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.”