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Banks are having serious problems finding enough people to work for them in the Gulf, but don’t get too excitable

A posting in the Gulf isn’t what it used to be. Bahrain has lost a lot of its appeal and banks have been making redundancies, relocating top Gulf-based people back to the UK, or deciding that maybe Africa is the better bet.

Equally, despite the sun and despite the beaches, the standard of living in the Gulf isn’t seen as particularly high. Yesterday’s Mercer Quality of Living ranking put Dubai 74th, Abu Dhabi 78th, Doha 106th and Riyadh 157th. London came 38th.
This may help explain why there’s a bit of a talent shortage happening at banks in the Gulf region.

Accenture surveyed 80 ‘C-level’ executives in the GCC and 60% of them said finding enough employees was a “significant challenge.” 90% of them said “attracting and retaining talent” were going to be their most important strategy in future.

Even better, 51% of Accenture’s respondents said they wanted to revamp compensation and offer higher salaries and bonuses.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Accenture’s survey covered retail banks as well as wholesale banks. A lot of the jobs are likely to relate to “distribution networks, branches and ATMs,” or, “integrating channels for more seamless customer experiences.” Even if you get to go to the beach after work, this may not prove a panacea to losing your investment banking job in London.

Comments (13)

  1. I’ll tell you why they can’t find staff. because the british they got working there get so cosy and comfortable living in the sun that they become so lazy and sloppy.
    I’ve got 8 years prop trading at a tier 1 bank in london and i speak fluent arabic. I applied to several jobs a long while back. 6 MONTHS later i start hearing back saying they URGENTLY want to interview me. Another two months later they actually slot me in for an interview.
    Interviews went perfectly. They got references from every single boss i’ve ever had. and its now 3 months since the interviews and they haven’t given me an answer.

    on top of all of that, their salary just tries to match what i get in london after tax so that my actual income is the same. so what the hell is the point of going to a “tax free” country if its the companies who get to benefit from the difference rather than the employee. especially since THEY pay no tax either !!!

    that, my friends, is why they are struggling. lazy, sloppy, unprofessional, arrogant and inconsiderate.

  2. GCC is a rubbish place to live. Arrogant camel jockeys and idiot Brits, the result is a disgusting mix that deters most Europeans.

  3. Camel Jockeys? Aint that racist like?

  4. there is a lot of truth in what has been said in above comments. The recruitment process is ridiculously long and painful. Even after successful interviews it takes too long for a response and of course they expect you to effectively take a paycut to factor in the tax differential.

  5. Very useful info esp. from the comment.

    “their salary just tries to match what i get in london after tax so that my actual income is the same”

    Is that general practice though? If that’s the case, yes, it does make the entire exercise rather pointless.

  6. I wouldn’t take any comment from a greek man seriously given they are on the verge of defaulting.

  7. big words from a greek guy. too bad they are about to default and most europeans want they kicked out of EU. Nothing most disgusting than greeks anyway

  8. Ah the joys of working in the Gulf. Endless desert, bathtub warm water, hookers galore, 7 star restaurants, 9 star hotels, ski slopes in the desert, half finished building projects, tailgating by crazy locals drive at 120 mph down the motorway, more camels than you can shake a stick at – sounds just like in our small provincial town except we insist that everyone leaves their cares before entering our Shangri La

  9. @MidEaster
    I think your spate of unemployment is less down to the inefficiency of Gulf banks and more due to the fact that prop trading is being replaced by a couple a few 100 lines of code that doesn’t require a bonus and that prop trader skillset is utterly useless outside of prop trading. You can’t code, can’t schmooze clients, can’t give presentations, can’t generate new business, you have no networks of contacts in different industries (oil/gas for ME). You just watch a number :’-(

    Roles in the Gulf are either for people with bulging contacts books, who are usually locals who’ve gone overseas and snazzed themselves up with an MBA, or Brits with niche skillsets they can’t get overthere (I have friend whose making a mint setting up TV studios). Why Brits? They just tend to have more wanderlust than Belgians, they’re not Americians and for whatever historical reasons they’re quite still well regarded by employers.

    A seperate issue is of course huge casual racism by locals towards South Asians, which also applies to 2nd gen who may have been born and bred elsewhere (i.e UK). They see the name on cv and in the bin it goes.

    Lawrence of Suburbia Reply
  10. In relation to the tax issue, I believe the question one should make is: do we spend less if we go to the Gulf? If so, net income is higher and, ceteris paribus, may be a good oportunity.

  11. spent 5 yrs in dubai and bahrain including a bunch of time managing money for UHNW families. am indian and only thing that got me treated OK was my ivy league masters.

    unless you are a sales guy/ private banker on commission, the tax arbitrage is indeed mostly kept by the employer. the other case is where you get a more senior/ front office role when your credentials won’t get you that role in the ‘real’ world (London/ HK/ NY or even Mumbai now).

    as an investor, you start to get bored after a while with no ecosystem around really to exchange ideas with and talk about markets. just sales guys and accountants.

  12. “You can’t code, can’t schmooze clients, can’t give presentations, can’t generate new business, you have no networks of contacts in different industries (oil/gas for ME). You just watch a number :’-( ”

    Trust me when I say that ‘watching a number’ can be very lucrative!

  13. Only two kinds of creature get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.

    Lawrence of Arabia Reply

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