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Interview: Syeda Al Iqtadar, A Wealth Management Expert

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What is ‘Wealth Management’?

It is mostly about educating and inspiring people to protect their assets and invest in their future. It could be saving up for children, retirement, travel, or property investment. And essentially it’s about having a plan to ensure you get to your desired destination.

Why doesn’t everyone have a Wealth Manager?

Often people don’t want to hire a financial advisor as they instead prefer to ask opinions from their friends or search for answers on the internet. This can be very harmful in the long run, especially if people seek advice from people or entities who don’t have financial backgrounds.

The best thing that people can do for themselves is to diversify their assets-and, I believe, invest in properties.

What is Holborn Assets?

Holborn Assets is a global financial services group and a leading financial advisory firm established in Dubai for over 20 years and now operating throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our financial advisers are trained and qualified to United Kingdom standards with many holding qualifications from the UK’s Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) or Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI).

What are your areas of specialty?

Independent Financial Services, Financial Solutions, Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Shariah Wealth, Currency Exchange, Employee Benefits, Management Services, Insurance, Investments, Protection & Insurance, Pensions, Mortgages, Offshore Services, Tax Planning, Will Writing, Pension Transfers, and QROPS.

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What’s the biggest challenge of your job?

At the very beginning, getting people to open up about their finances as money is a very sensitive topic and people often shy away from such discussions. Therefore as a financial advisor I am an open book and very transparent with my clients.

Are your own personal finances in immaculate order?

(Smiles) I try for that to be the case.

How did you become a personal financial advisor?

I have a background of twenty years in corporate banking and finance. I made the switch to personal financial advising in 2008, in the midst of the banking crisis. I became tired and a little cynical of the corporate world and I wanted to feel I was doing something that was beneficial to changing people’s lives – not just putting more money into rich people’s bank accounts.


You work with many expats, what would you say are typically their biggest financial mistakes?

Not accumulating wealth while they are in the region. A lot of expats have trouble saving money. Should take advantage of the tax free salaries and control their costs of living to accumulate wealth but too many instead spend more than is advisable on ‘living the life’ and keeping up appearances. Far too many people in the GCC live beyond their means. As expats here typically have little to no job security they should have at least one year’s salary saved up so if they lose their jobs they are secure in the knowledge they will not go into debt (for at least a year).

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Briefly share with us just 2 or 3 pieces of financial wisdom

The best thing people can do is to diversify their assets and invest in property . For families the breadwinner should take life insurance to ensure his family are financially taken care of if anything happens to them. You would insure your car or your home so why not yourself?

Finally, what questions should anyone ask before choosing a financial advisor?

Check their financial qualifications and experience and don’t be afraid to ask for references.


Syeda Al Iqtadar
Senior Associate, Holborn


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