Hedge Funds’ Move to Dubai

Shaping the Landscape

Hedge Funds’ Move to Dubai

For this edition, we turn our focus to the notable shift happening as hedge funds increasingly set their sights on the UAE, and primarily Dubai.

Dubai’s emergence as a hedge fund hub is rooted in its strategic location, business-friendly policies, tax advantages, and advantageous trading time zones. It’s no longer just competing; it’s redefining the game and posing a threat to more traditional financial powerhouses like London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Notable names like Citadel, Millennium, Balyasny, Schonfeld, and Brevan Howard have already made their mark in this thriving environment and many more funds have announced future plans to open in the region.

Dynamic Shifts: A Surge in Non-Investment Roles

This year we witnessed a surge in non-investment professionals making the move to the UAE. Whilst front office staff have been making moves to the region for a few years, 2023 was the first noticeable year for non-revenue generating staff and as a result, our hiring mandates soared by over 200%. With Operations/Middle Office making up 60% of these mandates; Compliance was 20% and the rest were across Marketing, Treasury and Technology. Despite a big uptick on UAE based mandates, we see the majority of clients initially looking to build their teams in the region through internal movements, and when this is not an option, the search turns to more traditional talent networks, more often in London and Hong Kong.

Navigating Hiring

While the idea of moving talent from other financial centers to Dubai is enticing, it poses distinctive challenges for companies. The question of compensation typically takes center stage in discussions with candidates, and although salaries remain competitive, they tend to be on par with those in London. The substantial advantage, however, lies in the lack of income tax. Job offers from companies often feature supplementary perks like housing allowances, transportation benefits, and educational support, contributing to a comprehensive and appealing compensation package.

Looking Forward

Whilst there have been a few locations outside of the core trading hubs that have promised but failed to really ‘take-off’ (Paris, Milan etc) in the past, the general market sentiment is that Dubai is here to stay. Given the fact that the majority of the big alternative asset management stalwarts are already in the region, it’s only a matter of time before the others follow suit. The main danger to this would naturally be if the current tax environment were to change, but with the current state of play set to remain for some time, we envision the migration of talent to the Middle-East to continue.

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