In an interesting move towards including digital assets into the wealth management value chain, DIFC Innovation Hub, global Swiss wealth management Julius Baer and Euroclear a financial infrastructure market firm, have come together to explore how family offices and HNWI ( High Net Worth Individuals) can best use technology to expand their digital asset portfolios as well as apply multi generation inheritance.

As per a press release, DIFC’s Innovation Hub experts will work closely with Julius Baer’s global innovation team and Euroclear’s innovation Centre of excellence for a three-month sprint that will result in a white paper detailing a future-oriented solution for succession planning relating tokenization applied to multi-generational inheritance. The analysis and subsequent findings will serve as a blueprint for other geographies looking to turn similar challenges into opportunities. 

It is estimated that AED 3.67trn (USD 1trn) in assets will be transferred to the next generation in the Middle East over the coming decade. However, only 24 per cent of High-Net-Worth Individuals have a full estate plan in place. Fast adoption of various digital asset classes by individuals and businesses also poses potential complexities to a seamless execution of estate plans currently in place. The DIFC Innovation Hub, Julius Baer and Euroclear collaboration will help bring tangible solutions to this global challenge.

Mohammad Alblooshi, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Innovation Hub, commented, “The region is witnessing a trend of generational wealth being deployed across a variety of digital asset classes to diversify and future-proof their portfolios. By bringing together global leading entities across wealth management, financial services providers, tech disruptors and regulators, this newly launched innovation project will help transform one of the largest, underserved markets in the region and open doors to a more inclusive and tech enabled future for family businesses and the wealth management industry.”

Alireza Valizadeh, CEO, Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd, added, “Generational wealth transfer is gaining momentum in the UAE, and we, as Julius Baer, are in a unique position to advise our clients having had our origins as a family business. On the occasion of Julius Baer’s 20-year anniversary in Dubai, I am hoping that this innovation project will showcase how we can work together to stay relevant to our future clients and provide a vision highlighting the evolution of the private banking industry especially with the onset of digital assets.”

Philippe Laurensy, Head of Group Strategy, Product Management and Innovation at Euroclear, noted, “As a trusted financial market infrastructure we have a strong commitment to collaborate with the market providing innovative solutions to our clients. We are extremely pleased to be working with DIFC Innovation Hub and Julius Baer on what we see as a transformative journey to address market gaps and create efficiencies by harnessing the power of tokenization. By validating and unlocking the benefits of smart contracts we have the potential to redefine the narrative of wealth management, creating solutions that could span generations.”

The DIFC Innovation Hub has been attracting as well more and more Blockchain, digital assets, Web3 companies from around the globe and locally.

In KPMG and Agreus’s  2023 Global Fmaily Office Compensation Benchmark Report which found that financial wealth, generated by ultra-high-net-worth individuals and family offices is forecasted to increase to 46% by 2026 and that Crypto, a growing area of interest in the UAE, could play a small role in global family office portfolios as CEOs and MDs explore it and fall into the category of fun.

As per KPMG Agreus report, “ Diversifying does not always mean investing heavily in the likes of cryptocurrency but rather, decentralizing risk by spreading investments across multiple areas with precedents of high return. Crypto like many ‘new’ asset classes may well continue to play a very small role in Family Office portfolios but it is envisioned this shall fall into the category of fun, a small percentage for Principals to play with either for passion or simple curiosity.”

KPMG report believes that while the coming years could see the introduction of yet another new and exciting asset class, many Family Offices will look to diversify away from risky areas and invest in traditional, safe arenas where track records have already been achieved.

With the UAE’s rise in the establishment of new family offices, wealthy families from around the world have recognized the country’s appeal as a destination for their offices stemming from its combination of tax advantages, strategic location, robust financial services sector, and high-quality lifestyle amenities.

The report surveyed the views of family office chief executive officers, managing directors and staff to analyze succession planning, social mobility, and governance structures. It found that global family offices plan to diversify away from risky areas and invest in traditional, safe arenas where track records have already been achieved. This includes decentralizing risk by spreading investments across multiple areas with high return.

Among those areas of high return was crypto. In the report KPMG noted that crypto, a burgeoning area of interest in the UAE, could play a small role in global family office portfolios as CEOs and MDs explore it.

The report found that family office leaders in the region are aggressively pursuing strategies to grow their wealth and reputation.  Family-owned businesses play a vital role in the economy, contributing over 60% of the GDP in many regions. In 2021, financial wealth in the UAE grew by 20%; approximately 41% was generated by ultra-high-networth individuals and family offices, forecast to increase to 46% by 2026. It is estimated that the UAE’s financial wealth will continue to grow at a compounded annual rate of 6.7% and reach USD 1 trillion by 2026.

Raajeev B Batra Partner and Head of Private Enterprise at KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “Middle East family offices are approaching 2023 with an educated outlook. Previously many family offices focused heavily on investments and less on having a robust sophisticated operational infrastructure, but this trend has changed. The regulatory framework in the UAE more specifically has been a significant driver in attracting family offices to set up in the country.”

