Yves Bruggisser on why the UAE is a wealth hub for HNWIs
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Here’s why the UAE is attracting more high-net-worth individuals

Here’s why the UAE is attracting more high-net-worth individuals

Yves Bruggisser, equity partner and Head of Zone Middle East Pictet Wealth Management tells us that the UAE is at the heart of a networking hub that attracts innovation and ambition

Why the UAE is emerging as the preferred wealth hub for HNWIs

The GCC region has emerged as a hub of wealth creation. What’s luring high net-worth individuals and wealthy families?

I have been closely following the developments in the GCC region, especially the UAE, for over twenty years and am impressed by the leadership of the country, for instance how they have created ministries like no other country in the world. The UAE has built ecosystems in tens of industries while maintaining a high level of safety and strong international partnerships.

It makes me believe that the country is on the right path to continue attracting high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in the next decade. I often meet entrepreneurs from all over the world in the UAE, they found in the UAE a stable and safe home for their families with a great education system.

They can attract skilled labour and good talent for their companies. They are supported by a legal system that continues to develop and adapt to international standards. Most importantly they are at the heart of a networking hub that attracts innovation and ambition.

The UAE remains somewhat insulated from the slowing global economy, inflation and high interest rates. What is the broad outlook for the region’s wealth management space compared with the previous year?

I remain positive about the wealth management industry in the UAE just as I have been since the beginning of my career covering the region. Having said that, I see two main challenges for wealth managers in the region.

One is to have employees who are passionate and real investors looking to create value for the clients, and not only salespeople looking for short-term gains and transactional commissions. And second, is to have a long-term outlook when giving objective advice to clients in the region.

With $80tn expected to be transferred by baby boomers to their children over the next two decades, what opportunities and challenges do GCC-based family enterprises face?

Generational wealth transfer is a key topic in the GCC region, where vast wealth has been created in the last decades. UHNW families need to get organised and ensure a smooth transition from one generation to the next. It is an opportunity for us to offer our experience and know-how, as Pictet is itself family-owned through nine generations.

We have dedicated teams specialised in family governance, wealth planning and philanthropy, which assist our clients in implementing the right set-up to ensure continuity and alignment with their long-term goals.

Digitalisation is driving innovation and change in the wealth management industry. Which other trends do you expect to revolutionize the sector?

We are embracing all technical advancements and digitalisation that advance the client experience and bring operational efficiency. We are also steadily investing in IT, having built up a sizeable team of IT specialists to provide expertise in this area.

Tells us more about Pictet Wealth Management. What is the bank’s current position in the GCC market?

Pictet was founded in 1805 in Geneva, Switzerland and we are one of the biggest Europe-based independent wealth and asset managers, with $700bn in assets under management and a global workforce of more than 5000 employees.

We offer wealth and asset management only. It is part of our risk management approach as we do not engage in investment or corporate banking activities. We have a solid balance sheet with Aa2 and AA- ratings from Moody’s and Fitch. Recent developments in the industry show that our approach is the right one, focusing on our clients and their needs.

Pictet is privately owned. We do not have pressure from the stock market to deliver short-term results. Being privately owned fosters alignment of interest in the way we manage clients’ wealth.

The GCC is a strategic market for Pictet. We have had clients in the region since the early 1980s – many families we work with are now in the second generation and certain families we are serving are already in the 3rd generation.

Our revenues have grown annually at a double-digit rate in the last decade and a half, and we see significant opportunities to further grow our presence in the GCC region, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE – where we have had a local presence since 2007.

We are looking at possibilities to further develop our presence in the UAE. As our senior managing partner, Renaud de Planta puts it: we do not want to be the biggest, but the finest.

So, we consistently strive to get a set-up that matches our client’s needs. We are looking for quality bankers in the region to carry our value proposition. We want their careers to thrive by finding the right fit for their clients.

How does your product offering stand apart from other players in the region? And does sustainability define your product offering?

We invest in all asset classes for our clients and benefit from unique investment opportunities and scale. Pictet was a pioneer in investing in private equities 30 years ago and we have developed relationships with key players as well as niche actors in private assets.

We have also developed investment expertise in real estate and hedge funds, as well as liquid assets such as equities and bonds where we work with our clients via advisory or discretionary mandates.

Sustainability is important to us. Thanks to our size and the high proportion of assets we manage under discretionary mandates, we are selective, have an impact and actively influence the companies in which we invest. We have a dedicated team on sustainability and recently sponsored “World with Purpose” in Dubai which brought together people who are determined to make a difference.

Read: How is wealth management faring across the GCC?

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