Gazing out of the glass on the 146th ground of the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa, I had a fairly clear panoramic view of the quickly rising metropolis with solely remnants of the morning fog seen.
It’s a vista that the executives working at AIX Funding Group – and their rising checklist of shoppers – take pleasure in every day, at the same time as Dubai’s and the broader GCC’s funding landspace expands, regardless of the fog that has settled worldwide because of the pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted economies in varied methods, with most industries struggling to regulate to the disaster. Nevertheless, the funding panorama has managed to stay pretty buoyant, for the reason that pandemic has fueled a better have to protect and develop wealth – each globally, in addition to within the GCC area.
“Curiously, the pandemic doesn’t appear to have adversely affected the demand for investments within the area, however relatively appears to have inspired buyers – each particular person and institutional – to start out assessing the safety of their cashflows and to think about constructing extra numerous funding portfolios,” says Fadi Dabbagh, board advisor at Dubai-based AIX Funding Group.
“We now have definitely observed a change within the kinds of alternatives buyers are searching for, however not a discount of their urge for food for funding. Quite the opposite, the urge for food for funding appears to have elevated and the variety of first-time buyers that approached us trying to start their journey in the direction of monetary independence was increased than ever earlier than in 2020. Our information suggests a number of components for this, and plenty of of them appear to be direct outcomes of the modifications brought on by the pandemic.”
A few of these embody extra money attributable to lowered life-style bills – most regional nations enforced lockdowns that compelled the closure of leisure avenues; an elevated feeling of instability and concern of income disruption – a number of employees confronted wage cuts in addition to work disruptions; as properly the necessity for added passive earnings.
In the meantime the pandemic additionally bolstered the necessity for buyers to additional diversify their portfolios, as they give the impression of being to guard their property.
“One of many key classes buyers took from the financial uncertainty that 2020 introduced is the significance of getting a number of income streams and spreading property throughout a number of uncorrelated courses. Whereas beforehand we might discover our buyers making an attempt to determine one among our funding automobiles because the one that almost all matches their wants and targets, they’re now inquiring about the potential of splitting their funds throughout a number of of them. Our reply is all the time the identical: ‘We strongly encourage you to take action’,” explains Khalid El-Mikhi, senior monetary advisor at AIX Funding Group.
“In 2020, we witnessed numerous companies and industries that appeared to be on an unstoppable upward trajectory come to a screeching halt, and in lots of circumstances fail fully. This was maybe the best reminder for the reason that dot-com-bubble that allocating all your sources into one asset class is most definitely unwise. At AIX Funding Group, we offer buyers with a various set of funding alternatives and in addition search optimum asset allocation and diversification inside particular person funding automobiles,” provides Dabbagh.
The shift in the direction of diversification was already underway earlier than the disaster. A survey by consultancy EY in January 2020 discovered that 23 per cent of wealth administration shoppers within the Center East had been planning to maneuver property within the subsequent three years, with 50 per cent having already moved their property prior to now three years.
If there’s one normal response which you can get from any wealth supervisor or monetary advisor, it’s that there isn’t a such factor as a “excellent portfolio”. However on the similar time, most concur that diversification is vital and that it’s prudent to have property unfold throughout the danger spectrum whereas avoiding geographical and trade focus.
“It’s of paramount significance that any portfolio in as we speak’s market circumstances ought to be unfold throughout a number of asset courses. Whereas doing that, sustaining liquidity for part of one’s portfolio is equally vital. We suggest allocating part of your portfolio right into a secure fastened earnings product which secures part of your portfolio with common money flows, whereas sustaining a extra liquid portion working capital, which a shopper can all the time attain out to on a wet day,” states El-Mikhi.
AIX Funding Group recommends that seasoned buyers comply with a 40-40-20 strategy:
• 40 per cent of the portfolio is allotted in a set earnings product, producing regular money circulate with virtually no danger concerned.
• 40 per cent is distributed in a variable earnings product, that’s fully liquid with a medium danger concerned, accelerating the expansion of the fund at a better tempo than the fastened earnings allocation.
• 20 per cent is allotted to a high-risk product, with a calculated danger strategy, which makes up for the slower and steadier returns within the fastened earnings product.
“Whereas return on funding stays a key driver of all funding choices, now we have observed a dramatic shift in focus away from yields and extra in the direction of the security and sustainability of income streams. As such, it is just pure for funding sentiment to have shifted in the direction of the extra risk-averse aspect, and our buyers are relying on us to advise and counsel them via these modifications,” provides Dabbagh.
AIX Funding Group, which was arrange in Europe 13 years in the past, has generated passive earnings for its shoppers starting from 14 per cent to 40 per cent every year.
“A core a part of our power as a enterprise stems from the ‘monetary transparency’ mannequin now we have constructed our operations on. The final precept is that the structure of an working mannequin ought to be straightforward to grasp, monitor and analyse. This should maintain true for all stakeholders – and that is embedded inside the core of our working philosophy,” states Dabbagh.
Having a mannequin that works is vital within the area to retain and acquire new shoppers. In accordance with the EY survey, wealth administration shoppers within the Center East are equally prone to change wealth asset administration suppliers for any one among six causes: High quality and popularity, merchandise, advisory capabilities, private consideration, pricing, or expertise.
The survey discovered that whereas buyers might change suppliers for causes associated to service capabilities, they’re additionally on the lookout for wealth managers that share comparable values. Within the area, 53 per cent positioned extra significance on digital savviness, 48 per cent stated they wished advisors who’re proactive and attentive, and 45 per cent chosen advisors who display sound judgement.
“As an organization, we really feel assured that we’re heading in the right direction. The infrastructure now we have constructed was designed on setting a strong basis and step by step scaling our operations to the following degree of development,” says Dabbagh.
