Navigating the Future of WealthTech in the Middle East

Published on November 23, 2023

We at additiv welcome Niraj Naetsawan as our new Country Head UAE. Join us in this insightful interview where we delve into Niraj’s perspectives on the ever-evolving WealthTech landscape. Uncover his insights into digital transformation, explore the unique offerings of additiv, and gain a glimpse into his vision for the future of wealth management services in the Middle East. Read how our new leader discusses his thoughts on navigating the dynamic intersection of finance and technology.

You’ve held senior positions in both tier 1 banks and big 4 consulting firms, tell us about your experience and your progression to join the additiv team?

I am proud of having worked in the industry and with the big 4 management consulting firms, advising and executing digital transformation programs over the last 18 years. The financial services industry in the Middle East region is currently going through disruptive changes fuelled by new regulations, establishment of new financial market infrastructures, rise of fintechs and large investments into digital banking propositions, all of which is driven by changing consumer demand – I’ve had the privilege to advice, both regional regulators and large financial institutions to execute their transformation programs and launch digital propositions in the region. My progression to additiv is extremely exciting. additiv is a true innovator in the financial service space, expanding business models with technology and expertise. It’s got great end to end WealthTech solutions and capabilities to embed financial services at various consumer journeys – it brings new innovative ways for banks, insurance firms, telcos, and various retailers to engage with their customers.

I see big opportunities and taking on my next challenge at additiv is truly exciting. My mandate in the new role at additiv is to drive our solution offering in the Middle East, build new client relationships and scale our multi-talented teams.

Given your experience, what appealed to you most about joining additiv?

There are many great things about additiv but what appealed to me the most is the work culture and the opportunity to work with a highly talented team of banking domain experts and technologist. The work environment is highly collaborative, support is amazing, decisions are quick. Working with top talent, taking a worldclass platform to market and being at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation in the Middle East is truly exciting.

What will be your focus at additiv and what do you bring to the role?

My focus at addtiv is to scale our presence in the Middle East. What this means is to drive strategic conversations with our key accounts and help them launch digital enabled value propositions, introduce new innovative solutions, expand our collaborative partnership ecosystem and hire top talent. Through this role, I am looking to combine my local market experience with global colleagues to bring world-class innovative solutions for our clients in the region.

Tell us about what makes additiv’s platform approach so different to others in the world of WealthTech?

I believe that additiv is unique in offering Banking-as-a-Service and Embedded Finance to support Wealth-as-a-Service in the market. Based on conversations and our internal research, no other vendor is providing such capabilities. Our solutions sit over a uniquely designed cloud native platform created with a modern digitalarchitecture that enables end to end customer and relationship manager journeys. What we bring to the table is deep wealth management and banking expertise to help our clients design and launch winning market propositions.

What are the key use cases for embedded finance and embedded wealth in the Middle East and why?

Put simply, embedded finance is the placing of a financial product in a nonfinancial customer experience, journey, or platform. In itself, that is nothing new. For decades, nonbanks have offered financial services via private-label credit cards at retail chains, supermarkets, and airlines. Other common forms of embedded finance include sales financing at appliance retailers and auto loans at dealerships. Arrangements like these operate as a channel for the banks behind them to reach end customers. What makes this next generation of embedded finance so powerful is the integration of financial products into digital interfaces that users interact with daily. Possibilities are varied: customer loyalty apps, digital wallets, accounting software, and shopping-cart platforms, among others. For consumers and businesses using these interfaces, acquiring financial services becomes a natural extension of a nonfinancial experience such as shopping online, scheduling employees to work shifts, or managing inventory.  This fully integrated form of embedded finance is what we see growing in the Middle East. Despite the scale of this opportunity, many banks, payments providers, fintechs, investors, software firms, and potential distributors are unsure what embedded finance involves, how they can participate, and what it takes to win.

Looking to the future, what do you think the wealth management services market will look like in five years time?

The future of wealth management services market in the region, especially in the UAE and KSA is strong. There is an influx of capital and wealth coming into the region and it is forecasted that more than USD 1 Trillion in assets will be transferred to the next generation in the Middle East over this decade. On top of this, there is massive room within the market for tech-enabled disruptions when it comes to investor experience, investment product variety, speed of execution and quality of advice. The Middle East market has not witnessed the same level of technology investment as the European and US markets in the past, but this is rapidly changing and driven by increasing preference of clients to engage with digital platforms & channels.

So, the future of wealth management services market in the Middle East is a bigger one, with more wealth. It is also one which harnesses the power of technology for optimal consumer servicing.

Finally, if you were to meet the 20-year-old you now, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?

Know where you would like to go, what you would like to achieve and be a “Seeker;” The “how” will gradually unfold in ways you could never imagine!


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