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No honey, no money: Wealth managers learn the regional ropes

No honey, no money: Wealth managers learn the regional ropes

Investment managers must go beyond facts and learn to woo potential clients in the region through good reputation and genuine human connection, says Precious de Leon.

October 4, 2011 3:39 by



Wealth fund and investment managers flocking to the GCC are realising that gaining customer confidence in the region isn’t as simple as flashing a great big smile and impressing with your investments portfolio.

The National has given these poor little managers some space to whine, I mean raise concerns, about not being handed oodles of dollars even in the world’s richest country per capita, Qatar. While I’m sure they are just trying to do their jobs of offering new investment options to the wealthy, I’m unimpressed at their expectations that a wealthy person in the Middle East would (or should) behave like a wealthy individual anywhere else in the world.

Forget that the whole world is afraid to let go of money. Forget that the people in this region are still relatively new players in the investment world.

Having been in the Middle East for more years than we care to count, this is a clear cut case of connection that is the culprit behind the absence of business among wealth fund management.

Connection, in this case, alludes to that more intimate level of relationship between fund manager and client.

Those who have clocked a good few years in this region will have had stories to share where creating partnerships with regional companies meant hours of meetings without even so much as talking about business. In place of business discussions would be chats about sports, families, current events.

While this may raise some eyebrows from most expatriates flying into the region hoping to make a quick buck, we do not see this as an old-world way of doing things but just a different way of conducting business.

Think back to that multicultural class you took as an elective in University (if you’re in Dubai, hopefully you did study something closely related to this subject). The word ethnocentrism comes to mind when I came across this story.

The Middle East, like most parts in Asia Pacific (like Japan or China) treasures personal connection even in business partnerships. One fund manager in the article said that “tapping into the surging wealth in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf region…could require investment in offices, branding and marketing for years or even decades.” Well, wouldn’t the same apply to any other region or country you are entering for the first time? So why expect…

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