With an increasing number of international businesses opening up in Dubai, bringing in more and more professionals, offshore banking services are experiencing high growth rates in the emirate.
What kind of expats will RBS target?
Taking our business model of offshore banking based out of Jersey, the first type is companies that are moving their staff to the region, especially middle to senior management staff.
The second group of customers is our RBS Group customers in the region. Because we were not here in the past a lot of them were dealing with other banks. But now many of them are coming back to our services.
Are you not targeting the local community as well?
RBS International looks after customers who require offshore banking from a bank that is part of the UK clearing system and we can offer these services to other customers.
Why did RBS choose Dubai as its regional base?
We were running our international personal banking business from Jersey, which has a multitude of customers spreading around the world and more and more of our existing customers and professionals are doing business out of the region, predominantly out of Dubai.
What are the financial services that RBS will be offering its clients?
First, we acquired the new licence for the representative office from the UAE Central Bank for personal banking services. RBS Coutts has been operating here for eight years. And with our growing connections with the oil and gas businesses, we also opened an office in Abu Dhabi.
Out of here, we will offer our customers the same banking services we offer in Jersey and the UK, especially multi-currency facilities because it is very important for our customers to hold money in different currencies and to easily and simply to move their money around the world. We offer these services online, which is very secure.
We can provide help on a wide range of short- and long-term savings opportunities, as well as advise on investment and treasury products. These are the type of products and services that so many people acquiring wealth need. We can assist with UK and overseas property purchases in places like Spain, as well as the essential and secure requirements such as internet banking, allowing online currency payments.
Many of our customers are coming to the region to enjoy the development process and also to acquire wealth, so we help people in the accumulation of wealth through other products such as a huge range of fixed deposits.
Do you offer financial services to the corporate sector?
RBS International provides products and services to companies who relocate staff. We have many years of experience in helping HR directors with relocations and will now be able to help these firms in the UAE. As a representative office in the UAE, all products will be offered out of Jersey, complete with all the benefits such a location provides.
Along with Jersey and now Dubai, RBS has a presence in Guernsey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Africa. RBS International also provides core and specialist banking services for commercial, corporate, high net worth expatriate and financial intermediary. RBS International strives to deliver innovative solutions and provide customer service, which is second to none to its customers throughout the world.
What is your outlook for RBS’s business in the UAE?
The business development in the UAE is very impressive. The opportunities here are growing and expanding very fast. I have been in touch with the British Business Group and I was very impressed with how active they are because of the growing opportunities.
Other business groups and the whole business community are experiencing this development. I have been talking with people from different levels, from senior management directors to HR staff, and they are all talking about growth and expansion. They are talking about hiring new staff and expanding their business.
Regarding the current case in the global economic sector, this trend is not there, it is happening here in the region, and this is the story of development in Dubai. This will reflect our plans for growth of our RBS Group business here.
There are a lot of middle to senior management professionals coming to the region and with high growth rates here, their financial situation will grow, and accordingly our business. While our RBS office is a start-up in this vibrant market, we plan for annual growth of 100 per cent for the first three years and then annual growth of 50 per cent for the following two years.
Do you have plans for expansion in the GCC and Asia?
Currently, RBS International has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and we are in the process of opening new offices in Bahrain and Qatar. The four offices will have global banking and marketing teams. We started our regional international personal banking base in Dubai because it catches the biggest customer base.
For personal banking services, traditionally we used to work from Jersey, the Isle of Man and Spain. However, with the increasing business in Asia during the past few years, we opened an office in Singapore and it is growing very fast.
There are reports RBS has suffered from the US sub-prime mortgage crisis. Your comment?
I am not eligible to talk about the exposure to the sub-prime crisis. However, RBS Group has achieved operating profits of £9.4 billion (Dh68.8bn) in 2007.
This was nine per cent year-on-year increase. RBS International is part of our RBS Group’s Wealth Management Division, which had an operating profit of £413 million in 2007, with 30 per cent increase compared to profits in 2006.
PROFILE: Julian Gouge, Head of RBS International Personal Banking, Middle, East & Asia
Julian Gouge is responsible for leading the group’s Middle East and Far East International Personal Banking businesses as well as ensuring that RBS continues to provide award-winning products and outstanding customer service in its offshore, personal banking offerings.
Gouge joined the Royal Bank of Scotland Group in 1988 and has a proven track record of growing businesses whilst ensuring the service exceeds customer’s expectations.
Today, he is responsible for bringing RBS International to the new office in Dubai and aims at offering value-added offshore banking services to expat customers based in the UAE.
RBS plans for 100 per cent growth in first three years