United Arab Emirates (UAE) Wealth Management – Market Sizing and Opportunities to 2025

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The resident retail savings and investments market in the UAE was $177.60 billion in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 4% during the forecast period 2021-2025. The UAE’s affluent segment (including HNWs and mass affluents) accounted for a mere 6.8% of the total population and held 81.5% of the UAE’s total onshore liquid assets in 2020. The affluent segment holds the majority of their wealth in safe-haven assets such as deposits followed by risky assets such as equities and mutual funds. Therefore, as the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused big downward shifts in the stock market performance of the country, thereby adversely affecting the returns of the affluent investors on this asset class, such losses were recovered in the second half of 2020 which saw an easing of lockdown restrictions and restarting of the economy. Nevertheless, a strong predicted retail investments growth is expected over the upcoming period, owing to an effective vaccine program that will raise investor confidence in the economic performance of the country. Further, the country’s savings and investments market is observing a growing preference for robo-advisory by HNW investors. This demand has also been accelerated by the outbreak of the pandemic that has been a catalyst in increasing the use of digital products and services.

UAE wealth management market overview

UAE wealth management market overview

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What are the market dynamics in the wealth management market in the UAE?

The majority of mass affluent investors in the UAE have equity, bond, and mutual fund holdings

Retail investors have less wealth at their disposal therefore, they aim to preserve invested capital while also not compromising on returns This explains their strong focus on property, which accounts for 92% of asset allocation among retail investors.

Emirati investors focus on both direct equity investments and funds in the equity space, while REITs are gaining popularity in the property space

Despite COVID-19 resulting in a decline in stock market performance, UAE HNW investors are still willing to take risks by investing a sizable chunk of their wealth in equities. A market crash allows HNW investors to take advantage of cheap stocks with the expectation that the only way is up.

Advisors at investors’ main bank and pension companies are the most popular channels for arranging investments among mass affluent and retail investors

Mass affluent investors are most likely to reach out to pension companies and advisors at their main bank to arrange investments. Most UAE investors agree that the relationship they already have with their advisors is the reason they consult them for investments.

Advisory and discretionary mandates have an edge over other options

Advisory mandates are the most popular option among UAE HNW investors, making them a necessary offering for any wealth manager operating in the country. While investors want to offload the time-intensive aspects of managing an investment portfolio, many do not want to relinquish control completely.

Better returns and originally hailing from a country are key drivers for investors to offshore their wealth

Offshore investments are relatively scarce among retail investors, with only 11.7% shipping any of their wealth abroad. The expectation of better returns and the fact that they are originally from that country are key factors encouraging them to do so.

In 2020, HNW investors parked half of their total liquid assets offshore a proportion that is set to increase over the next 12 months

Considering that the UAE itself is a hub for ex-pats, these investors are more likely to hold assets and receive income in different jurisdictions, explaining the significant proportion of wealth held offshore. This poses challenges as investors are forced to navigate multiple tax systems and filing deadlines Providing cross-border tax advice is thus a necessity in the country.

What are the segment classifications in the resident savings and investments market in the UAE by asset allocations?

By asset allocations, various segments in the resident savings and investments market in the UAE include equities, mutual funds, deposits, and bonds. 

Equities

The Coronavirus Crash hindered retail equity holdings in 2020, but a rebound is expected in 2021. Despite the pandemic, banks maintained the largest stock market weighting on the back of central bank support measures.

Mutual funds

Despite the stock market being strongly impacted by the pandemic, mutual funds are expected to have closed 2020 flat on the previous year. Mutual fund balances have declined consistently since 2015, with the highest fall in this period being recorded in 2016. This decline continued until 2019 on the back of stringent regulations imposed on the marketing and distribution of funds.

Deposits

COVID-19 uncertainty caused investors to save more, resulting in growth in retail deposit holdings in 2020. Deposits remain the preferred investment type among UAE retail investors, in 2019. This reflects investors’ longstanding investment preference for low-risk asset classes.

Bonds

Despite the government taking measures to increase bond uptake, growth will remain low going forward. Like most countries worldwide, bonds account for the smallest share of holdings in the average UAE retail portfolio investments in 2019. After consistently declining over the past decade, the market rebounded in 2019.

UAE resident savings and investments market, by segments

UAE resident savings and investments market, by segments

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Market report scope

Market size (Year – 2020) $177.60 billion
Growth Rate CAGR of >4% during the period 2021-2025
Base year 2020
Forecast Period 2021-2025
Segmentation by resident savings and investments market (Asset allocation) Equities, mutual funds, deposits, and bonds

 Scope

  • HNW individuals constituted only 0.22% of the total adult population of the UAE in 2020.
  • Advisory mandates accounted for 27.5% of the total HNW portfolio composition in the UAE in 2020.
  • Deposits remain the most popular investment avenue for the Emirati retail investors indicating their preference for safe-haven investment asset classes.
  • Bonds continued to form a small proportion (0.003%) of retail investment portfolios in 2020.

Reasons to Buy

  • Make strategic decisions using top-level historic and forecast data on the UAE’s wealth industry.
  • Identify the most promising client segment by analyzing the penetration of affluent individuals.
  • Receive detailed insights into retail liquid asset holdings in the UAE.
  • Understand the changing market and competitive dynamics by learning about new competitors and recent deals in the wealth space.
  • See an overview of key digital disruptors in the country’s wealth market.

Central Bank of the UAE
StashAway
Sarwa

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

UAE Wealth Market

Investor Insight

Resident Savings and Investments

Digital Disruptors

Recent Deals

Appendix

Frequently asked questions

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