Lindsay Degouve de Nuncques says she is risk-averse when it comes to money. Sarah Dea / The National
Lindsay Degouve de Nuncques says she is risk-averse when it comes to money. Sarah Dea / The National

Money & Me: UAE accountants head knows benefits of living within her means



Lindsay Degouve de Nuncques is the head of ACCA in the UAE, the global body for professional accountants. The Briton, 33, has lived in Dubai for the last seven months and works across the country

Describe your financial journey so far.

I’ve always been careful to live within my means, and that means I am generally quite risk-averse when it come to my finances. A university education in the UK leaves many with a financial debt when you start working, so my initial focus was on clearing that quickly. I have always been keen to start saving for my future, so, for example, I joined a work pension scheme at the first opportunity. As my career and income have grown, so too has my expenditure. Moving to the UAE was a key part of that financial journey, an opportunity to save for the future – though you quickly appreciate that while the income is tax-free, the cost of living is by no means small. School fees, rental prices and utilities all mean that to achieve our savings goals as a family, we need to plan and be thoughtful about expenses. But it is possible to enjoy all that Dubai has to offer while also preparing for the future.

Are you a spender or saver?

Overall, I would say I am a saver. But I am inconsistent. I go through periods when I’m very frugal, and I certainly hate to be in debt of any kind; that includes taking short-term payment loans for large purchases. I’d rather save up in advance. But then I’ll go on a shopping spree for things I don’t really need. I have a particular weakness for things for the house.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Only those with limitless funds can afford to be blasé about money. Financial security is always important, and the crises of 2008-09 brought home the importance of having contingency plans. But it can’t be your only motivation in life. Money is necessary to ensure the security and stability for me and my family in the long term and may influence some decisions I make, but is one factor among many. I am also quite happy to live comfortably but not excessively – being a member of the wealthy elite is not something I aspire to.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

My biggest resulted from an aversion to taking risks. When I first moved to London in 2000, the average house price in the area I lived was about Dh1 million. That seemed a lot to me at the time, and while I didn’t have significant savings, access to credit then was very easy, and it would have been possible to purchase a flat. But I chose to rent rather than take that risk. When we came to buy our first family home in 2007, the average house cost was Dh2m, and now, even after the financial crisis, it costs about Dh2.5m. Had I taken a bigger risk and found a way to invest in property earlier, it would have put me in a fantastic financial position today. However, I know others outside London who lost a lot in property from buying at the wrong time, so it is always a gamble.

If you won Dh1m, what would you do with it?

I would save about Dh300,000, spend Dh170,000 on a new family car, and the rest I’d invest in property either here in the UAE or more likely back home in the UK.

What has been your best investment?

My husband. His financial acumen and property investments at a young age have meant we are in a much more fortunate position than many of our peers in the UK.

Do you plan for the future?

Absolutely. With two small children I am already thinking about their education and how I can support future milestones such as weddings and buying their first home. If it was difficult for me in comparison to my parents, it is going to be much harder for them. I want to ensure they have the financial security growing up that I was fortunate to have.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Holidays. Living in fantastic locations with amazing things to see and do, and with the amazing transport links, I am always dreaming of the next vacation.

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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: Panamera Turbo E-Hybrid

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 hybrid
Power: 680hp
Torque: 930Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
Price: From Dh749,000
On sale: Now

The specs: 2024 Panamera

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 353hp
Torque: 500Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
Price: From Dh408,200
On sale: Now

Thor: Love and Thunder

Director: Taika Waititi 

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi

Rating: 4/5

MADAME WEB

Director: S.J. Clarkson

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tahar Rahim, Sydney Sweeney

Rating: 3.5/5

Company profile

Name: Envi Lodges
Started: September 2021
Co-founders: Noelle Homsy and Chris Nader
Based: UAE
Sector: Hospitality
Number of employees: 12 to 15
Stage of investment: Series A

De De Pyaar De

Produced: Luv Films, YRF Films
Directed: Akiv Ali
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh, Jimmy Sheirgill, Jaaved Jaffrey
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Ejari
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Yazeed Al Shamsi, Fahad Albedah, Mohammed Alkhelewy and Khalid Almunif
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $1 million
Investors: Sanabil 500 Mena, Hambro Perks' Oryx Fund and angel investors
Number of employees: 8

TECH SPECS: APPLE WATCH SE (second generation)

Display: 40mm, 324 x 394; 44mm, 368 x 448; Retina LTPO OLED, up to 1000 nits; Ion-X glass

