Spotlight on Expat Living – Qatar

Qatar – The Market

doha_night-skyline

Qatar is a well-regulated market that will appeal to UK qualified advisers who want to maintain their high quality, professional approach to financial advice and service. The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), by applying UK-style regulations, has certainly raised the ‘standards bar’ in the region.

Each organisation is required to have a (significantly high) minimum level of capital in order to apply for a QFCRA license and, once licensed, to have a dedicated Compliance Officer. Only UK Level-4 qualified advisers are allowed to operate under the QFCRA. QROPS business is not allowed

There are just 3 QFCRA-licensed financial advisory firms in Qatar (all based in the capital, Doha) and therefore there are simply too few advisers available to service the large and growing, and extremely wealthy, expat market. The population of Qatar has grown from 700,000 to 1.4m in the last few years and Qatar has the highest earnings per capita in the World. Needless to say, financial advisers operating in Qatar enjoy very high average earnings and opportunities are immense.

The majority of business comes from English-speaking ex-pats (from UK, EU, USA, Australasia, etc.) working in the oil/gas/construction/education sectors. All companies have a lead generation function (coordinators) in place to provide appointments to new and existing financial advisers. Advisers are expected to generate referrals from leads provided.

Qatar – Getting Authorised

The authorisation process for new recruits usually takes 4 weeks provided all the required references, bank statements and application forms are submitted in a timely fashion. Each new financial adviser will be interviewed by telephone by a member of the QFCRA (this interview will usually last for one hour).

Doha – Living and Working there

Doha is safe, clean and less expensive than Dubai. It is also less frenetic than Dubai but on a recent visit the rush hour reminded me of Dubai 7 years ago – not particularly fun, but it just demonstrates how quickly this location is developing. However, it offers everything to the ex-pat adviser that Dubai offers.

Qatar has demonstrated its lust for worldwide recognition by making significant investments in the world of sport. Major tournaments are now hosted locally featuring championship level golf, tennis, cycling, motocross, athletics, handball and volleyball. Their recent investment in Paris Saint-Germain (and a certain David Beckham), not to mention the 2022 World Cup shows just how ambitious this country is.

High quality living accommodation is available at lower prices than Dubai. The general ‘cost of living’ is probably on a par with outer London. There is a wide range of excellent international hotels – many with bars and night-clubs (serving alcohol). Those interested in golf, rugby and water sports are well catered for.

With the World Cup due in 2022, there are massive infrastructural projects planned and underway. Qatar will continue to grow. This is an exciting ‘new frontier’ and will reward the financial advisers who choose it over, the rather more brash, Dubai. Where Dubai is ‘over-broked’ with financial advisers, Qatar is significantly ‘under-broked’.

Each firm is well-managed and standards are high – which should suit new advisers from the UK. This is a market for the professional, qualified adviser who wants to make – and save – money. There is no income tax in Qatar.

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