have been recruited from their home countries, indoctrinated over a short training program, and therefore lack the rigorous education requirements of qualified advisors

- Sales vs. Advice: In this industry, there is a very fine line between commission-generating sales and fiduciary, client-centric advice. Some advisors will cross that line, acting simply as salespeople for certain products. These products are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but their terms and charges can be confusing. A sales-oriented advisor will not take the time to objectively explain these charges, and at times will be more interested in generating the highest commission possible.

- Expectations: Some advisers may oversell their abilities or the performance of their investments in the course of making sales. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and eventual disappointment. 

- Compensation: the vast majority of advisors in the region are compensated only via commission, and this can lead to conflicts of interest and mis-selling. 

 
SO WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT US?
 
- We have a long term commitment to the region
 
- We believe that honest business in our clients’ bests interests, adhering to a fiduciary standard of care, is not only the right way to do thing but actually the most successful form of business – in the long term. And because we play the long game, we are not interested in anything that doesn’t lead to win/win relationships with our clients over the long haul.
 
- All members of our team are highly qualified  
 
- We are generally fee-based. We say “generally” because at times, the best solution for a given client may only allow for commission. Our preference, however, is to work based on fees as this results in lower charges, greater transparency, and an accountable relationship with our clients.
 
- We are independent.  We operate under the umbrella of the Holborn Group – a financial services firm with over 90 advisors and offices in the UAE, UK, Spain, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Holborn is unique in the GCC insofar as it adheres to UK-level internal compliance – even going so far as to pay for the education of its advisors. Via Holborn, we have access to a wide variety of platforms and providers allowing for both fee or commission based services, depending on what is best for our clients. 
 
With our client-first mentality and rigorous approach, we look forward to the opportunity to proving what is different about who we are and what we do.

 

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