TBY talks to Philippe Ghanem, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director of ADS Securities, on the strengths of the Abu Dhabi financial system.

Where are the greatest strengths of Abu Dhabi's financial services sector?

There are several strengths. Number one has to be the solidity of Abu Dhabi in terms of capitalization. It is secure and nonpolitical. It is a country that you feel is business driven. And it is growing around you and building a sophisticated platform to allow you to do business. With the right laws, technology, infrastructure, and geographical position, you can only succeed. This is what Abu Dhabi offers and these are its strengths.

Did these factors draw you here initially?

The solid nature of the market attracted me. As a trader I know that clients just want to worry about their position; they don't want to be worried about the government going bankrupt, or whether the company they are trading with is about to go under. We have one of the highest capitalizations in the world in terms of brokerage houses, and this is important for credibility and sustainability.

“We have one of the highest capitalizations in the world in terms of brokerage houses."

What are the other competitive advantages that ADS offers?

The advantage ADS offers is unprecedented in the region. It is a fully fledged investment and financial institution with all the services that a financial institution needs to have—brokerage, online trading, fixed income, and the global market. We offer liquid products that provide traders in the region and abroad with the opportunity to generate profits. The geographical position of Abu Dhabi is also important. When we are awake here and tracking the markets at 7.00 am, it is 3.00 am in London. At 3.00 am, the London chief dealers are asleep. In any market in the world, if the chief dealer is not awake, there is no market. This is where we leverage our geographical position to our advantage. When we first opened, no one believed that we would succeed. Yet today, we are trading billions of dollars in volume, and clients are opening accounts here every day, trading, and using our services. This proves that Abu Dhabi has a geographical position that people want to use, and that it can be a price producer. I want Abu Dhabi to be a market maker. Whether you want to sell Turkish lira, euro, dollar, or the Brazilian real, there will be market makers in Abu Dhabi to take this business. The region will bridge the trading between Asia and Europe and make sure that there is always a good price for all over-the-counter (OTC) products. The announcement of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) puts the laws in place that allows this to happen. People can do business here, just as in London, Geneva, or New York.

How does technology improve your services?

Anywhere in the world, clients can open an account with us. We have offices here, as well as in Singapore and Hong Kong, and have teams covering all the main financial markets. You can deposit funds, download your platform, and trade. We have a major research department. We have invested heavily in research and information that allow you to have precise information on the markets. ADS representatives appear regularly on regional and international business channels to let traders know how markets are behaving. On the technological side, we have developed our own new generation proprietary platform. This is a first for the UAE and the Middle East. Nonetheless, you can have the best technology, but it won't work alone; you need to have a good price and, above all else, excellent service. You need to support and invest with your client, because only then can you claim to run a company.

© The Business Year - June 2014