Investing in the Middle East: Key essentials

Setting the correct benchmarks to maximise your investment in the Middle East can be supplemented by the right advisory inputs for high gains.

The Middle East has been one of the best investment destinations for investors around the world, for several years. Though the region has primarily buoyed the economy with crude oil and petroleum deposits, other profitable sectors have sprung up in recent years.

With a proliferation of the Internet and the rise of young, upwardly mobile populations in the Middle East, it is obvious that infrastructure and housing have emerged as the key investment destinations. Close on their heels are Internet-based businesses and new media fuelled by a rise in the use of smartphones. Plus, there is a burgeoning start-up culture in the Middle East, with many younger age groups starting several enterprises spanning different industries.

However, the right technical and financial inputs are required before an investor can make an informed decision about investing in the region. These are necessary especially when foreign investors look to gain broad exposure in the Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) markets in the Middle East, or individual country ETFs. The investment solutions they choose must be backed by expert analysis from experienced financial advisors in the region.

Investments with the right team of experts

This is where reputed financial advisory firms in the Middle East come in – they provide the latest market analysis and tailor their recommendations for new investment solutions to suit their clients. These recommendations are based on continuous research and tapping trends as they emerge in the Middle East. They have links with the top players in the markets, from local businesses to international entities. Thus, their investment solutions are customised to suit every individual investor based on a variety of factors.

These investment advisory companies in the Middle East take into account the investor’s risk appetite, strategic and financial goals and the monies they wish to spend every quarter. The solutions are prepared basis the investor type (Private, Privilege and Corporate), their specific needs and the markets/countries they wish to explore. Then, the portfolio is prepared in close consultation with the investor(s) to arrive at investment solutions that maximise the investor’s funds.

Thus, premier investment advisory services are able to optimise investment potential across a spectrum of industries and sectors with up-to-the-minute market information backed by resources and expertise of the most experienced financial advisors. Investors are able to gain entry into new markets and territories without having to guess at the fate of the investment – they can forge ahead with their financial goals with the security of knowledge and experience backing their many forays in the Middle East.

8 Points that Define your Personal Finance Goals

We present eight ways in which you can create a sound financial plan for yourself and your loved ones.

Life has a way of throwing unexpected twists and turns in your path. But instead of fretting over the future, it helps to be financially prepared for life’s unpredictability. Consider the following ways to plan your financial future:

1 Set goals and act on them wisely. No dream is ever accomplished without a goal, and the same is true of personal finance as well. If you want to have an extra Dh 10,000 every year, you must proactively save money every month and follow that plan diligently. Create a financial roadmap for the year that includes all the major financial milestones you wish to achieve and act on it.

2 Explore your bank’s personal finance products. Your bank has many useful personal finance products for your use. Your personal banker may also advise you of new products and services from time to time. Sign up for products that help you further your financial aims.

3 Save to invest. Merely saving money is not enough – it must be invested in the right instruments to create wealth for the future. Visit your bank to get more information about the best investment avenues for your age, risk appetite, income and lifestyle. Creating the right investments helps augment your money for the future.

4 Spend within your means. This is an important habit that every person must inculcate: spend only what you have. This applies especially to credit card spending, in which people tend to spend beyond their means. Use debit cards instead of credit cards, and set a spending limit for yourself every month.

5 Settle all bills within due date. Not only does settling bills on time give you brownie points with your utility service providers, it also gives you a good credit score. Be sure to settle all payments on time so that your finances remain in check and you do not need to pay late payment penalties. Settling credit card bills on time is most important.

6 Buy insurance for the future. Taking an insurance policy that covers you and your loved ones is an important personal finance decision. Not only does it provide life coverage, it also ensures your family’s financial safety in case you are absent from their lives.

7 Insist on the family following good financial practices. Not just you, your partner and children must also be careful about spending money. Discourage all wasteful spending habits and teach your children how to save money. Children are quick to emulate their parents, so it is never too soon to impart lessons in personal finance.

8 Plan your retirement. This is a crucial step in your financial journey. While you pay for your family’s dreams and make sure each of your loved ones is well cared for, you must also ensure that you have a comfortable sum of money laid away for your retirement years. Your retirement planning must include having a home for yourself and your partner, as well as monies from investment and pension plans to take care of your expenses.

10 ways to bank safely online

Online banking is convenient, but how safe are your online habits? We present 10 ways bank safely online.

Though the Internet has eased the way we conduct our banking transactions, it has also opened the gates to a slew of theft and hacking activities all over the world. Online banking is largely a secure exercise, but it is vulnerable to fraud and phishing attempts despite your vigilance. Your bank may also put in place several security controls for your safety. Still, it is always prudent to be safe by following these 10 safe online banking habits:

1 Never reveal your login credentials to anyone. You may receive a call ‘from your bank’ asking you to verify your card number and PIN – ostensibly as a security exercise. Do not part with the data and note down the caller’s details and number. Notify your bank immediately of such a phone call. No bank authorizes its personnel to ask customers for confidential information.