Processor: Apple S8, W3 wireless

Capacity: 32GB

Memory: 1GB

Platform: watchOS 9

Health metrics: 2nd-gen heart rate sensor, workouts, fall/crash detection; emergency SOS, international emergency calling

Connectivity: GPS/GPS + cellular; Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Durability: Water resistant up to 50m

Battery: 269mAh Li-ion, up to 18h, wireless charging

Cards: eSIM

Finishes: Aluminium; midnight, silver, starlight

In the box: Watch SE, magnetic-to-USB-C charging cable, band/loop

Price: Starts at Dh999 (40mm) / 1,119 (44mm)

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: CarbonSifr
Started: 2022
Based: Dubai
Founders: Onur Elgun, Mustafa Bosca and Muhammed Yildirim
Sector: Climate tech
Investment stage: $1 million raised in seed funding

Results

Stage 4:
1. Juan Sebastian Molano (COL) Team UAE Emirates – 3hrs 50min 01sec
2. Olav Kooij (NED) Jumbo-Visma – ST
3. Sam Welsford (AUS) Team DSM) – ST
General Classification:
1. Remco Evenepoel (BEL) Soudal Quick-Step
2. Lucas Plapp (AUS) Ineos Grenaders – 7″
3. Pello Bilbao (ESP) Bahrain Victorious – 11″

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Seven tips from Emirates NBD

1. Never respond to e-mails, calls or messages asking for account, card or internet banking details

2. Never store a card PIN (personal identification number) in your mobile or in your wallet

3. Ensure online shopping websites are secure and verified before providing card details

4. Change passwords periodically as a precautionary measure

5. Never share authentication data such as passwords, card PINs and OTPs  (one-time passwords) with third parties

6. Track bank notifications regarding transaction discrepancies

7. Report lost or stolen debit and credit cards immediately

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder
Power: 101hp
Torque: 135Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto
Price: From Dh79,900
On sale: Now

The biog

Name: Marie Byrne

Nationality: Irish

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption

Book: Seagull by Jonathan Livingston

Life lesson: A person is not old until regret takes the place of their dreams

UAE jiu-jitsu squad

Men: Hamad Nawad and Khalid Al Balushi (56kg), Omar Al Fadhli and Saeed Al Mazroui (62kg), Taleb Al Kirbi and Humaid Al Kaabi (69kg), Mohammed Al Qubaisi and Saud Al Hammadi (70kg), Khalfan Belhol and Mohammad Haitham Radhi (85kg), Faisal Al Ketbi and Zayed Al Kaabi (94kg)

Women: Wadima Al Yafei and Mahra Al Hanaei (49kg), Bashayer Al Matrooshi and Hessa Al Shamsi (62kg)

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 247hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 370Nm from 1,500-3,500rpm

Transmission: 10-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 7.8L/100km

Price: from Dh94,900

On sale: now

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance: the specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 plus rear-mounted electric motor

Power: 843hp at N/A rpm

Torque: 1470Nm N/A rpm

Transmission: 9-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.6L/100km

On sale: October to December

Price: From Dh875,000+(estimate)

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

UAE-based players

Goodlands Riders: Jamshaid Butt, Ali Abid, JD Mahesh, Vibhor Shahi, Faizan Asif, Nadeem Rahim

Rose Hill Warriors: Faraz Sheikh, Ashok Kumar, Thabreez Ali, Janaka Chathuranga, Muzammil Afridi, Ameer Hamza

The trailblazers

Sixteen boys and 15 girls have gone on from Go-Pro Academy in Dubai to either professional contracts abroad or scholarships in the United States. Here are two of the most prominent.

Georgia Gibson (Newcastle United)
The reason the academy in Dubai first set up a girls’ programme was to help Gibson reach her potential. Now she plays professionally for Newcastle United in the UK.

Mackenzie Hunt (Everton)
Attended DESS in Dubai, before heading to the UK to join Everton full time as a teenager. He was on the bench for the first team as recently as their fixture against Brighton on February 24.

Company profile

Company name: Hakbah
Started: 2018
Founder: Naif AbuSaida
Based: Saudi Arabia
Sector: FinTech
Current number of staff: 22
Initial investment: $200,000
Investment stage: pre-Series A
Investors: Global Ventures and Aditum Investment Management

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

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now

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

How to vote

Canadians living in the UAE can register to vote online and be added to the International Register of Electors.

They'll then be sent a special ballot voting kit by mail either to their address, the Consulate General of Canada to the UAE in Dubai or The Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi

Registered voters mark the ballot with their choice and must send it back by 6pm Eastern time on October 21 (2am next Friday) 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)