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A Partner for Business in UAE The Editor offers insights into the needs, aspirations and solutions for businesses in UAE that are making a direct contribution to economic growth.

A Partner for Business in UAE

A Partner for Business in UAE

by Helen Sanders, Editor, with Alan Kerr, General Manager - Wholesale Banking Group, Dubai & Northern Emirates, and Bhupesh Sharma, Head Mid Corporate Division, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

As one of the most economically dynamic regions of the world, United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also one of the most diverse, with a high proportion of both government-owned and family-owned enterprises in addition to publicly listed domestic and foreign corporations and financial institutions. In this article, Alan Kerr, General Manager - Wholesale Banking Group, Dubai & Northern Emirates and Bhupesh Sharma, Head of the Mid-Corporate Division offer insights into the needs, aspirations and solutions for businesses in UAE that are making a direct contribution to economic growth.

Business profile in UAE

UAE has a proud heritage of family-owned businesses, of varying sizes and maturity in their corporate lifecycle: some of which have been operating since the 1950s while others are far more recently incorporated. While many of these owners have chosen to maintain their businesses as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), others have grown into mid-cap companies and large conglomerates with complex needs both domestically and internationally. Owners of these businesses – of whatever size - often continue to play an active management role in their organisations, and in some cases are supported by externally sourced managers, often with international experience. Alan Kerr outlines,

“Many of these family-owned companies are now going through a generational shift with sons and daughters who have been educated at universities in US and UK becoming involved in the business. These highly educated individuals, who have often gained experience in the world’s largest and most respected companies, are now seeking to implement best practices in financial management and processing within their businesses, to enhance investor and stakeholder confidence and maintain their competitive position.”

This focus on efficiency and control to enhance competitiveness is a characteristic most commonly associated with large multinationals, particularly those operating in industries with narrow margins. In this respect, therefore, the needs of privately versus publicly owned businesses are becoming more closely aligned. However, as Alan Kerr comments,

“Although it is difficult to generalise, family owned companies are often able to take a longer-term view of corporate strategy than their publicly owned peers. While these businesses are typically highly entrepreneurial, they may be more patient in seeing results than taking a quarter by quarter view, allowing more innovation and subtlety in their strategic planning.”

The value of long-term relationships

Family-owned businesses of all sizes, as well as government entities are typically attracted to a strong local bank such as ADCB rather than the branch of a foreign multinational bank. There are a number of reasons for this, as Bhupesh Sharma suggests,

“Firstly, we value long-term relationships as opposed to taking a transactional approach, so individuals form strong bonds that last over many years. By maintaining a deep understanding of the business, we can design and deliver solutions that are specifically suited to customers’ needs, and we retain accountability for the success of these solutions in the longer term.”

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