Zurich and Mercer partner to launch workplace savings scheme in Middle East

31 May 2018 Consultancy-me.com

Insurance and investment firm Zurich has launched a workplace savings solution (MySavings) in the Middle East in partnership with world’s largest investment consultancy Mercer. With more workers now demanding employer-facilitated saving, the partners will look to fill the current regional absence of this service.

Saving for the future can be a difficult task for many people, and wading into the mire of infinite investment services is a daunting proposition. Choosing between mutual fund offerings from banks or other financial institutions, investing in index funds, or managing your own portfolio – the options are endless, and in a world of increasing complexity and choice paralysis, it would be nice for things to be simpler.

A recent YouGov survey found that 78% of people think their employer should be doing more to help them prepare for their financial future. Flowing from that, employees are increasingly interested in their employers providing a cost-effective long-term savings plan as part of their total compensation package.

In the Middle East, there is currently a lack of employer-facilitated saving programs – clearly a service that many workers now desire. To fill this gap, insurance and investment firm Zurich has launched a workplace savings platform with HR and investment consulting firm Mercer. The platform, named ‘MySavings,’ will offer employees a range of investment solutions managed by Mercer – the largest investment consultancy in the world – with administration and record-keeping provided by Zurich. The scale and buying power of Mercer, which currently manages $227 billion in assets, ensures competitive pricing while streamlining the investment selection process.Zurich and Mercer partner to launch workplace savings solution in Middle EastThe MySavings solution will be highly customisable to varying needs and preferences of different employees. “Long-term savings decisions can be complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Mustafa Faizani, CEO of Mercer Middle East, India, Africa and Turkey. “For this reason, MySavings offers flexible and tailored investment options by segmenting employees based on their preferences.”

“Some employees prefer to have decisions made for them, some simply want assistance in allocating investments and others prefer to make investment choices on their own. MySavings’ investment solutions have been designed by Mercer based on our extensive manager research and asset allocation expertise to cater for diverse preferences.”

The institution of workplace savings-plans does more than just benefit the current employees of a company – it can also be a strong tool for talent attraction and retention. “In most developed economies, the facility to save through the workplace would be an accepted part of any employment package,” remarked Peter Cox, Head of International Pension Plans Sales for Zurich. “However, across the Middle East, this important benefit is missing.”

“For this reason, workers across the region have a real need for attractive workplace savings solutions, which could include the End of Service entitlement. Those employers who facilitate workplace savings will find that they become an employer of choice with significantly improved recruitment and retention results.”

Mercer has 22,000 employees based out of 44 countries. The consultancy has been in the Middle East for over ten years, with offices in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Zurich has more than 84,000 employees worldwide, and has been active in the Middle East for almost 30 years. It has offices in Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon and the UAE.

ACCA hosts conference on technology in the Middle East finance sector

29 March 2019 Consultancy-me.com

The ACCA has hosted a regional conference on technology and innovation in the Middle East finance sector, with the inaugural event featuring leaders from Grant Thornton, Accenture, and Deloitte among a range of speakers.

Following its recent women in finance forum in Dubai, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has hosted its inaugural Techovate Regional Conference, bringing together senior ACCA members and key stakeholders to discuss the impact of technology and innovation on the finance sector in the Middle East – with some of the region’s leading consultants among the speakers.

“In a bid to eradicate the myth and preconception of technology, we have been working on distilling the impact which technology will have for our members and wider commercial society, alongside aligning our approach to the regional innovation strategy which will see the UAE become the smartest in the world by 2030,” said ACCA Middle East director Lindsay Degouve de Nuncques.

Degouve de Nuncques’ opening address was followed by a keynote presentation from Accenture’s MENA digital lead Xavi Anglada (who also appeared at the recent World Mobile Conference as well as last year’s Artificial Intelligence Week in the Middle East) – who prior to joining Accenture served as the CEO of Cash Credit, a Delta Partners-backed fintech start-up providing micro-finance services.ACCA hosts conference on technology in the Middle East finance sectorOther speakers from the consulting realm included Deloitte Middle East senior Audit & Assurance partner Cynthia Corby (last year named by Forbes as one of the 100 most influential women in the Middle East), and Grant Thornton Transformation Advisory Partner George Stoyanov, who spoke on unlocking value through tech transformation and big data, AI and analytical benchmarking.

A near twenty-year consulting veteran in the region, with extensive experience in corporate governance, risk management and internal audit serving the financial services industry, Stoyanov prior to joining Grant Thornton in 2017 was a director in EY’s financial services advisory division out of Abu Dhabi, before which he served as a director with PwC’s Risk Assurance Services practice in Kuwait.

Attendees also heard from Joy Ajlouny, who together with BCG alumnus Idriss Al Rifai co-founded Fetchr, as well as Pierre Arman, Market Development Lead for Tax and Accounting with Thomson Reuters, Mansoor Sarwar, a director with enterprise software firm Sage, and Sayd Farook, a doctor in behavioural economics and adviser to the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“Great discussions on how technology and digital are disrupting the financial services industry at ACCA Techovate Conference in Dubai,” wrote Anglada in a follow-up post on LinkedIn. “From an inspiring and personal view from Joy Ajlouny throughout her entrepreneurship journey, to the visionary PoV on innovation from Sayd Farook, helping shape Dubai's future, to many other key leaders in the banking space.”