After rushing to the Middle East in search of new opportunities in the wake of the financial crisis, Swiss wealth managers have quietly moved their operations back offshore. The lure of a Swiss private banker to Middle Eastern clients was still there, but those clients would rather take a trip to Geneva for the status-symbol prestige – or so the argument goes.
Vontobel moved its Middle Eastern business back to Geneva in 2013 after only two years in the region, as did Pictet. It’s a sign of intent, therefore, that a year later Swiss firm La Cloche Wealth Management (LCWM) has decided to open its first office in the region out of the Dubai International Financial Centre.
“Although we have just opened our offices in Dubai, we have been servicing clients from across the Middle East for many years,” says Manal Al Omari, SEO at LCWM. “We understand the region’s investment culture, trying to provide clients with creative solutions that complement what is being offered by regional banks.
LCWM moved its investment team across from Switzerland initially, but has plans to expand. Over the course of 2014, it will add 8-15 private bankers in its Dubai HQ, according to Al Omari, which is not an insignificant recruitment spree for the Middle East region. They want “experienced private bankers who have an existing client book and a proven track record for success”.
Al Omari outlines what she looks for in new recruits. Hint – you should like interacting with clients.
What three things should someone do before stepping into an interview with you?
It's not about doing something specific, but rather that we look for certain characteristics. For example, the first thing would be someone who looks after the clients interests before their own. We built a company with core values that resonate among all the staff and it is vital that we continue down this path to ensure stability and transparency. The second would be someone who is looking for a better solution for his or her client and not someone who would settle on pushing certain products on their client when there are better alternatives. Finally, I would say that we look for ambitious individuals who would look upon the company as if it were their own.
Imagine I want to work for you, what would make you hire me?
Personality, knowledge, motivation and a client-first attitude.
What would you do if you weren’t working in finance?
I would be a women's rights campaigner or work in some sort of charity. It has been my dream to give back to society and, as an Arab women, I am no stranger to the difficulties that my peers still face to this day, but at the same time I have to acknowledge that through the efforts of certain individuals in the UAE we currently have one of the best environments for women to succeed at the workplace.
What do you do to relax?
I spend time with my family and our newly born grandchild, I also enjoy gardening and reading. I always remind our staff that their time outside the office is just as important as their careers and that a balance between the two is the key to success.