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
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

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



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.

6.30am

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.

8am

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.

9am

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.

11am

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.

Midday

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

2pm

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.

4pm

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.

5pm

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.

7pm

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.

9.30pm

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.

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BULKWHIZ PROFILE

Date started: February 2017

Founders: Amira Rashad (CEO), Yusuf Saber (CTO), Mahmoud Sayedahmed (adviser), Reda Bouraoui (adviser)

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: E-commerce 

Size: 50 employees

Funding: approximately $6m

Investors: Beco Capital, Enabling Future and Wain in the UAE; China's MSA Capital; 500 Startups; Faith Capital and Savour Ventures in Kuwait

How it works

1) The liquid nanoclay is a mixture of water and clay that aims to convert desert land to fertile ground

2) Instead of water draining straight through the sand, it apparently helps the soil retain water

3) One application is said to last five years

4) The cost of treatment per hectare (2.4 acres) of desert varies from $7,000 to $10,000 per hectare 

Mercedes V250 Avantgarde specs

Engine: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo

Gearbox: 7-speed automatic

Power: 211hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 350Nm

Fuel economy, combined: 6.0 l/100 km

Price: Dh235,000

What are NFTs?

Are non-fungible tokens a currency, asset, or a licensing instrument? Arnab Das, global market strategist EMEA at Invesco, says they are mix of all of three.

You can buy, hold and use NFTs just like US dollars and Bitcoins. “They can appreciate in value and even produce cash flows.”

However, while money is fungible, NFTs are not. “One Bitcoin, dollar, euro or dirham is largely indistinguishable from the next. Nothing ties a dollar bill to a particular owner, for example. Nor does it tie you to to any goods, services or assets you bought with that currency. In contrast, NFTs confer specific ownership,” Mr Das says.

This makes NFTs closer to a piece of intellectual property such as a work of art or licence, as you can claim royalties or profit by exchanging it at a higher value later, Mr Das says. “They could provide a sustainable income stream.”

This income will depend on future demand and use, which makes NFTs difficult to value. “However, there is a credible use case for many forms of intellectual property, notably art, songs, videos,” Mr Das says.

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The specs

Price, base / as tested Dh100,000 (estimate)

Engine 2.4L four-cylinder

Gearbox Nine-speed automatic

Power 184bhp at 6,400rpm

Torque 237Nm at 3,900rpm

Fuel economy, combined 9.4L/100km

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

TOURNAMENT INFO

Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

Jul 3- 14, in the Netherlands
The top two teams will qualify to play at the World T20 in the West Indies in November

UAE squad
Humaira Tasneem (captain), Chamani Seneviratne, Subha Srinivasan, Neha Sharma, Kavisha Kumari, Judit Cleetus, Chaya Mughal, Roopa Nagraj, Heena Hotchandani, Namita D’Souza, Ishani Senevirathne, Esha Oza, Nisha Ali, Udeni Kuruppuarachchi

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

The specs

Engine: 77kWh 2 motors
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 410Nm
Range: 402km
Price: Dh,150,000 (estimate)
On sale: TBC

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

TOURNAMENT INFO

Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

Jul 3- 14, in the Netherlands
The top two teams will qualify to play at the World T20 in the West Indies in November

UAE squad
Humaira Tasneem (captain), Chamani Seneviratne, Subha Srinivasan, Neha Sharma, Kavisha Kumari, Judit Cleetus, Chaya Mughal, Roopa Nagraj, Heena Hotchandani, Namita D’Souza, Ishani Senevirathne, Esha Oza, Nisha Ali, Udeni Kuruppuarachchi

Oppenheimer

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon

Rating: 5/5

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)