“We now have a resilient and balanced portfolio of merchandise and a robust place in a number of the world’s quickest rising markets. We are going to proceed to search out new alternatives to develop our enterprise each domestically and internationally and set up alliances with globally recognised establishments.”
The corporate doubled in dimension final 12 months and expanded its workplace area to incorporate the 144th ground of Burj Khalifa.
“What we imagine is most vital is the continual improvement of AIX Funding Group’s staff. With tough monetary occasions predicted, it can be crucial for all members of the staff to be expert and skilled in dealing with all conditions which will come up throughout their day-to-day work. We now have been allocating a number of effort and time in the direction of schooling and coaching for all our staff to make sure their continued improvement,” provides Dabbagh.
The digital query
One other speaking level inside the market this 12 months has been the digital foreign money bitcoin, which – following the current announcement of a $1.5bn funding from Tesla – has seen its worth cross $50,000 (a rise of over 50 per cent in 2021). Principally, $1 of bitcoin in July 2010 is price round $800,000 as we speak.
“This astronomical return paved the best way for the over 8,000 digital property obtainable in worldwide capital markets as we speak with a complete market cap exceeding $1 trillion. Which property will proceed to develop and develop extra real-life use circumstances past hypothesis is a matter of fixed debate. However there’s one factor that appears sure – blockchain, the underlying expertise powering digital property that’s designed to offer a decentralised ledger permitting for irreversible peer-to-peer transactions and immutable storage of knowledge would be the subsequent main disruptive expertise, and that’s what we’re most enthusiastic about,” explains El-Mikhi.
“Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise the best way individuals work together with one another and the best way the integrity of monetary and transactional networks is maintained. What’s much more thrilling is the event of programmable blockchain networks able to implementing good contracts, an space which has led to vital development and development in decentralised finance (DeFi) amongst many different functions. We don’t see this pattern reversing, and we anticipate the continued development of blockchain expertise powering the worldwide financial system and our day-to-day interactions.”
Blockchain adoption within the area is on the rise, supported largely by nationwide methods. The UAE authorities launched the Emirates Blockchain Technique in 2018, which seeks to rework 50 per cent of presidency transactions to the blockchain platform by 2021. Dubai additionally has its personal blockchain technique, with the emirate aiming to turn out to be the world’s first metropolis absolutely powered by blockchain. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have additionally established blockchain methods for the private and non-private sectors.
“We at the moment are witnessing governments and main monetary establishments growing their very own blockchain networks for varied makes use of such because the storage of private info and authorized paperwork, the tokenisation and switch of property via non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the event of transactions and fee programs that are decentralised and clear, and even the storage of digital proof of possession – as is the case now with all title deeds issued by Dubai Land Division,” states El-Mikhi.
Wanting forward, he stresses that they continue to be bullish on fintech, digital property, DeFi and cloud computing. There’s additionally better curiosity for foreign currency trading within the area.
“There are various advantages to buying and selling foreign exchange, which embody excessive liquidity, buying and selling volumes above $6 trillion each day, handy buying and selling hours (market is open 24/5), the flexibility to commerce each instructions – lengthy and brief; and the flexibility to commerce on margin. We’re in a area the place currencies are pegged to the US greenback and we anticipate vital swings for USD in 2021 which can end in many alternatives for revenue. The pandemic has additionally had a considerably hostile impact on world commerce and as we proceed to turn out to be accustomed to the brand new norm and the worldwide financial system continues to get better, the foreign exchange market will proceed to develop and current alternatives for the creation of sustainable income streams,” explains Dabbagh.
The corporate additionally expects the funding development in startups, development industries, sustainable companies, and safe-haven property to proceed.
“We don’t declare information of the long run, however our staff of professional analysts, merchants, and blockchain specialists will proceed monitoring alpha-generating alternatives on behalf of our buyers wherever they might come up,” says Dabbagh.
An eye fixed on the long run
Much like different sectors, the funding panorama can also be dealing with vital disruption from technological innovation, with phrases corresponding to wealthtech and robo-advisors now widespread parlance. Globally, wealthtech secured greater than $200m of worldwide funding within the first half of 2020, in accordance with a report by KPMG, with the determine anticipated to rise considerably sooner or later.
Nevertheless, the funding trade has all the time been one that’s extremely relationship-focused and is predicated on belief between buyers and people they entrust with the administration of their funds, states Dabbagh.
“Our funding philosophy is constructed on a mix of data-driven analytics and our personal judgement and expertise in navigating complicated monetary markets. In fact, we depend on our proprietary algorithms and on the ability of AI neural networks able to continually studying and enhancing – these are beneficial instruments that help us in offering constant returns to our buyers via market turbulence. However they’re solely instruments that enable us to higher analyse historic developments, spot patterns, and higher perceive market volatility. We don’t depend on these instruments to carry out trades for us or provoke positions. We now have seen many examples the place doing so has ended badly, and that may be a danger we don’t plan to reveal our buyers to,” he explains.
In the meantime the trade can also be being propelled ahead by the youthful era of buyers, who’re searching for extra technology-driven, high-return investments in a shorter span of time.
“With that in thoughts, as monetary advisors we have a tendency to stick to their wants by specializing in extra dynamic portfolios, however on the similar time we tame their expectations and implement correct construction and allocation inside their portfolios, serving to them perceive the steadiness between danger and reward and permitting them to construct portfolios which can serve them properly for years to return,” states El-Mikhi.
From digital property to robo-advisors, the funding panorama is dealing with monumental modifications in the best way it operates. And just like an funding portfolio, whereas there isn’t a excellent system for fulfillment, it’s all about making the precise name on the proper time.