Number of regulated firms in GCC exceed

Added 12th January 2015

The number of regulated financial firms operating in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has exceeded expectations and is set to continue to rise, new research by Insight Discovery has revealed.

Number of regulated firms in GCC exceed

Insight has mapped out the number of firms across the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman; the first time such an undertaking has been carried out.

In the UAE, the research found that over 130 firms are regulated by the Insurance Authority (IA), 20 by the Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority (ESCA), and one by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Nigel Sillitoe, chief executive at Insight, said he expects to see a rise in the number of firms regulated by ESCA over the coming months, as businesses register with it for the year.

He added that the number of firms regulated by the IA is likely to drop, as tougher capital adequacy requirements make it difficult for smaller firms, with less money in the bank, to continue to operate.

In Qatar, Insight’s research found that while four firms are regulated by the QFC Regulatory Authority, six firms are operating in the country so-called “grey area”, meaning they are currently conducting business without regulation.

Meanwhile, the research found that a total of 31 firms are currently regulated by the Bahrain Central Bank, Bahrain’s only regulator. This number includes brokers and general insurance brokers.

It also found that 31 firms are regulated by the Oman Central Bank.

The research does not include Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Across the region as a whole, Insight found 237 family offices in operation, 10 social security and pension funds, 21 development funds, and nine grant making institutions.

Grey area

Sillitoe added: “What we have managed to do is map out the whole of the GCC territory. There are far more regulated brokers than we initially predicted, and the research has exceeded expectations.”

The research is intended to throw light on the key distribution channels which are of greatest interest to asset management companies, international life companies, and other service providers.

Insight has excluded sovereign wealth funds from the research as there is already “plenty of information in the public domain” about such products.

Instead, the research covers licensed advisory firms, including those who operate in the GCC ‘grey’ area, local and international private banks, and key tier two & three institutions.

The company first mapped out the number of regulated advisory firms operating in the UAE in August last year.

Its research revealed that a total of around 160 advisory firms are regulated in the UAE by the three different authorities.

The research revealed that 17 advisory firms are regulated by ESCA, 141 by IA, and the remainder by the DIFC.

At the time, Sillitoe said: “Given the trend for service providers to only deal with regulated firms, it is more important than ever for providers to understand the size of the market and who is regulated by which authority.

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