Interview With Jyoti Iyer - Founder Of Dubai-Based Multi-Family Office Xanara Advisors
Jyoti Iyer is the Founder of Xanara Advisors, a Dubai-based and Mauritius-regulated Multi-Family Office.
1. Mrs. Iyer, thank you for speaking to us. You began your career as a banker before you decided to set up a multi-family office? What was the motivation behind this decision?
Post 2008 financial crisis, there was a shift in the Private Banking industry. The explosive need of CRS and being FATF compliant and many more, saw a compelling demand for a change to the Wealth business model. To add up, the wealth management industry being skewed towards product distribution with fees dictated by distributors, it was like a massacre. An affluent client works so hard to make wealth and somewhere during the journey he needs that expertise to assist him to protect, sustain, grow, preserve that wealth to maintain his sanctity. Seeing many real time cases, was a driver to make my decision.
2. What fascinates you most about the Middle East and the people there – clients and colleagues alike?
I can confidently talk about United Arab Emirates.
Decision making, Adapting to change, Resilience in situations, Staying calm in adversity, Admitting to flaws and Being loud of their triumphs. Put all these skills into a jar, shake it well and it is UAE for you. UAE always wants to do more; we push milestones to higher bars. Year 1967 to Year 2020, UAE has commanded identity in the world map with determination, hard work and vision. The country is Active Vs Reactive.
3. Family Offices are becoming more and more popular and it feels that many Asset Managers simply rebrand as Multi-Family Office. What is it that a MFO offers that Asset Managers do not?
I would say that Asset Management is a subset of the MFO. This subset can be serviced in-house or out sourced, to prevent the conflicts. A MFO is the one-stop boutique to provide solutions to the complexities of an affluent ultra-high networth client, and asset management is an example of this solution. MFO offers advisory on investments, tax, philanthropy, real estate, estate planning, anything that makes the life of the client simple, so that he can concentrate on his core activities.
4. Asset Management is obviously part of your service offering. How have you handled the Corona crisis for your clients and what are the lessons you learnt?
The pandemic had limited impact to our business. Undoubtedly, valuations have corrected. We are a “fee based” advisory model. While assets under advisory is important, we are actively engaged with clients on restructuring portfolios, managing leverages, hard negotiating pricing with banks, cash flow management in portfolios. The crisis helped us to truly prove the MFO model and the inherent value-add a MFOs can bring to the table.
5. Wealth owners are looking for safe havens – where do you see Dubai positioned compared to Switzerland and Singapore?
More than safe havens, it is about who are compliant to the basic safe haven standards. Saying this, leadership of the country defines the safe haven too. Dubai is extremely competitive. The country has taken all right steps to ensure the safety of wealth and its people. The regulatory bodies alias the Central Bank, Securities & Commodities Authority along with the Abu Dhabi Global Markets, Dubai International Financial Centre work jointly to up-position Dubai amongst all. Dubai is indeed in top 5 financials center in the global ranking.
6. Dubai is still comparatively new on the world map of global financial centers. Is there still something it can learn from players that have been in the game for much longer, like London, New York, Zurich.
The true growth in Dubai has happened in the past 15 years. That speaks very highly in terms of the achievements and vision. As a global financial center, Dubai is not new anymore. I would say governance and client suitability evaluation (purely from Xanara’s perspective) are two learnings Dubai can pick up from the seniors.
7.Dubai is not known for its lack of financial service providers. What are you doing differently than others?
Xanara is a leading MFO in Dubai. When we started in 2014, we were the only fee based advisory model boutique providing advisory services in-house, with an expansive network to cater to all needs of the private client. It is like a game changer to the wealth management industry. Unlike, where the fees are cannibalized from the product distributor, our model is about been rewarded for the expertise, knowledge and experience.
8. In the introduction we already mentioned that Xanara Advisors is regulated by Mauritius Financial Service Commission. What is the advantage for your clients to work with a firm that operates out of Dubai but is regulated by an African island nation?
So, the parent holding company of Xanara is regulated by the Mauritius FSC. We had a reason for this. When the strategy for Xanara was penned, Middle East & Africa & Pan Asia was key. In order to make a footprint to Africa, we wanted to be based closer to where the wealth of Africa is. So, Mauritius it was. Though the core team was based in Dubai. So, we build synergy between the Mauritius and Dubai office to share services and best practices. By doing so, the client avails the best of both geographies. It was like a tripartite triangular business model. This year 2020 we will also get regulated in UAE, which brings us to a cross border regulatory offering.
9. Does that make automatically make you a specialist for African wealth owners?
Absolutely. The client gets the best of UAE, Mauritius and Africa, under a regulatory framework interacting with the same team of managers. You can call it a Single-Family office for Multiple Families!
10. We all wish for a crystal ball to predict the future. But in your opinion, where do you see Dubai headed in the next 10 years?
Dubai will an epitome example of creation and evolution. It will be the preferred country to perform business. I will not be surprised to see Dubai evolving as an industrial giant and probably see labels “Made in UAE “. While Dubai must continue welcoming new incumbents, it must continue to showcase that the country means peace and happiness.
Mrs. Iyer, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.