Covid-19 Will Permanently Change The Way Wealth Managers Deliver Advice And Serve Clients In The Middle East

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Covid-19 will fundamentally change the way the Wealth Management industry in the Middle East operates, according to a new report released by Oliver Wyman and Morgan Stanley.

The report, called Wealth Management: After the Storm, highlights how a ‘golden decade’ of growth for the Wealth Management industry has been drastically disrupted by Covid-19 and has introduced a new reality that will require flexible planning to drive performance over the next five years.

Oliver Wyman’s pre-Covid-19 estimates saw wealth growing consistently at six percent from 2019 onwards, however, the pandemic will see roughly one lost year of wealth growth.

“We see global high net worth wealth declining by four percent, or $3.1 trillion in 2020, which is a major shift from the previous decade’s consistent annual growth trajectory,” said Raji Souag, Partner at Oliver Wyman Middle East.

“Wealth Managers have benefited from more than eight percent annual wealth growth on average, however, Covid-19 has introduced a different reality. Although Wealth Managers have proven to be a stable anchor to group profitability, the industry has seen a transformational change during this period.

“To drive this transformation, digitalisation and globalization will be among the immediate priorities of Wealth Management firms. This will allow the industry to sustain its profit margins whilst adhering to rapidly changing client expectations.”

The report says Wealth Managers have previously benefited from strong growth in HNW client wealth, which has offset declining margins and masked operating model inefficiencies. With this ‘tailwind’ gone for the immediate future, Wealth Managers need to act now to position their business to capture longer-term growth in the ‘new normal’.

To succeed, according to the report, Wealth Managers must:

  • Adapt by rolling out new advice delivery models and accelerating digital capabilities
  • Defend business economics by finding operating leverage through improved approaches to cost
  • Consolidate share and drive growth via differentiated product offerings and ‘inorganic’ opportunities

The report highlights how increased digital engagement has underpinned the need for Wealth Managers to re-design their delivery models and accelerate their digitization efforts. Advisors will remain central to client relationships, however, they need to be supported with strong digital capabilities, according to the report.

Although countries in the GCC have traditionally preferred in-person interaction, there has also been a shift in behaviour, driven by emerging wealth segments and generational shifts. Despite this, more than 85 percent of high-net-worth investors polled in a proprietary Oliver Wyman survey prior to Covid-19 said they valued the ability to talk with an advisor, versus less than one third who valued advice delivered via ‘robo-advisors’.

“The market turmoil prompted by the current situation has underscored the value of having access to human advisors driven by the complexity, diversity and urgency of client requests during this period of change,” said Souag.

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Note to editors

Oliver Wyman believes the global economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak depends on its duration, how far it spreads and the extent quarantine disrupts the labour market.

For more Oliver Wyman perspectives on the impact of Coronavirus on education please click here.

About Oliver Wyman 

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 60 cities across 29 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 5,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. For more information, visit Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.