Growing Assets

GCC asset management industry poised for next level of sophistication

A diversified asset management industry has emerged in the GCC over the last decade, according to a study conducted by Markab Advisory and sponsored by Qatar Financial Centre Authority. The study, ‘Asset Management Industry in the GCC: Growth Dynamics and Contours of the Next Phase of Evolution’, says that despite its youth, and especially in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the industry has shown signs of maturity and consolidation. It has tremendous potential to graduate to the next level of sophistication. Private equity (PE), rather than mutual funds, will be the main arbiter of growth of the region’s asset management industry.

Key Findings:

  • Although the mutual funds industry has registered phenomenal growth during the last decade, future growth of mutual funds will be predicated on depth and diversity of the capital markets. Limiting factors, which include a restricted number of actively traded stocks, concentration of market values in a  few sectors and mutual fund investors’ home bias, might hinder growth in mutual funds’ market penetration, which stands at less than 3% of the aggregate market capitalization;
  • In the past ten years or so, a quiet revolution has taken place in the PE sector in the GCC. Standing at $15 billion, the industry is equal in size to the equity mutual funds industry (unlike developed countries where the PE industry is a fraction of the size of the mutual funds industry) and is positioned to become a dominant contributor to the growth of the asset management industry over the next 4-5 years;
  • Investor configuration is changing. International and regional institutional investors will be the main sources of capital for PE funds. Asian investors, particularly institutional investors from China, are more likely to consider PE investment platforms.  The GCC’s Sovereign Wealth Funds will continue to remain internationally focused, but can play a key role in niche sectors, such as infrastructure funds.  Family Groups and High Net Worth Individuals have been among the largest and most significant participants in the regional asset management industry.
  •  Growth capital, small and medium enterprises and infrastructure are the most attractive PE asset classes. Established players, especially those with successor funds, will continue to attract investors most;
  • Fixed income funds and Real Estate Investment Trusts are at very early stages of evolution and face specific challenges;
  • Islamic asset management is fast developing as a common thread among all asset classes. The GCC region is naturally positioned to take leadership in this space and become a global hub of Islamic asset management activities;
  • Regulators and policy makers in the region need to play a leading role in creating an enabling environment for the growth of the asset management industry. Critical areas of focus include reforming corporate and commercial laws, attracting foreign investors and fund managers, building asset management ecosystems, creating Shari’ah hubs, ensuring public sector commitment to indigenous asset management platforms, and building complementary propositions for the regional financial centers.

Yousuf Al Jaida, Director of Asset Management at QFC Authority, commented: “The GCC asset management industry,  plays a key role in a growing economy, helping companies to unlock value and serving as a catalyst for efficient capital allocation. It is also important for attracting foreign capital.  As this report shows, the prospects for the asset management industry in the GCC are very bright.”


Mohammad Athar, Managing Director of Markab Advisory, commented, “The building blocks for catapulting the GCC asset management industry into next phase of growth are in place. The dynamics of the industry in the region remain unique in terms of its potential sources of growth. There are strong indications of renewed activity in the private equity arena. Over the next 4-5 years, private equity is expected to be major arbiter of capital allocation in the region.”

About Markab Advisory

Markab Advisory is a management consulting firm, headquartered in Dubai. Markab provides consulting services across the GCC region. Markab brings a deep understanding of the GCC region. Its partners have spent over 25 years in this region, providing a range of consulting services to its clients. Markab assists its clients in building sustainable competitiveness by helping them gain better knowledge of their ecosystems and effectively deploy capital, knowhow, people and technology. Download full report at


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