Middle Eastern Asset Management Industry Remains Resilient During COVID-19, Reaching USD 1.2 Trillion in 2020

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Sovereign wealth funds and retail mutual funds assets were fundamental to the 11 percent growth from USD 1.1 trillion in 2019, with further growth opportunities likely as markets emerge from economic difficulties 

Mustafa Bosca, Managing Director and Partner BCG

Dubai: The disruptive nature of the COVID-19 health crisis has been unrelenting, with repercussions implicating all societal areas. Yet despite the unprecedented turbulence of late, the asset management industry in the Middle East has emerged in a favorable position, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled ‘Global Asset Management 2021: The $100 Trillion Machine,’ illustrates that the Middle East’s Assets Under Management (AuM) have witnessed double-digit growth in recent times, increasing by 11 percent from USD 1.1 trillion in 2019 to USD 1.2 trillion in 2020. 

“Much like every sector, the resilience of the asset management industry was tested in 2020, with initial outbreak disruption and subsequent economic tailwinds presenting a period of sizeable uncertainty for the industry and its incumbents,” said Harold Haddad, Managing Director and Partner, BCG. “However, the Middle East has prevailed in the face of adversity, and it is now apparent that the region has entered 2021 in a position of strength following healthy returns.”

As per the report’s findings, AuM growth in the region is primarily attributed to an increase in sovereign wealth funds (SWF) assets, mostly due to strong capital market performances. Many SWFs had high equity exposure in developing and emerging markets, faring well as the financial landscape regained a degree of pre-pandemic stability. Furthermore, another main driver of AuM growth was retail investors. In the Middle East, retail mutual funds had 12 percent growth during 2020, with strong global market performance instigating this outcome. 

The 19th annual BCG study of the global asset management industry explores the extent of growth that other markets have accumulated during challenging conditions, showcasing key drivers while providing comprehensive explanations. At the global level, net inflows for the asset management industry reached USD 2.8 trillion in 2020, or 3.1 percent of the total AuM at the beginning of the year – compared to a historical average between 1-2 percent over the previous decade. Again, retail investors proved to be the main driver behind AuM growth. Global retail AuM portfolios grew globally by 11 percent in 2020, representing 41 percent of global assets at USD 42 trillion. Institutional investments also grew at a similar pace to reach USD 61 trillion, or 59 percent of the global market. 

“The asset management industry is coming out of the recent crisis with notable changes. Although the operating environment continues to change, the growth recorded from 2019-2020 – in such a precarious climate – implies further development in due course as countries continue their reemergence, with many opportunities sure to present themselves as new trends accelerate,” said Mustafa Bosca, Managing Director and Partner, BCG. “From an industry player perspective, the objective looking ahead will be to pursue a sustainable growth strategy that revolves around differentiation and advantage, with client engagement models, investment products, operating models, and talent strategy all potential areas that could be prioritized.” 

BCG’s 2021 Global Asset Management report considers how new realities – for example, in markets and technology – will shape future industry leaders and why specific areas, such as private markets, ESG investing, and advanced data and analytics, are likely to play key roles. Given the opportunities for asset management industry growth and transformation in the years ahead, the study also explores private markets’ outlook and projections. BCG highlights the potential for sizeable progress within private markets, especially for firms that can successfully enter the retail market, systematically use data and analytics to enhance decision making, and integrate meaningful ESG metrics. 

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