2 Beware of phishing attempts. Phishers are adept at redirecting unsuspecting customers to fake sites that trawl your information and start stealing from your account. If you receive an email/SMS from your bank asking you to avail of a special offer or sign up for a new product, simply delete the email and block that web address.

3 Do not respond to emails from persons claiming to be employed by your bank. You might receive personalized emails from a person who signs off as your bank’s employee, informing you of special privileges and reward points. The email will contain your bank’s logo and other marks to make it look as authentic as possible. Remember: your bank’s promotional emails will not have any clickable links in it.

4 Do not click on banking links in third party sites. Many of us are used to clicking on links in online articles, emails and newsletters that direct us to third party sites. Do not click on ANY banking-related links in any material you find online. Just visit the bank’s Internet banking site to conduct all your transactions instead of clicking third party links.

5 Bank from a secure terminal. This is an important habit to inculcate. You may bank using your smartphone or your personal laptop, but NEVER bank from an open Wi-Fi connection or a publicly shared terminal. Even when using your personal digital devices, be sure to log out of the site or app every time your transaction is finished.

6 Do not verify your details when an email asks you to. You might receive emails asking you to ‘verify your details’ as part of your bank’s customer verification norms. No bank asks its customers to verify their details on emails; this process is done on the bank’s Internet banking platform directly.

7 Sign up for two-factor authentication. If your bank is serious about your online banking safety, it will incorporate the two-factor authentication in its sign in process. It might seem cumbersome every time you log in, but it is essential.

8 Change your password every month. It is always safer to change your password as frequently as possible, and verify it using an OTP sent by the bank. Make sure the password is an alpha-numeric one and is hard to guess. Never include your name, date of birth or phone number in it. Also, set a couple of security questions with secret answers in case you need to recover your password.

9 Enlist for SMS alerts. Every transaction that takes place via your account, however small, must instantly be recorded and sent to you via SMS. Your bank will set up an SMS alert system for you, which is helpful to track your account’s activity. You will know at once if somebody attempts to use your cards or log into your account without your knowledge.

10 Activate anti-virus software on your computer. A good anti-virus software detects malware and hacker attempts. It will also alert you in case a log in attempt was made from a browser or location that you normally do not use.

Equity Capital Markets: High stakes and professional management

The ECM ecosystem benefits from the expertise of professional financial consultants for the best placements and excellent gains.

The Equity Capital Market (ECM) is an entity that bridges businesses and financial institutions, in that it is an instrument by which equity capital is raised for the businesses by the financial institutions. An experienced and reputed financial institution offers end-to-end services in the ECM ecosystem. Hence, it provides a diverse portfolio for companies to operate in the ECM, from distribution and/or allocation of new issues/units to IPOs, and from private placements to comprehensive marketing.

How is equity capital computed and what implications does it have for the business? To put it simply, it is measured basis the company’s value and the assets it holds. When raising equity capital, a business essentially sells all or a portion of an asset in return for funding. It differs fundamentally from debt funding, which hinges on acquiring new debt to raise capital.

Why be a part of the ECM?

Most companies new to the concept of ECM are unaware of the fact that it deals not just with stocks, but also with such financial instruments as futures contracts, swaps and options. It is important for businesses to participate in the ECM because it provides a gateway for them to raise supplementary funds by issuing stocks. However, ECMs are one component of the entire stock market, and part of the larger primary markets space for IPOs and new presentations made by companies in a bid to raise capital.

The ECM and expert handling

Reputed investment companies in Kuwait are adept at underwriting for IPOs of companies, by helping the business transition smoothly into going public. The financial institution underwrites the IPOs as also promotes and facilitates the acquisition of additional principal on request.

An experienced ECM group from the financial institution comprises a team that deals with IPOs, listing advisories and public and private placement. As such, it is expected to offer advisory services also on the most premium listings in the GCC region. When shortlisting an ECM group, look for the institution’s credentials and track record, but most importantly, its roster of clients, listings value and services offered therein.

Though the fee structure for underwriting and listing services will vary from institution to institution, it is pertinent to remember that the ECM group fees are generally calculated as the difference between the sale value of an offering and the amount forwarded to the business whose equity is being sold/stock is being issued for listing.

Maximise your savings bank account for multiple benefits

Your savings account can do so much more than being just a repository for your money. It can also incentivise saving for your next vacation.

A savings bank account is a precious commodity in personal finance. It is a safe place for your surplus cash, it holds your precious savings and it also helps you grow your savings fund when the bank pays interest on it.

Every person who makes an income must have a savings bank account. It is especially useful for students, homemakers and freelance workers who have lower reserves of cash than others. The savings account is a safe repository that also lets one grow the corpus deposited therein through periodic interest.

Since so many people use savings bank accounts, banks in the UAE incentivise their use by introducing several reward programmes. While most banks offer free lifetime debit cards and reward points on purchases above a certain sum of money, premier banks in the UAE now offer ‘super savings initiatives to boost the power of the savings account.

