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Six finance firms with growth strategies in the Middle East

Dubai-night

Wading through banks’ strategy announcements can be a tricky business, filled as they are with jargon and euphemisms designed to keep their share price buoyant. When it comes to the Middle East, however, one thing is clear – not everyone is in growth mode.

Royal Bank of Scotland looks to be applying the final death knell to its regional business by mulling the sale of its Middle East loan book. Standard Chartered, which employs hundreds in Dubai, is currently exiting part of its UAE SME business as pressure mounts for it to cut risk.

So, which multinationals are viewing the Middle East as a region for growth? Here’s our pick of firms that could be offering career opportunities in the next few months.

UBS

UBS closed its Dubai representative office in September, instead opting for the gleaming towers of Abu Dhabi’s emerging financial centre. At the time, the firm said it would maintain the same level of coverage and “strengthen its footprint” across the UAE.

Comparatively speaking, the number of people employed by UBS in the MENA region is tiny – it has 166 staff – but this number has been increasing, proportionately. This is up by 6%, one of the biggest increases at the bank of any region, even as it continues to implement redundancies across its investment bank globally.

Deutsche Bank

The most significant announcement for Deutsche’s MENA operations in recent months was the appointment of Tamim Jabr to lead its Saudi Arabia corporate and investment banking coverage business in October. However, recruiters in the region tell us that Deutsche Bank is hiring. Trade finance, a lucrative business area for a lot of banks in the Middle East, is an area of focus, but there are suggestions that its corporate and investment bank could also be hiring. 2015 is likely to create some opportunities in MENA at Deutsche, suggest headhunters.

Julius Baer

Switzerland’s third largest private bank is betting – much like some of its smaller rivals – that wealth creation in the Middle East will enable it to expand its business in the region. While 2013 saw wealth managers like Vontobel move its Middle Eastern business back to home markets, this year firms are moving in. Falcon Private Bank is bulking up in the region, while La Cloche Wealth Management, launched a DIFC office earlier in 2014.

Julius Baer has stated its desire to double assets under management over the next two years. More hires could be forthcoming.

HSBC

The Middle East has long been a significant market for HSBC, but it’s been far from plain sailing over the past couple of years. The firm has cut back private bankers and curbed the size of its M&A team in recent times. However, 2014 appears more positive, with revenues in the Middle East up 28% to $487m on the same period last year. Considering revenues are sliding elsewhere in the world, the Gulf could become more important next year.

Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s has unveiled its first office in the Middle East by kick-starting an operation in the DIFC in response to “demand from managing agents to establish a presence in Dubai”. So far, Mark Cooper, its country manager, is the only hire, but if business picks up there could be new opportunities.

Societe Generale

SocGen has been effusive about the growth prospects of the Middle East since the beginning of 2014 when it said that it was seeking to boost lending in the region. Since then, it’s unveiled plans to expand, ending the third quarter by saying that the GCC is a “key component of our growth strategy” and that it would be “selectively recruiting” in the region going forward.

 

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