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Jessica Cook
Private Client Adviser LLB (Hons) DipFA ASCI

Jessica Cook: Financial Advice in Dubai & the UAE

You are likely to have a lot of questions about what good financial advice looks like in Dubai. I will aim to answer most of them on this page.

Taking the steps to ensure financial security in your future is a sensible move for senior professionals. But it can be even more important when you have the added complexities of living outside your home country.

Dubai is a melting pot. An incredible place to live, providing a wonderful quality of life for a diverse range of people. A rich and interesting environment, with a unique culture and an economy that is constantly evolving and offering new opportunities. As a professional in this country, you have the chance to work hard and the opportunity to boost your financial prospects.

When selecting a financial planner, you should be careful to choose someone with experience and who has a good understanding of the unique rules and regulations that make up the economy of Dubai. Especially as It is unlikely that the financial advice you receive here will be the same as you would expect back home. Make sure to do plenty of research and ensure your adviser is regulated by the appropriate organisations and suitably qualified.

Managing Your Money in Dubai

Every client has a unique situation which requires a detailed understanding of their financial position and future prospects. A successful plan is built on this knowledge.

If you are looking to boost your wealth and protect your financial future, you will need a financial plan that covers every aspect of your life. Comprehensive wealth analysis covers absolutely everything that could be used to grow and future-proof your assets.

Financial Advice in Dubai for International Professionals

The lifestyle in Dubai is fast-paced – in a country that is constantly changing and adapting to the needs of its citizens, the opportunities are plentiful. However, in between all the working, socialising, traveling and essential relaxation that professionals are expected to do, you might not have the time to get your finances in order.

Looking for a financial adviser/planner to keep your complex financial affairs in order can be a minefield, as there are many to choose from and you need to do your due diligence.

In the UAE and Dubai especially, some companies and individuals promote themselves as advisers, but they are actually just salespeople who lack the knowledge, experience and qualifications you need and should expect. They are usually more interested in the commission payments they receive for selling you the products of their affiliates than your financial well-being.

In your quest to find a good financial planner, you might also come across fiduciaries. These advisers will charge a set fee for their services, and their business depends on your success. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the two types apart, since they may market themselves in the same way, so make sure to ask questions.

The best financial advisers are working to ensure your best financial interests – not theirs are at heart. Their services should be clear and easy-to-understand with fully transparent fees. Ask lots of questions and trust your instincts – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Look for a financial adviser that is:

  • Transparent:

    There should be no hidden fees and they should be upfront and honest about costs from the very start

  • Qualified and regulated:

    This maybe goes without saying, but they should hold the necessary qualifications by the appropriate professional organisations

  • A good listener:

    They need to understand you. Your motivations and objectives. To be best able to guide you in the right direction

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What is Financial Planning?

As wealth accumulates, our need for a more structured approach to our money increases.

We need to be able to adapt to the opportunities and challenges that life throws at us, while continuing to provide for our ourselves and our families. Working with a financial planner in Dubai can help you to make the most out of every penny.

Financial planning is more than just investments. Rather, it’s about the big picture, bringing together all aspects of personal finance to achieve your financial goals. Financial planning is the process of setting, planning, achieving and reviewing your life goals through the proper management of your finances. A holistic financial plan not only involves investing money and building your wealth; but also understanding potential tax obligations, everyday spending, planning life events such as your children’s education and saving for your retirement, as well as protection for you and your family – including estate arrangement. All these facets of your financial plan are interconnected.

Cash flow forecasting should always form a key part of your unique plan and the financial planning process. Cash flow management is the process of determining your sources of income, your level of expenses and allocating your surplus towards achieving your short, medium and long-term goals. Cash flow planning further allows you to reflect on your current financial position, relative to your preferred position and your personal aspirations. This is then projected forward, year by year, using certain assumptions for growth, income/withdrawals, inflation, and interest rates.

Cash flow forecasting works on estimates and assumptions, since nobody knows what will happen in the future, but it provides a robust illustration of possible and probable outcomes. It is arguably the most important part of financial planning, and in particular retirement planning. It helps you to see exactly what capital you’ll have to work with, so you can make informed decisions both now and in the future. Ultimately helping to identify, achieve and maintain the lifestyle you want without ever running out of money

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Do You Need Financial Advice in Dubai?