Tayyab Mohamed, Co-Founder of Agreus, said: “The contribution of family-owned businesses in the region cannot be stressed enough. They continue to remain a crucial part of the economy, with the UAE and KSA rapidly rising within this space. With the recent initiative by the DIFC to create the Global Family Business and Private Wealth Centre, we believe the Middle East is very competitively placed to be a hub for family offices in the future.”

If you are a GCC or MENA based family office that has a portfolio that includes precious metals such as gold, silver or others, or you intend to in the near future, but are hesitant because in the past you were unable to make revenues from the purchase, you now can. With the advent of blockchain, Web3 technologies and tokenization a sweet spot is upon us. 

Precious metal owners can generate earnings on their gold and make it work for them just by holding it in tokenized form. Aurus Technologies, headquartered in the UAE with offices in the UK is offering family offices the opportunity to tokenize real world assets through its sustainable tokenization as a service solution (TAAS) platform.

The GCC and MENA region has all the ingredients to make gold work for family offices. First the region itself is a hot bed for investors, secondly precious metals especially gold are well revered and invested in and third Web3 technologies including tokenization on the blockchain is revolutionizing the precious metal industry in the region.

Family offices can make their tokenized gold work for them throughout the lifetime of their ownership.

According to Mark Gesterkamp, Chief Business Development Officer, Aurus Technologies, “By minting a digital representation of vaulted bullion in the form of tGOLD, tSILVER and tPLATINUM, precious metals can now be utilized and earn transactional revenue in the digital economy.”

The company does not sell gold, but utilizes software to make gold work for its owners by allowing these tokenized real assets to be transacted and traded. Mark explains, “Part of the transaction fees flow back to the bullion owners and providers.”


The Growth of Investors in GCC and MENA

Recent research has shown that there are nearly 6,000 UHNW (ultra-high net worth) individuals in the Middle East with a combined net worth of US $995 billion. The number of UHNW individuals in the region is expected to increase by 24.6% in the next 5 years while the region is also expected to remain the fourth largest wealth hub in the world.

In addition the UAE is increasingly becoming a hub for family offices, with some of the world’s big names setting up offices in the country to tap the market. The same can be witnessed in KSA, Qatar, and elsewhere.

As such the region is ripe with not only a growing number of family offices but wealth that can be deployed intelligently.

Growth of interest in Digital assets

HNWI individuals and family offices are increasing their exposure to alternative assets in the form of digital assets and the MENA region is no exception. The Ocorian report found that 90% of those surveyed said their clients are looking to include crypto and digital assets in their investment strategies.

The report noted that family offices run by younger tech savvy generations want to make a move into investing in crypto and digital assets yet remain concerned about the challenges and risks.

This is more reflective in the MENA region. The Lombard Odier report found that 79% of younger Middle East investors believe there are significant opportunities in the digital and tech sectors.

Mark believes that Aurus’s blockchain tokenization offering provides tech savvy young investors with a valuable investment opportunity, easing their concerns, by offering digital assets backed by gold, silver or other precious metals. He states “Gold is understood by all, and now the new generation can put it to work sustainably and with less risk than crypto.”


Bullish on Gold regardless of market trends

As economic difficulties prevail globally, with worries of inflation, recession, and banking failures, precious metals are set to shine.

Tresor Gold research stated that VC firms and family offices will increase gold allocations in next 18 months. The study covered investors in in Canada, Australia, the US, UK, UAE, France, Germany, Switzerland, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Yet regardless of whether precious metals are seen as bullish or not, just by tokenizing gold and making it work for owners, price fluctuations are no longer relevant.  

Mark explains, “Regardless of whether gold is bullish or not, owners who have tokenized their gold will continue to make money because of the transactions. AurusX our native token for example is like a hedge for precious metals. Holders of AurusX or their own tokenized gold can earn yields in any market condition because they earn for each transaction carried out.”

Gold Investment challenges overcome with Tokenization 

Tokenizing precious metals and gold on the blockchain relieves investors from the challenges faced from utilizing traditional gold investment vehicles.  

When investing in physical gold there are always extra costs for securing, insuring and storing the gold and in return liquidating the physical gold or earning yields is also difficult.

Even with Gold index funds, or ETFs (Exchange traded funds) while investors do receive passive earnings long term, these investors do not own the gold.

Investing directly in gold via gold shares (mine shares) of gold mine operators is risky as well, as it is dependent on the performance of the mining operator and the stock exchange.

With Aurus, there is a one to one backing of the underlying bullion generating yields, making most of the challenges a thing of the past. Mark confirms, “Aurus is setting the standard in precious metals tokenization adhering to the decentralized nature of the blockchain. We work with multiple storage locations around the globe including reputable partners such as Spanish refinery Sempsa JP and vaulting facilitator Brinks.”

