Over the eight years that we have been producing Insight Discovery’s flagship Middle East Investment Panorama, we have asked the advisers whom we have interviewed across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region to name the asset management firms with whom they have had the most dealings.

The answers have been remarkably consistent. In late 2016, for instance, half the advisers and bank gatekeepers with whom we spoke as a part of last year’s MEIP mentioned that they had had dealings in the 18 months prior to that time with each of Fidelity, Emirates NBD, BlackRock, JP Morgan Asset Management, Franklin Templeton, Invesco and Schroders. (Slightly) fewer had had dealings with Columbia Threadneedle, Old Mutual Global Investors and Investec. When we considered how the various firms had been ranked by the survey respondents, Natixis and Goldman Sachs Asset Management also appeared among the leaders.

In 2017, we had little doubt that the advisers would report similar familiarity with the ‘usual suspects’ among the asset managers. Accordingly, we asked the advisers a different question: if you invested US$10,000 of your own money in a mutual fund today, assuming a medium risk profile with a three-to-five year investment horizon, which asset management company would you choose?

Many of the ‘usual suspects’ appeared in the long list of answers. So too did several companies – such as Quilter Cheviot, Brooks MacDonald International and Canaccord Genuity – which are among the region’s leading providers of discretionary fund management (DFM) services. The list included names which hinted at the geographical origin of the adviser in question – such as South Africa’s Aeon, Momentum and Netbank and India’s Sundaram Asset Management. Some advisers’ answers indicated an orientation towards exchange-traded funds (ETFs): Vanguard, Russell Group and iShares all appeared on the list as well.

Clearly some advisers are working with particular asset management companies because those companies have long been promoting their offerings in the region and are well known to the advisers’ clients. However, there are obviously opportunities for asset management companies that are targeting sophisticated investors – such as the advisers themselves.

Insight Discovery’s MEIP digital report for 2017 can be found here: https://insight-discovery.lastworddigital.com