If you are a senior professional who has relocated to Dubai or the UAE and have investable assets in excess of £250,000 or more, it is likely that your financial situation will be more complex as an expat.

A financial adviser will help you to navigate a sensible money plan. A solid route to success helps you to understand exactly what it is that you want from your money. What is your over-ridding financial objective? It then gives you the tools you need to get there.

Financial planning can help you to:

  • Manage your income:

    Having a thorough understanding of your income and outgoings each month, allows you to live in a way that is comfortable, while saving, investing and enjoying your life!

  • Forecast your cash flow:

    Looking to the future is a great way to ensure you can enjoy the fruits of your labour for even longer.

  • Select appropriate means of growth:

    Putting in place a robust investment engine for the realisation of your financial goals – where a range of investment experiences can be matched with your capacity for investment risk

  • Secure your family’s future:

    Knowing that your family is set-up for the future is an incredibly reassuring feeling. As well as saving for your children’s education, you may need to think about life and critical illness insurances. A good plan will include your estate in the case of your death, so your family aren’t hit with unexpected taxes. Depending on your requirements a financial adviser can guide you on the right path.

  • Enjoy your life right now:

    With savings in place and a good plan for the future, you have the peace of mind you need to enjoy life right now!

  • Understand your money:

    Working with a knowledgeable financial adviser will boost your own understanding of wealth management and investing. And the unique opportunities that present themselves to expats in Dubai.

  • Get into sensible saving habits:

    Expecting the unexpected is a valuable skill and a proper savings plan means that no sudden financial emergency is likely to be a long-term problem.

  • Be money-smart on an ongoing basis:

    Having a financial adviser to hand at all times, ensures you are always looking after your money, so that you can live a comfortable and secure life. Financial planning is an ongoing investment and new plans need to be made in order to account for changes in your needs.

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International Investment Made Easy

Many financial advisers follow something called the ‘ABC rule’.

In its simplest form, this relates to the way you use your money in an international context. ‘A’ is the country you are from. ‘B’ is the country you live in, and ‘C’ is the country you are banking in. Banking offshore, particularly when living in the Dubai or the UAE, ensures your wealth is safe. It allows you to maximise your financial opportunities. A financial adviser can help you find a well-regulated offshore jurisdiction to house your capital.

Planning Your Taxes and Trusts in Dubai

Even though professionals living in Dubai benefit from a unique, zero income tax position. Your plan for taxes is just as important as wealth accumulation.

There is a likelihood that your tax burden may change when you repatriate, or depending on your domicile and as your wealth grows. A financial planner can help you to forecast what future tax implications there could be and provide advice on how best to position yourself to minimise these.

The more you earn, the more complicated your tax burden may be, and many senior professionals end up paying a lot more tax than necessary, just because they do not understand their position fully. Taxes can become more complicated when you are living cross -boarder. A good plan ensures that taxes are mitigated as much as possible.

A financial adviser will also take a look at any assets you may have in your home country, or other jurisdictions. Planning for taxes on your entire international portfolio. You may not have considered things such as inheritance tax, capital gains, future income taxes, or lifetime allowance taxes on your pension, for example.

It can sound overwhelming, but it is a financial planners’ role to help you pay as little tax as possible, so that you can enjoy your hard-earned money. One possible way to do that, is to place some of your wealth into suitable trust structures. And with so many different types of trusts to choose from, it is essential you have a financial planner who understands the merits and potential drawbacks of all the options.

Pension Transfers in Dubai

Pension transfers are never straightforward and if you are thinking about transferring your pension, you will need to take regulated advice, particularly if your pension assets are worth more than £30,000.

Your pension provider is required by law to make sure that you have sought advice from an adviser and firm that has specific permission to do so. They will have had to have undertaken specific training and hold a pension transfer specialist qualification.

With over 4,000 financial advisers in Dubai, it is very important that you check that your chosen one has the required qualifications and permissions to advise you on your pension transfer. If you are an expat based in Dubai or the UAE and you are considering transferring out of your defined contribution or your final salary scheme, you should take regulated advice and remember that it is not always in your best interests to transfer your pension. While contacting a pension transfer specialist might be a legal requirement, it could also be a very useful time to ask questions and find out more. Your suitability to transfer your pension will be based on your own unique set of personal circumstances and your financial objectives for retirement.

