What is the competitive landscape like for you?
We run not only some global strategies from Dubai but also local strategies. Since we have the range of global and local strategies, we arguably can offer more than the local players, whose strategies generally remain local. We have our feet in both buckets. With a roughly USD709.5-billion portfolio globally as of July 31, 2019, clients attach credibility and trust with us. At the end of the day, we are a business of trust.
What do you consider an ideal investment strategy for any clients looking to enter the region?
In terms of what is most ideal for investors, there are two things. One is that most global investors have a large domestic bias. If investors are getting decent returns buying in the local currency, they are not interested in taking their money elsewhere. However, some of the more sophisticated clients have the GCC as a big chunk of their portfolio as well as global equity, global fixed income, and investments in China or India. The challenge in the Middle East is that most private bankers are chasing high-end clients, so this segment is over banked. There is more work to be done in the mass market, especially the middle class, which is not well serviced at present.
What products differentiate Franklin Templeton Investments?
We launched the industry's first Islamic buy-and-hold product. It was the first time such a fund was launched in the market. We have had more customized funds since as well. We have also acquired prestigious new institutional clients. This has given us great credibility in the market and will help us build a track record in the high yield space moving forward. We have also acquired different strategies, such as Brazilian equity. It gives us a great feeling that we have such a wide range of capabilities and strengths within the firm. Sharia assets have also seen great growth, representing over USD2 billion.