The best banks in the UAE offer saving account holders the chance to get high interest rates as well as earn valuable traveller miles on the money deposited. These miles are different from those offered on purchase of flight tickets using credit or debit cards. This is a special reward given by the bank to save more money in the bank account.

How it works:

  • The more money you save, the more travel miles you earn. You can earn up to 15,000 miles per quarter.
  • The more travel miles you have, the more you save on your flight ticket on your next vacation. If you have more miles than you need, you can get a ticket for free!
  • Customers can also get high profits from the common Murdaraba pool generated by joint investment between shareholders and depositors.
  • There are over 2,000 bonus miles you get simply on opening your savings account, based on certain conditions.
  • On opening your savings account, some banks offer the option of a free current account with zero balance requirement.
  • The savings account has phone and mobile banking capabilities.

Thus, travelling becomes much more convenient and affordable with the accumulation of travel miles through the super savings rewards programme. Your bank can shed more light on other benefits offered on opening the savings account, the eligibility criteria for the same and the documentation required.

Convenient, 24/7 and without boundaries…

Online banking makes life easier since you can efficiently keep track of your finances at any time of day or night.

The Internet completely revolutionised the way the world did business or sought information when it was first brought into use. Initially used for business communication, the digital medium soon expanded its reach to entertainment, retail and other sectors that touch consumers’ daily lives.

It was to be expected that as the world shrunk in response to the Internet’s wide reach, sectors such as banking and finance would touch consumers’ lives much more. Hitherto, industries such as banking were quite alienating in terms of services and information dissemination. One had to mandatorily visit the bank to withdraw cash, deposit cheques and perform myriad other functions.

The digital medium, however, completely changed this aspect of banking: now, one can ‘bank’ from home or any other part of the world, at any hour. Moreover, one need not visit the bank for anything! These are the prominent wonders of online banking.

The best of banking – online

Banks in the UAE have responded magnificently to the challenge of all its customers seeking to perform online banking functions at all hours, effect money transfers, request cheque and account status, etc. It is a major task to maintain 24/7 functionality, and premier UAE banks have succeeded in not just bringing the bank to one’s laptop or mobile phone, but to also transfer all its operations online.

Customers can bank at any hour for free, in a highly secure environment that offers quick and convenient solutions to every conundrum. The best banks in the UAE offer a single snapshot of all one’s accounts, credit card usage, and the most updated status for bill payment, cheque issuance and even loans.

Apart from paying utility and credit card bills, customers can keep track of all their financial transactions by themselves. All account features and benefits are intelligently and simply laid out so that the customer is not confused while using them. Besides, there are many quick navigation capabilities introduced in the layout so that routinely used features (such as Payment Transfers) appear prominently on the screen.

Perhaps the biggest innovation in online banking offered by premier UAE banks is the ability to open a savings account without paperwork or physical form submission to the bank. Not only do customers open the savings account online in minutes, they can also earn a higher rate of interest on them.

Here is Bahrain in 2030!

Bahrain is a group of more than 30 islands located at the western shores of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. In 2010, the total population of the country was 1,234,571, including 666,172 non-nationals. According to the CIA’s Worl Factbook, the largest group of people living in the country were between the ages of 25 and 54 and consisted of 461,613 men, which was double the number of women, at 241,032. It is the home of more than 330 species of birds, including the globally endangered Chlamydotis Undulata, the Houbara Bustard. Millions of other migratory birds pass through this country during the autumn and winter. There are only 18 species of mammals on these islands but there is very rich and diverse marine life.

 

Bahrain recently revised its economic strategy, targeting better financial services and construction.  Both the sectors saw valuable growth, boosting the country’s economy.

Where Does the Nation Stand Today?

Despite facing many challenges from external as well as internal environment, the country has managed to grow steadily. It is a financial hub for dynamic economic activities. Its currency is the second most valued currency in the world. Many foreign companies have invested in the country’s capital, Manama. Petroleum is the most exported item from the country, accounting for 60% of the export receipts and generating 70% of the government’s revenue. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, it was the freest economy in the Middle East in 2011. The nation had an unemployment rate of 15% back in 2005, which declined to 4.1% in 2016. The per capita income of the country is $51,714, as of 2016. Bahrain also registered foreign direct investment of $957.4 million in the year.

Bahrain 2030

The nation’s growth is being driven by its government’s ‘Bahrain Economic Vision 2030’ plan, which aspires to shift an economy built on oil towards an internationally competitive economy based on the principles of sustainability and fairness. This how things may look like in Bahrain by 2030:

 

  • The population of the country is expected to cross the 12 million mark by the end of 2030.
  • The nation will an average age of 31.2 years.
  • The improvement in medical facilities will mean there will be more births than deaths between 2012 and 2030.
  • The age group of 60+ will grow by 91.2% in this period due to increasing life expectancy.
  •  Manufacturing, transport, IT and tourism will become important sectors and will generate a majority of revenue for the country.
  • The government’s plan of lower spending for sustainability will also help in building a brighter economic future.

 

Bahrain 2030 is not just an idea, it is a vision for a brighter future.