There are situations where it can make financial sense to transfer your pension to a new or different scheme – here are a few possible examples:

  • Where succession planning is a key objective
  • Your existing company scheme is being wound up
  • You feel that flexibly accessing benefits would be more beneficial to you than a guaranteed income for life.
  • You are worried your scheme will fall into the PPF and you are at risk of receiving a lower annual income in retirement
  • You have a personal pension that has high fees
  • You are at risk of exceeding the Lifetime Allowance
  • You have been offered an enhanced transfer value
  • If considering transferring away from a final salary scheme you are confident your income needs can be met via other sources
  • Leaving residual funds to your spouse or chosen beneficiary is important to you.
  • You are a deferred member of a final salary scheme and reductions are being made to future benefits or an increase in your normal retirement date

Investment Portfolio Review Dubai

If you are already invested, then as a minimum you should receive a yearly review to ensure you understand your current financial picture.

Think of an investment portfolio review as an MOT of your finances. It is a good idea to regularly review your investments, to ensure they are still working for you and you are on track to meet your goals. If you have received advice elsewhere and would like a second opinion I would be happy to help. If we don’t think we can improve your position, be it by improving returns, mitigating risk, or reducing fess, we will tell you. It is always in a fiduciaries interest for you to do well and so we will always be truthful about the value we can expect to add to your finances.

Relocating to Dubai

Dubai provides quite a draw to international investors looking to enjoy a little of that wealth for themselves.

With beautiful sandy beaches, incredibly warm temperatures and a fast-paced, exciting lifestyle on offer, it is no wonder so many people across the world are considering emigrating to this golden paradise. Of course, it is not as simple as purchasing a one-way flight ticket. There is a lot to consider, and planning needs to start as far in advance as possible. There is no need to wait until you touch down in Dubai. You can seek the help of an experienced offshore financial planner in advance.

Repatriation from Dubai

If you decide the lifestyle of Dubai is not for you, or you have another reason why you need to move back home, it is important to ensure all your financial issues are neatly tied up in this country and where you are moving to.

Depending on the size of your portfolio, this can be a complex job. Repatriation is time-consuming in itself. As you consider moving your belongings and family back home and look into how your life will form when you get there. That is why a financial planner in Dubai can provide an essential service to ensure nothing is forgotten in the chaos of relocating. Helping to manage your finances seamlessly and in a tax efficient manner, ready for your move.

Putting a Plan into Action

Once you have found a financial planner you can trust and importantly like!

There are a few more things you need to do to ensure you have a successful plan that works for you:

  • Think about your lifelong goals:

    Once your short, medium and long-terms goals are in place, your plan can be personalised to help you reach them all.

  • Make a list of your financial obligations:

    Have all your assets and liabilities written down so that nothing is forgotten. It is then possible to create an efficient cash flow model, that can be adjusted as circumstances change.

  • Look at where you are now:

    How far are you from where you want to be? Are you concerned about any financial issues and what is going well for you? Once you have a clear idea of your overriding financial objective a plan can be put in place to best maximise your wealth.

  • It all starts with a plan:

    With all the information to hand, a roadmap for your goals will be created.

  • Get to work:

    With everything discussed and agreed, it is time to put your plan into action and watch your financial future improve.

  • Keep in touch:

    Regular reviews are imperative to discuss any changes to your circumstances and adjust your plan as necessary.

Start a financial plan today

What’s the value of financial advice?

A good financial planner in Dubai will evaluate your portfolio of investments, meet with you to discuss objectives, and help get you through tough markets.

All of these factors together add value to your net returns. The right advice can deliver more than just a better investment outcome. Think peace of mind heading into retirement, lower stress in a relationship and possibly even higher levels of happiness. research by Vanguard titled Adviser’s Alpha that independently researched the impact of advice estimated the value about 3% in improved net return.

