The Middle East and Africa's growing institutional wealth and the increased globalization of the institutional investment industry are major factors behind eVestment's decision to open its newest office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Officially opened this week, this is the company's first office in the Middle East.
The office is located in Building 01 in Dubai Internet City and will serve as eVestment's base of operations for the company's continued growth in the Middle East and Africa.
Since Q1 2009, investable institutional assets domiciled in the Middle East and Africa have grown more than 180%, from $196.8 billion U.S. to $560 billion U.S. as of Q2 2014, according to eVestment figures. Sovereign wealth funds have also grown dramatically, and the wealth of the Middle East's high net worth individuals has increased from $1.4 trillion US in 2009 to $2.11 trillion US in 2013, according to the Capgemini/RBC Wealth Management Wealth Report. At the same time, global institutional investor interest in mature, emerging and frontier Middle East and Africa markets has grown as investors look to increase portfolio diversity and returns.
While Dubai and the Middle East are not yet major centers for hedge funds and other alternative investments, Dubai recently eased restrictions on asset managers operating in the Dubai International Financial Center, the country's financial enterprise zone. This is seen by some experts as a bid to attract more hedge, private equity and other alternative funds to the area.
"Technology has created opportunities like never before for institutional investors, investment consultants and managers around the globe to connect and make smart investment decisions," said eVestment co-founder and CEO Jim Minnick. "The rise in investable assets in the Middle East and Africa region and the increased interest in the region among global investors makes this the perfect time for eVestment to open this office to help forge those connections."
For managers based in Middle East and Africa, eVestment offers a free way - by providing data to eVestment's database - to gain global visibility, which can lead to increased exposure among global investors and consultants. eVestment also offers a comprehensive and powerful suite of solutions for assessing managers' performance against peers, understanding investor interests and needs, and marketing funds and products.
For investors both in and outside the region, eVestment offers a wide variety of tools for evaluating managers in the Middle East and Africa and around the globe, the ability to screen managers and products by adherence to Islamic values and other criteria, and market intelligence on traditional and alternative investment performance, asset flows and trends.
Wissem Souissi will lead the office as eVestment's vice president Middle East and Africa region. He brings to eVestment a 12-year track record in financial and investment sales and business development in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Prior to joining eVestment, Souissi served as Sales Manager for the Middle East and the Russian Commonwealth with eFront, a leader in private equity, real estate and alternative investment management solutions. He also has worked with Moody's Analytics in Southern and Eastern Europe and Africa.
"This is an important step and very exciting time for eVestment's worldwide growth," said Souissi. "We have been covering this region from our London office, but the time is right to establish a local presence that will allow us to be closer to clients and to this growing investment market. The flourishing South African financial market, the upgrade by MSCI of UAE and Qatar indexes to Emerging Markets and Saudi Arabia's plans to open its stock market to foreign investors will make eVestment's services even more valuable to investors, consultants and managers working in the region or those from around the world interested in the region."