International Industry Leaders Address New Opportunities and Overcoming the Challenges on the Road Ahead at the Middle East Asset Management Forum 2016
The asset management industry in the Middle East is well placed for the next phase of progress and is ready to transform based on the demands of a changing global investment landscape.
30th May 2016, KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN: The investment industry in the Middle East has tremendous potential to progress to the next level of development was the view from more than 200 international industry leaders gathered at the inaugural Middle East Asset Management Forum (MEAMF 2016), which opened today at the Gulf Hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The event was held under the patronage of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and supported by the Bahrain Asset Managers Association. Co-convened by UK-based Ethico Live, MEAMF 2016 was attended by industry players representing over 70 international organizations and featured a powerful line-up of expert speakers who discussed topics focused on the theme of: The Road Ahead in the MENA Investment Industry.
The Forum opened with a keynote session featuring Abdul Rahman M. Al-Baker, Executive Director – Financial Institutions Supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain; and Dr. Ahmed Al Jawhary, Chairman of the Bahrain Asset Managers Association (BAMA), who discussed the ongoing progress of the regional asset management industry. This was followed by another high-profile session featuring Nabil Hamadeh, Chief Executive Officer of Capital Growth Management WLL; Shakeel Sarwar, Head of Asset Management of Securities & Investment Company (SICO); and Walid Mourad, Senior Vice President – Portfolio Manager/Analyst of Lazard Gulf Limited, who addressed the significant changes that are set to reshape the asset management industry both globally and within the MENA region.
Speaking on the sidelines of MEAMF 2016, Mr. Al-Baker said that: “The asset management industry is poised to enter an exciting stage in its evolution in the GCC region. The shape of the wealth and asset management sectors in the GCC is unique and the last two decades have conﬁrmed the region’s position as an important ﬁnancial hub for wealth and asset management, as well as a key trading centre connecting East and West. Indeed, the ﬁnancial services industry has made significant contributions to the impressive economic growth rates across the GCC”.
Mr. Al-Baker continued by saying, “However, global economic headwinds, created by uncertainties in China and the decline in oil prices, are challenging the international asset management industry to respond to this changing investment landscape. Nevertheless, positive prospects continue to attract capital to the region in search of high-quality investment opportunities. Bahrain is already the Gulf’s most established fund distribution centre and is an internationally recognized ﬁnancial hub, with the ﬁnancial services sector in Bahrain being not only the largest sector of the non-oil economy but also the largest employer.”
The Middle East Asset Management Forum 2016 also highlighted new opportunities in emerging and frontier markets and this session was led by Johannes Van der Dong, Chief Investment Officer of Takaud Savings and Pensions B.S.C; Dr. Jarmo Kotilaine, Chief Economist of the Economic Development Board of Bahrain (EDB); and Yazan M. Abdeen, Lead Fund Manager, Head of MENA Capital Markets of SEDCO CAPITAL.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Ahmed Al Jawhary, Chairman of Bahrain Asset Managers Association (BAMA), said that: “The Asset Management sector is a growing sector within the fabric of Bahrain’s banking offering as a regional hub with a noticeable steady upward trend over the past few years. The challenges to this promising sector might be more of awareness about the significance of asset management and wealth management regionally. It is time to differentiate between asset management and other parts of banking activities and to have a progressive and a dynamic approach towards this unique element of banking and finance. It is a collective responsibility of financial institutions, practitioners, service providers, regulators, and all other concerned stakeholders in Bahrain to tell the target clientele why professional Asset Managers are important and why their discipline can make the client’s life and/or businesses better or different and thus illustrate how this differentiation can be achieved.
The culture element is very important, you have to overcome cultural barriers to enter any new activity, industry or line of business. Asset management is a key element of any international financial hub such as New York, London or Zurich. It was not given enough or distinct attention by the financial institutions in the region. Even when you had investors investing with a handful of regional investment firms in their random financial offerings and investment products, they were still doing their full-fledged asset management somewhere else in Europe or North America. Through BAMA and this specialized Forum, we’re campaigning, creating awareness and showing potential clients that the same level and quality of asset management services can be delivered regionally on top of whatever they get out of international managers. That is the key to overcoming these barriers.”
Another major highlight at Day 1 of MEAMF 2016 was a live interview session featuring renowned industry leader Anthony Mallis, Vice Chair of the Disciplinary Committee at the Bahrain Bourse, and Managing Principal of Mallis & Co, who shared his experience and insights into the regional investment industry during this interactive onstage interview at the Forum.
The Middle East Asset Management Forum 2016 continues on Tuesday the 31st of May with a series of Interactive Dialogues, the first focusing on Sharing the Experiences of Asset Managers in Regional Hubs; while the second dialogue focuses on Islamic Investment & Capital Markets; and the third dialogue tackles How the FinTech Revolution is Disrupting and Transforming the Asset Management Industry.
The Middle East Asset Management Forum (MEAMF 2016) is organized by Ethico Live! on behalf of the Central Bank of Bahrain.
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