The Dubai-based financial advisory firm Globaleye this year is planning to open fully regulated, client-facing outposts in the US and Australia, according to its pin-striped suit-favouring founder, Tim Searle.
Searle, who founded Globaleye in 1999, isn’t revealing much about his plans to expand Globaleye’s reach beyond its current nine-country reach, saying he will provide more detail “before the end of the second quarter”.
Searle revealed this general outline of Globaleye’s expansion plans exclusively to International Investment, in an interview published in its latest (March) edition.
“What I now realise is that if you want to grow your advisory business, you need regulatory clarity and consistency – which you find in places like Singapore – as well as a lot of expatriates and others who need our kinds of services,” Searle said.
“We discovered that the US was one such place, and Australia was another.”
Saudi Arabia, which last year embarked on what its government calls “Saudi Vision 2030”, in an effort to reduce the country’s dependence on oil by diversifying its economy and engaging more with the outside world, is also in Searle’s sights, he added.
Saudi Arabia is a very different type of expat advisory market from the US and Australia, but it has other attractions for Globaleye, including lots of expatriates in urgent need of financial advice, due to its having been effectively closed to the financial advice industry for many years, according to Searle.
He said Globaleye’s move into the jurisdiction is being facilitated by a joint venture it recently concluded with an as-yet-undisclosed insurance broker, which is already licensed by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. As a result, plans are now under way to launch an operation there “imminently”, beginning in the Jeddah market.
Jeddah, a port city on Saudi’s Red Sea coastline, is described on the LoneyPlanet.com website as “the most easygoing city in the Kingdom – not to mention its most beguiling”.
“As markets go, Saudi dwarfs all the others in the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council],” Searle says. “It represents a fantastic opportunity; it’s always been regarded as the Gulf’s ‘honeypot’, but we would never go in there if we weren’t set up correctly there, with the right partners and licence.
“But as we’ve got provisional approval to operate as the approved financial adviser [alongside the un-disclosed JV partner], this will allow us to go into Saudi Arabia at last, and start developing a business there.”
The ‘big picture’
As he discusses Globaleye’s expansion plans, Searle inevitably keeps returning to a central theme: that the entire global financial advisory industry is in the process of a fundamental change that has a long way to run.
“The challenges in the offshore industry will continue apace – changes in regulation, compliance, consumer expectations, fintech, even the geo-political landscape in which we all live,” he says.
To read the full International Investment interview of Tim Searle, in which he also explains in detail his new, years-in-the-works discretionary fund management scheme, Aeon, click here.