Daniel Dickinson’s ambitions for Arlo Associates include listing the company over the next five to 10 years. Satish Kumar / The National
Daniel Dickinson’s ambitions for Arlo Associates include listing the company over the next five to 10 years. Satish Kumar / The National

SME profile: Building trust with investors



Daniel Dickinson, a financial adviser to the wealthy for more than a decade, found that the global nature of his business meant that he was spending more time working in the UAE than at home in Britain.

So seven years ago he decided that living in Dubai would be more beneficial for him and his clients.

Four years later, following stints with two of the biggest financial advisory companies in the UAE, Mr Dickinson knew he was ready to fulfil his ambition of going it alone and took his first steps on the entrepreneurial path. Today, with a team comprising former senior bankers in Britain, he has made Arlo Associates – named after his two-year-old son – a reality.

But obtaining the appropriate business licence was not a simple process, says the 32-year-old.

Arlo Associates needed to have Dh6 million in its bank account and a further Dh6m in bank guarantees – mostly raised from private investors – to obtain regulatory approval to operate.

The company has obtained the Insurance Authority licence to be a broker, but the experience was fraught with sleepless nights.

__________

Free advertisement

■ For SMEs who want to place an ad free of charge visit: www.thenational.ae/small-business-ads

__________

“We were given it [the licence] last month and now we can move forward,” says Mr Dickinson.

“There have been some very dark moments in the past couple of years when it seemed that nothing was happening, but now we are here and able to trade.”

With a huge amount of capital – including his savings – tied up, employees already on the payroll and offices rented in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Mr Dickinson came under enormous pressure to keep Arlo Associates on track.

“A lot of people trusted me and it has finally paid off,” he says.

According to the Insurance Authority’s website, the regulator records an authorised broker in the Insurance Brokers Register.

The process costs Dh10,000 in fees and should take 20 working days, according to the authority.

While the process for Arlo Associates took longer than expected, in the bigger picture financial regulators have raised the bar for financial advisory companies who seek a business licence.

The regulators stipulated that financial advisory companies must raise their capital base and ensure that their employees pass rigorous examinations, among other requirements.

Globally, the financial advisory industry has reputational problems. The United States labour department, for example, says that investors lose about US$17 billion a year because brokers do not fully disclose their fees and provide advice that is not in their clients’ best interests.

The image of the financial advisory industry has also been battered in the UAE in recent years, thanks to the system of commission-based selling and the high frequency of cold calls.

Mr Dickinson is willing to defend cold calling, but he says that solely commission-based provision of financial advice and products does not benefit the industry’s reputation in the UAE.

“We do cold call because any business that wants to grow has to reach out to customers,” he says. “We definitely do not have an army of cold callers, but it is a valid business practice and I am proud of the products we offer.”

Mr Dickinson says Arlo Associates is “totally transparent as to who we are and what we do” and that its clients are told in advance of all commissions that it stands to make from selling any financial products. “I would never sell anything that I wouldn’t buy myself,” he says.

Financial advisers at Arlo Associates must obtain relevant qualifications from the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment in Britain.

In the Islamic finance sector, Mr Dickinson says there is a huge potential for business growth and plans to recruit experts in Sharia-compliant financial products.

There are good reasons to be bullish on Islamic finance. The professional services consultancy E&Y predicts that about $900bn in Islamic assets would be traded in 2017, up from $300bn this year.

Arlo Associates has eight staffers based in Abu Dhabi, at the Al Mamoura building, and 15 at an office in Dubai, adjacent to the Burj Khalifa.

Mr Dickinson expects to recruit 50 to 60 new staffers between this year and the end of next year.

The company has grown quickly and is advising on about $200m worth of clients’ funds.

Mr Dickinson’s ambitions for Arlo Associates include listing the company over the next five to 10 years.

He models the company after St James’s Place Wealth Management, a FTSE 100 company with £55.8bn (Dh313bn) of client funds under management.

“They are huge of course, but it would be great for us to be anything like St James’s Place a few years from now,” says Mr Dickinson. “We will build this brand until we are known as a company that you can trust. ”

ascott@thenational.ae

We are on the lookout for SME success stories. If you want to have your business profiled, contact us at business@thenational.ae

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

The specs

Engine: 3.0 twin-turbo inline six-cylinder
Transmission: eight-speed
Power: 503hp
Torque: 600Nm
Price: from Dh400,000 (estimate)
On sale: now

Draw

Quarter-finals

Real Madrid (ESP) or Manchester City (ENG) v Juventus (ITA) or Lyon (FRA)

RB Leipzig (GER) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)

Barcelona (ESP) or Napoli (ITA) v Bayern Munich (GER) or Chelsea (ENG)

Atalanta (ITA) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

Ties to be played August 12-15 in Lisbon

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

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

Drishyam 2

Directed by: Jeethu Joseph

Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba, Murali Gopy

Rating: 4 stars

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

What is the FNC?

The Federal National Council is one of five federal authorities established by the UAE constitution. It held its first session on December 2, 1972, a year to the day after Federation.
It has 40 members, eight of whom are women. The members represent the UAE population through each of the emirates. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah six, and Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain have four.
They bring Emirati issues to the council for debate and put those concerns to ministers summoned for questioning. 
The FNC’s main functions include passing, amending or rejecting federal draft laws, discussing international treaties and agreements, and offering recommendations on general subjects raised during sessions.
Federal draft laws must first pass through the FNC for recommendations when members can amend the laws to suit the needs of citizens. The draft laws are then forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration and approval. 
Since 2006, half of the members have been elected by UAE citizens to serve four-year terms and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Courts of the seven emirates.
In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women. Women also represented 48 per cent of all voters and 67 per cent of the voters were under the age of 40.
 

Kandahar

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Stars: Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal

Rating: 2.5/5

THE SPECS

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder
Power: 210hp
Torque: 320Nm
Price: Starting from Dh89,900
On sale: Now

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

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

 

 

Bahrain GP

Friday qualifying: 7pm (8pm UAE)

Saturday race: 7pm (UAE)

TV: BeIN Sports

JOKE'S ON YOU

Google wasn't new to busting out April Fool's jokes: before the Gmail "prank", it tricked users with mind-reading MentalPlex responses and said well-fed pigeons were running its search engine operations .

In subsequent years, they announced home internet services through your toilet with its "patented GFlush system", made us believe the Moon's surface was made of cheese and unveiled a dating service in which they called founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page "Stanford PhD wannabes ".

But Gmail was all too real, purportedly inspired by one – a single – Google user complaining about the "poor quality of existing email services" and born "millions of M&Ms later".