UAE's wealthy are more risk averse since the Covid-19 pandemic, survey finds

Financial market volatility and poor investment returns weigh on their confidence, Standard Chartered says

Dubai, UAE - May 20, 2010 - Stock traders at the Dubai Financial Market. (Nicole Hill / The National)

About 43 per cent of affluent individuals in the UAE believe the Covid-19 pandemic weakened their confidence in their finances and prevented them from achieving new financial goals, according to a new survey by Standard Chartered.

Thirty-five per cent of affluent people surveyed said financial market volatility was the main cause of their diminished confidence, 30 per cent cited a fear of poor returns on investments, while 26 per cent said the complexity of developing an investment strategy was a deterrent, the British lender said.

Standard Chartered polled 15,649 emerging affluent, affluent and high-net-worth people across 12 markets, including India, China, Singapore, the UAE and the UK, between June 30 and July 26.

The total wealth of high-net-worth individuals globally rose 7.6 per cent in 2020 to about $80 trillion, driven by government stimulus measures and rising equity markets, according to Capgemini. The global number of HNWIs grew by 6.3 per cent in 2020 to surpass the 20-million mark, the global consultancy said in its World Wealth Report 2021 in June.

“The UAE affluents have become more risk averse and are actively adapting their finances to the global economic situation with eyes on global market volatility and interest rate levels,” said Owen Young, regional head of wealth management for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Standard Chartered.

“A sizeable percentage of the affluent sample in the UAE expect future returns to drop and are aligning their portfolios to this new normal.”

The UAE’s emerging affluent respondents to the survey disproportionately suffered a loss of confidence after Covid-19, with 46 per cent reporting they were less assured about their finances compared with 30 per cent of HNW individuals, the survey found.

About 88 per cent of affluent individuals in the UAE reset their life goals following the pandemic, according to Standard Chartered.

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The global pandemic impacted both the investment perception and risk profiles of UAE affluents
Owen Young, regional head of wealth management for EMEA, Standard Chartered

Forty-seven per cent set a goal to improve their health, while 39 per cent are setting aside more for their children’s future, including educational or financial support.

To meet these new goals, the UAE’s affluent need new strategies to grow their wealth. However, their current “confidence gap” has made many increasingly averse to risk, the survey found.

“A sizeable percentage of the affluent sample in the UAE expect future returns to drop and are aligning their portfolios to this new normal.”

“The global pandemic impacted both the investment perception and risk profiles of UAE affluents,” Mr Young said.

A significant proportion of the UAE’s affluent consumers are also at risk of a financial shortfall to cover their retirement, the lender said.

Thirty-one per cent of affluent people in the UAE do not currently save or invest for retirement, the survey found. Among those who do save, 50 per cent said investment income is the most common expected source of income in retirement, while 37 per cent cited cash savings and deposits.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent of UAE affluent consumers plan to retire before the age of 65, while 19 per cent have set a new financial goal in the past 18 months to retire earlier, the survey said.

Updated: November 15th 2021, 5:30 AM
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