The Aurus Opportunity a solution for all

Since 2018 Aurus has been a strong proponent of opening the precious metals market to everyone with a smartphone using the Aurus application.

The company is leveraging metal-backed blockchain technology to help gold, silver, and platinum businesses democratize these assets via the digital economy while earning passive rewards in the digital assets & DeFi space.

By modernizing the precious metals market with Web3 technologies, it is increasing access, usability & trust, ultimately unlocking global demand.

Mark concludes, “The total size of tokenized illiquid assets, including real estate and natural resources could reach $16.1 trillion by 2030. As such we are playing our part by offering an open ended solution that allows any party to bring gold to Web3 under the standards of both the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Center). ” The bigger the Aurus system grows the more precious metals will be paid out to AX holders.”

For the first time in the region, Aurus will be offering gold tokenization solutions to family offices allowing them to put their gold to work and generate yields. Mark adds, “We welcome partners in the UAE and GCC to showcase our ecosystem and work together to tokenize part of their portfolio by taking either a direct position in Aurus TGold and TSilver or tokenizing their own gold or even investing in AurusX tokens.” Aurus is currently seeking to raise $500,000 from the sale of its AurusX Tokens.

Aurus is working with greener future in mind, by reducing CO2 emission. It is collaborating with green initiatives globally. Mark states, “Blockchain allows for easier and transparent collaboration with ESG initiatives and we will continuously seek partnerships in positioning precious metals towards a greener investing alternative. We aim to ensure everyone can buy precious metals on the blockchain in a more sustainable manner.”

For more info check out the Aurus video here:

Alea Global Group will be holding their edition of Alea Sessions in Riyadh KSA. The one day gathering under the theme ‘The New Opportunities in Investment in the New Saudi Arabia’ will gather 100 of the GCC and MENA region’s top family offices. The event will include a session on Blockchain in Trade Finance.

Alea Global Group is a conglomerate single family business formed in 1998 in the State of Kuwait owned by a member of Al Duaij family. The one day event will discuss private debts and CLOs, trade finance, mezzanine debt, open banking, micro and macro banking environments, and Saudi Arabia’s unicorns.

The Alea Sessions is a series of irregular but responsive events held by Alea Group Group which are held when there is a need to address important topics that need to be addressed and which our followers would like to talk about. These events are usually shorter than their Family Office Summits, with a more focused programme. They may occur anywhere in the world, and also online.

Some of the highlighted speakers will include Essam Albakr Founder & CEO, Ejada Capital, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mark Mobius, Founding Partner, Mobius Capital Partners, Mirna Sleiman Founder & CEO, Fintech Galaxy, UAE, Omar AlShabaan Co-Founder & CEO, The Space, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Talal AlBakr Entrepreneur, CEO of SCCC, co-founded Embark Ventures, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz M. Alfakhri Board Director, CFO, CIO, Investments & Finance Executive, Angel Investor, Advisor, Mentor & Public Speaker, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ajay Sunkara President & Co-Founder, Nala Robotics, USA , Ashar Nazim CEO, Aion Digital, Kingdom of Bahrain as well as Rabih I. Khoury Managing Partner & Chief Exit Officer Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and many others.

One of the sessions at the event will discuss the topic of how blockchain will shape trade finance. It will discuss how to overcome obstacles and find a competitive advantage in trade finance. Panelists will include Zineb Tamtaoui, Senior Executive Officer, Head Of Middle East Region, Chez BMCE BANK International Plc, and UAE Kevin Ramsamy, CFO, Barak Fund Management, Mauritius.

This is an interesting topic to be discussed at a family office event but not surprising given the latest stance taken by Saudi Arabian Finance Minister, Mohamed Al Jadaan in a TV interview with Bloomberg during the WEF 2023.

As per the interview Saudi Arabia is open to discussions about trade in currencies other than the US dollar. He states, “There are no issues with discussing how we settle our trade arrangements, whether it is in the US dollar, whether it is the euro, whether it is the Saudi riyal.”

“I don’t think we are waving away or ruling out any discussion that will help improve the trade around the world,” Al-Jadaan said.

Blockchain could just be one of the ways KSA is looking to improve trade around the world.

In November 2022, Saudi Arabian, Saudi British Bank (SABB) utilized the Contour Blockchain platform to enhance trade finance by improving letter of credit and guarantee procedures for enterprises and international businesses. SABB worked with local fintech entity Bwatech.

In addition Saudi Arabian Taajeer Group, the exclusive agent for MG cars in the KSA utilized the Blockchain enabled Contour platform in its importing of cars from China. HSBC, Chinese SAIC Motor, and KSA Taajeer group executed a successful blockchain enabled trade finance transaction on the Contour platform.

Could this be the culmination of Saudi government strategy, and some blockchain success stories. Jut follow the money and all will be revealed.