Day in the life: Abu Dhabi financial planner ready to look after your money

Malcolm Bell, a UK qualified financial planner and managing director of wealth management company, Acuma, reveals his typical day advising clients on their investment strategies.

Malcolm Bell is a managing partner at Acuma, where he advises his clients on how and where they should invest their money. Silvia Razgova / The National
Powered by automated translation

Malcolm Bell is a UK-qualified financial planner and the managing partner of the wealth management company Acuma. The Briton has worked in the industry for 17 years and has spent the past five years living in Abu Dhabi.


The alarm goes off and the kettlebells sitting on my bedroom floor look at me in disgust as I tiptoe past them. I’m a firm believer in a good start to the day, so breakfast is a big bowl of Dorset Cereal with fresh banana, raspberries and blueberries. It’s not quite the required five-a-day, but it helps. I also watch BBC World News or Sky News to check up on any events that may have occurred overnight.


I’m in the office checking the closing prices of the world’s stock markets from the day before and the price of gold and oil with a large cup of coffee to hand. I then read any emails that have come in over night.


I spend the next hour designing a solution for a client’s financial goals after a meeting that took place the previous evening. This could be a regular savings plan (such as a pension substitute), a possible pension transfer, lump-sum investment or life insurance to protect a family in the event of premature death or critical illness. I then spend some time with the guys in the office giving them advice based on my 17 years of experience in the industry. This enables them to give the best possible advice to their own clients.


I have a client meeting with a man who’s been in Abu Dhabi for a couple of years; he’s concerned that his retirement plans need reviewing. We discuss his circumstances and I ask numerous questions about his future plans and financial goals. Thankfully he’s sufficiently impressed with my knowledge and advice to commit to a further meeting and to recommend me to friends and colleagues. It’s really important that those who are looking for a financial planner do their research and establish what qualifications he or she has, and from which country they obtained these qualifications. Furthermore, you should check whether the company that they represent is fully licensed and regulated in the UAE. Sadly, too many are not.


Sometimes I grab a bite to eat around lunchtime, but more often than not I’ll work through.


I have another client meeting and this time it’s a follow up to a previous meeting. I’ve designed a solution for this particular client’s retirement planning and he’s very happy with it, so he’s completing the necessary paperwork. In the meantime, we’ve also put in place some life coverage, so that in the event of his premature death his wife and family are protected.


It’s back to the office to complete the paperwork from the earlier meeting to ensure that it’s all in order and promptly sent to the product provider.


If there’s any spare time I’ll go home and grab a bowl of pasta. If there’s no time I’ll try to get something to eat later.


I have an evening meeting with clients. I meet a couple that have been in the region for five years and have accumulated some capital, but they are concerned about their children’s higher education fees, as they plan to send them to university in the United Kingdom. We discuss the cost of sending children to the UK to study and we all agree that this is something that needs to be planned for and managed. We then discuss a suitable vehicle for their lump-sum investment. The couple wants to ensure that the investment is held in a part of the world that gives the highest levels of protection for their investment and that the recommended funds reflect their attitude to risk. We discuss this and they complete our risk profiler so that we can match funds to profile. We agree to meet again in a few days when I’ve completed my research and have sent them my recommended solution.


I arrive home, put the kettle on and unwind while watching some TV. The kettlebells are still staring at me from the bedroom floor. I’ll catch up with some personal emails and if the awesome Manchester United is playing I’ll try to make sure that I watch them.

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights