Vipul Kapur, Head of Private Banking at Mashreq Image Credit: Supplied

For the more innovative private banks, why does the pandemic represent a historic opportunity in terms of digital wealth management?

As the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise globally, the impact on financial markets and our clients has been significant. Despite this, a silver lining has become increasingly clear.

The obvious and well-documented one is the shift to digital wealth management. The crisis accelerated the use of digital technology to help advisers reduce the time spent on administration and improve personal communication with clients. As the industry continues along its transformative digitalisation journey, understanding where and how the big changes are happening, and responding with agility, will become increasingly important for success.

What are you seeing in terms of digital engagement from wealth clients at Mashreq?

We have noticed an uptake on the use of digital channels from clients, both local and international. Covid-19 has unintentionally migrated clients to using digital platforms for their own safety, and in return our digital usage has gone up and clients have realised using digital channels to execute transactions, open new accounts, and take products isn’t as difficult as they would have assumed in the past.

How are Mashreq’s investments in its digital platforms paying dividends now with regards to client interactions?

Mashreq embarked on a digital transformation journey way back in 2018 and our front-end client management team, which includes relationship managers, investment and insurance specialists, and client service team are better equipped with the new work from home environment. We built firewalls to ensure a safe digital experience for our clients. We use an agile approach across our support teams, which enabled us to be ready to deliver exceptional service to our clients even during these extraordinary times.

How has the pandemic changed the way you engage with your clients these days?

While Mashreq has always been one of the leading pioneers in the digital banking space within the UAE and the region, the pandemic has helped us further accelerate our digital agenda. We have been engaging with our clients through our digital channels, be it for products, meetings or for regular communications.

What is your outlook for the wealth management sector in the UAE and beyond post the crisis?

The behaviour of wealth clients and the outlook towards wealth management has definitely shifted during the crisis. The pandemic has given investors, and high-net-worth individuals the opportunity to rethink how they want to position themselves for the future and manage their wealth in the long term. Yes, we all agree that it has been a difficult couple of months, but the outlook for the future beyond this crisis in the UAE looks promising in terms of the banking and wealth management sector.

The central bank has had a lot of involvement with banks in terms of guidance and in relief packages, as well to keep businesses and consumers afloat and this does reflect the long-term strategy that the UAE has in terms of positioning the country as one of the leading financial hubs in the world. Beyond the crisis, I expect some uncertainty to remain until economies can fully and sustainably reopen. We do expect investors to be neutral until then and focus on quality assets and diversified strategies.