The Cooper Fitch Salary Guide for Investment Management represents the predicted market-rate salary ranges for new recruits across the UAE for 2020.
The UAE investment management (IM) industry has seen a slight increase in market-rate salary ranges, and we expect this to continue with a 2% increase into 2020, with demand-driven mainly by government asset consolidation in Abu Dhabi. Market dynamics have changed as the emirate has set up new investment holdings and restructured state vehicles, buoying recruitment activity at holding level as well as within operating subsidiaries.
The UAE IM sector, for this report, includes IM roles within public and private sector firms, asset management companies and IM departments at financial services firms. In 2020, hiring levels are expected to remain healthy, with key players recruiting at similar levels to previous years and newly established companies and funds demonstrating above-average recruitment activity, especially in Abu Dhabi, our experts say.
In particular, 2019 saw considerable demand for portfolio management and private equity roles, and this trend is expected to continue in 2020. Mid- and back-office positions at investment firms will also be in high demand, including treasury, performance reporting, IT, debt management, audit, risk and similar roles.
There is increasing interest among investment companies to hire UAE national talent. However, UAE national talent in the IM field is relatively scarce, especially in private equity, and the issue is compounded by an outflow of UAE-based talent to Saudi Arabia currently, as companies in the kingdom ramp up recruitment on the back of Vision 2030 initiatives. It will, therefore, be harder to retain UAE nationals in the UAE.
There is also a shortage of UAE nationals with the preferred IM industry qualification from the CFA Institute, and this is unlikely to change in 2020, our experts note.
An important driver for IM candidates seeking new opportunities is the prospect of a higher salary. Other than that, investment professionals are looking to work for companies with exciting mandates that give them greater exposure to a broad scope of investments. For this reason, sectorspecific investment companies or governmentowned holdings vehicles are very appealing. In the private equity and merger and acquisition (M&A) fields, candidates often seek a move towards portfolio management, due to a lack of major deals in the region.
For our client firms, candidates with experience of global markets and the ability to bring international best practices to the firm are in high demand. They are also looking for substantial knowledge of stakeholder management, excellent communication skills and cultural intelligence.
To attract and retain the right candidates, firms need to clearly articulate their mission and growth strategy and speed up recruitment processes to reduce the risk of candidates being snapped up by competitors.
M&A in the region has seen a significant increase this year. However, a considerable amount of the activity came from the wider region rather than the UAE and therefore international, and in some cases, local banks seek opportunities across the border increasingly more. Some of the investment banks in the UAE comment that Abu Dhabi was a relatively more active market comparing to Dubai. Nonetheless, UAE has performed strongly when it comes to inbound activity, and there was some significant deal flow especially in the oil and gas sector. The technology sector is among the top when it comes to M&A activity given which is mainly due to Uber's acquisition of Careem Networks. Debt capital markets have also seen a strong performance, and hence M&A and DCM are the main areas of focus when it comes to recruitment in investment banks.
Download the full Investment Management Salary Guide 2020 here
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