Swiss wealth manager Mirabaud looks to double Mena asset base to $6bn

The 200-year-old financial institution plans to achieve the target in next five to seven years as it opens new Abu Dhabi office

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Sept 21 , 2016 : Yves Mirabaud , Managing Partner of Mirabaud Bank at his office in Emirates Financial Towers in DIFC in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Business. Story by Frank Kane. ID No - 94123 *** Local Caption ***  PS2109- YVES MIRABAUD06.jpg
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Mirabaud, the Swiss private bank which opened its second UAE office in Abu Dhabi Global Market last week, is looking to double its asset base in the Middle East and North Africa to $6 billion (Dh22bn).

Assets from the Mena region for one of the oldest Swiss wealth managers currently account for about 10 per cent of its $35bn global asset base, Yves Mirabaud, the senior managing partner of Mirabaud said.

"The AUMs [assets under management] we manage are close to $3bn in Dubai and the target is to double this amount in the next five to seven years, which will be a great achievement," Mr Mirabaud told The National.

The 200-year-old financial institution is targeting global asset base growth of between 4 to 8 per cent per annum despite difficult market conditions, Mr Mirabaud added.

Global wealth managers are increasingly focusing on the region, where wealth is growing above the global average despite tougher market conditions. The wealth of private high net-worth individuals - typically defined as those with $1 million or more of liquid assets to invest - in the Middle East and Africa region is expected to grow by 6 per cent annually until 2023, according to a study by Deutsche Bank and consultancy firm Oliver Wyman in May this year.

Global high net-worth wealth grew to $70 trillion at a decelerated rate of 4 per cent in 2018 – far below levels seen in previous years – as challenging equity markets and fee compression led to declining business valuations in the industry. The strongest growth rates were observed in emerging markets at 7 to 8 per cent, while developed markets trailed at 2 to 3 per cent, the study noted.

Mr Mirabaud is particularly optimistic about the growth prospects of the UAE, which has influenced the bank’s decision to open a second base in Abu Dhabi’s ADGM, one of the fastest growing financial hubs in the region.

For its Abu Dhabi venture, Mirabaud has partnered with SBK Holding, an investment company controlled by Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, adviser to, and the eldest son of, President Sheikh Khalifa.

Mirabaud owns 80 per cent of the ADGM-registered entity, while a unit of SBK holding will control the remaining stake, Mr Mirabaud said.

The new office is a “tremendous recognition for our long association with the country,” he said. “We have built together strong relation [with Sheikh Sultan] within the last few years, and we decided that together we could launch this new venture in order to [better] serve private banking in the UAE market,” he noted.

Mirabaud, which has been present in the UAE since 2007, has launched its ADGM operations with a small team of six members, managed by Ronald Tamer, chief executive of Mirabaud in Abu Dhabi. It plans to increase the number of personnel as it grows the business incrementally.

“We always grow with the business. We started in Dubai with three people and today we are close to 40 staff,” Mr Mirabaud said.

“It’s not going to be hundreds of clients [in Abu Dhabi] ... we want to focus on certain clients, family businesses, or high net worth investors and entrepreneurs.”

The newly-opened subsidiary in Abu Dhabi will offer domestic and international wealth management advisory, business development, succession planning support and other investment services to its clientele in the capital and wider UAE focusing on local families, their networks and partners, according to a Mirabaud statement.

The wealth manager will continue to use its operations in the Dubai International Financial Centre as the hub for its broader Mena businesses.

“Here [in Dubai] it is much more international [clients business]. Abu Dhabi will be much more local, family-business, [and some] institutions maybe,” he explained.

Mirabaud’s AUMs across the world are currently split with two-thirds coming from private clients and the remainder from institutions, and the private bank is not forecasting a change to this mix in the near future.

“It is very difficult to predict. These are two very different businesses ... the speed of growth is very different for both lines,” Mr Mirabaud said.

“Historically our main business has been private clients. We started 200 years ago, so asset and institutional management is something we started much later,” he said.

“We want to grow both of them."