The role an adviser plays also includes suitable low cost asset allocation, regular rebalancing where required, and behavioural coaching. Making sure you stick to the plan. This is most important during market turbulence, when you may feel the need to abandon your asset allocation and move to cash, for example.

How Much Does Financial Advice Cost in Dubai?

The fees involved for financial planning differ between firms.

It is important to note that if there is no fee involved at all, then you are probably working with a salesperson who will be taking a large, hidden commission for their work at every opportunity. You may be charged hidden commissions and suffer losses on your potential investments.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Look for a company who charges transparent fees, with all the associated costs indicated up-front. Look for a financial adviser who is a fiduciary.

Choose Fee-Only Financial Advice

Most clients and investors give little thought to the hidden costs that they may pay from the advice and products an adviser promotes. The fees of commission-based advisers are almost always tied to specific products or services.

The model misses so much of what clients actually need. The primary benefit of fee-based advice is that it will always be objective. There is little risk of a conflict of interest. Fee based advisers practice with a much greater degree of objectivity and independence. The fee only structure ensures that at all times client’s best interests are at heart. Allowing you access to professional expertise while taking comfort in the objective and independent advice provided.

When we think of investing we tend to think of growth, and the money we could be making. But often cost is over looked. Just like the effect compound interest can have on your money, so too can costs and charges. Compounding interest will see your capital rapidly grow, however compounding charges year after year will have a negative effect. That’s why it’s important to keep your costs as low as possible.
​Today, clients expect much more clarity and transparency from their financial adviser, the advice they are given and the products and services available to them. More so now than ever clients expect a transparent and holistic approach when it comes to the management of their money.

Where to Find Your Financial Adviser

When searching for a financial adviser, make sure you choose someone who is a fiduciary.

Regulated by all of the appropriate bodies in the country you reside and suitably qualified. This will ensure you get trusted, tailored advice.

It sounds obvious but it is surprising how many people forget to check these things.

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Jessica Cook
Private Client Adviser LLB (Hons) DipFA ASCI

About Jessica Cook

In today’s market conditions, with increasing taxation pressures and geopolitical shifts, the requirements to ensure your wealth is perfectly positioned, organised efficiently and future-proofed is essential.

Following a forensic review of all aspects of my clients’ wealth, health, and family needs, I am able to work with them to construct the most robust, transparent, and healthy balance sheet. Often maximising areas many would not have thought possible, due to my international “non resident” experience.

Featuring in the 2020 Times Newspaper Guide to the UK’s Top Rated Financial Advisers. My background is law, and a former career with the Financial Times. I am also a regular financial columnist for multiple publications.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Defined Benefit/Final Salary Pension Transfers

  • Maximizing pension lifetime allowance (LTA)

  • Portfolio Management Portfolio reviews/Rebalancing

  • Reducing ongoing charges

  • Pension transfers and pensions planning/ SIPPs and QROPS

  • Cash-flow forecasting

  • Estate and IHT planning

  • Life Insurance and protection

  • Lifetime holistic financial planning

The Benefits of Working with Jessica Cook

Appreciate the benefits that come from:

  • Taking control of your finances giving you the confidence and clarity you need to sleep at night

  • A greater understanding of investing, complex financial matters and financial planning

  • Better financial outputs and a reduction in costs

  • Excellent employee benefits, including the very best pensions and insurances available

  • Greater transparency of potential investments

  • Low cost investment solutions/ Evidence based investing

  • A trusted source of advice to ensure you understand all of your options
  • Reduced taxes / tax mitigation strategies

What to Look for in your Financial Planner

  • Choose an independent financial adviser who won’t try and sell you products from their affiliated companies

  • Check out recommendations and testimonials from past clients

  • Make sure your financial planner is regulated and has any other essential qualifications

  • Make sure you have a fiduciary financial adviser. This means they are a trusted adviser with your best financial interests at heart. They will charge a standard fee and won’t be looking to make commission on your investments

  • Make sure they respond to phone calls and emails in a reasonable timeframe to ensure the lines of communication are always open

  • Check to see what additional services they offer – private banking and retirement services are an essential addition to your financial planning

  • Ensure you know what fees you will be paying up front

  • Make sure you get a good first impression from your adviser. You want to feel as though you can trust that person and have a good relationship

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