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Wealthy women in the GCC.

Summary: GCC women's wealth is estimated at $224 billion. This means that one fifth of High Net Worth wealth in the GCC is managed by women yet most investment opportunities are designed for men. Is this an untapped opportunity for the region's wealth managers and private banks?

The Kuwait Financial Centre, known as Markaz, recently published a report titled, When GCC Women Invest: An Underserviced Market.

Based on the report's proprietary calculations, which take into account the region's inheritance laws, the GCC women's high net worth market is currently worth about $224 billion and accounts for 20.2 per cent of the total wealth; that's more than Japan, where women control 14 per cent of the wealth.

In addition, Markaz expects GCC women's contribution to wealth to grow by 15 per cent during the next 10 years due to several factors including the increasing labour participation of women as well as participation in business and the increasing capital spending in GCC countries. Yet still, most investment products and opportunities are designed for male investors.


According to the report, by 2020 women of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are expected to see the largest growth in wealth, which is anticipated to be 27.3 per cent and 23.3 per cent respectively. Kuwait and Qatar have the highest female labour participation rate among GCC nationals, this coupled with a relatively liberal stance on women empowerment (nationals) is expected to contribute to a sustainable growth rate in women wealth. That been said, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will take the lead in wealth creation of $10.5 billion and $15.79 billion respectively by 2020.

The report explains that low female participation rate in the first oil boom riches in GCC countries during the 1970s was due to the men generating wealth, while women managed the household. Therefore, investment products were restricted to men who, based on the research findings of several polls, tend to be more likely to take risk; have higher stock turnover velocity, and have more conviction in their decisions (even though this conviction may often be prove groundless).

However, the societal picture during the new millennium has become more colourful as social dynamics evolve and more women enter the workforce. As GCC women became empowered and family dynamics changed, the idea of managing the legacy based on age and gender began to decline in popularity, which has ushered in a new client base for money managers - GCC women investors.


Referring to global polls, the report highlights the high dissatisfaction level among women with various financial services, noting that 62 to 73 per cent are dissatisfied on the quality of service and the products offered to them. The issue is rampant in financial advice segment and insurance segment.

The report also captures the differences between genders when it comes to investment styles in GCC countries. Although actual investment style might differ based on education level, marital status and age, women in general tend to be more risk averse when it comes to investments, while men seek higher returns and assume higher risks.


Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) holds total assets under management of over KD 903 million as of 31 March 2012. Markaz was listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) in 1997.



Men 883.42, 80%

Women 223.95, 20%

Source: Markaz Research

2013 CPI Financial. All rights reserved. 2011 CPI Financial. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 5, 2013
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