Guardian Wealth Management, the Dubai-based advisory group founded by David Howell and John Hasberry more than 20 years ago in the UK, said it is launching a corporate services business in response to what it has identified as an un-met demand in the region, and named Mike Coady to run it.
In a statement on Wednesday, Guardian Wealth said its new operation, GWM Corporate Solutions, would provide services to business owners, particularly of small- and medium-sized (SME) firms, in the areas of organisational development, financial management and investment planning.
Its experts will help such business owners and their companies “with everything from insurance for [their] employees through to shareholders, business loan protection and company pension planning”, Guardian Wealth said in a statement.
The new operation comes at a time when many advisory firms, in the offshore market as well as the UK, are looking to expand their range of products and services for clients, as the margins on traditional investments shrink – in part because of growing transparency as a result of new regulations, as well as increased costs resulting from the growing burden of complying with the new regs.
22,000 SMEs start-ups
Explaining its decision to launch the new corporate services business, Guardian Wealth cited recent data showing that some 22,000 SMEs had been set up in the UAE in 2015, and noted that estimates are that the 2016 figure could be even higher.
Other data, it said, reveals that SMEs currently account for 42% of Dubai’s workforce, indicating that “there is a clear market for specialist advice for [small- and medium-sized] business owners” in the region.
As reported, Coady, pictured above, a well-known figure in offshore financial advisory circles, resigned from the deVere Group last December after 12 years with the firm – a GWM rival which is also based in Dubai.
In addition to his role overseeing the corporate services business, Coady will also continue to be responsible, as announced when he joined Guardian Wealth in December, for overseeing the company’s expansion into new regions, with new brands, and the development of more technology-supported distribution channels.
Roll out across GWM Group
GWM Corporate Solutions will first be offered to clients out of the company’s Dubai base, then rolled out to its global outposts, a GWM spokesperson said.
Also involved in the new corporate services operation, working alongside Coady, will be Neil Stewart, who has been one of Guardian Wealth’s senior financial planners and who has worked in the advisory industry for the past nine years, both in the UK and the UAE, Guardian Wealth said, as well as one other person, who it didn’t immediately name. A few more specialists are expected to be hired before the end of the year.
In the statement detailing the new GWM business, Coady, whose title is chief commercial officer, explained that “eas[ing] the burdens on business owners, so that they can concentrate on successfully running their companies” was the goal.
“The UAE is an exceptionally entrepreneurial country, which is fast becoming a vibrant domestic market as well as being a MENA business hub,” he added.
One example of the kind of service the new operation will provide, Coady went on, is so-called “business partnership insurance”, or shareholder protection, which business owners, particularly in the Gulf, often don’t realise they should have had until unforeseen circumstances occur, such as when one of the partners in a business partnership suffers a critical illness or dies.
In such cases, the individual’s holding in the business could, if arrangements hadn’t been made initially, “pass to their next-of-kin, as opposed to [the] co-director [of the business]”, Coady said.
“This [in turn] could present a number of problems, such as the involvement of inexperienced family members [in the business], a forced sale to an unsuitable buyer, or a renegotiation of loans from banks or creditors”.
Also useful, but often overlooked, Coady said, is business loan protection; this, along with key person insurance, gratuity planning and pension planning are among the new Guardian Wealth operation’s offerings.
In addition to its Dubai head office, Guardian Wealth has offices in Abu Dhabi, Geneva, Hong Kong and, in the UK, London and Doncaster.