Frequently Asked Questions
All the need-to-know information delivered in an easy digest.
Why is Holborn Assets located in Dubai?
Holborn Assets was founded by Robert and Pauline Parker to fill a huge gap in the financial service offering that existed in Dubai in the early 2000s. The UK at the time had plenty of personal financial planning options but this was lacking in the UAE despite the tax-free regime attracting droves of expats from the UK and elsewhere, most without a clue on how to handle the ins and outs of cross-border financial planning. Holborn Assets plugged a gap in the market and our reassuring presence in the UAE has been the anchor for our international growth.
Is Holborn Assets a licensed financial services company in the UAE?
Yes, we are. Holborn Assets is licensed by the UAE Ministry of Economy. In the UK, Holborn Assets Limited is FCA-regulated (Reference Number: 648817).
Is Holborn Assets on the Insurance Authority (IA) list in the UAE?
Yes, we are. Registration on the ‘Insurance Authority (IA) List’ makes it legal for Holborn Assets and other insurance-related companies to do business in the UAE. There are, in fact, nine insurance-related categories and we are registered on the ‘Insurance Broker Companies’ list (#180).
How important is it to read the fine print?
We would urge everyone to take the time to read the fine print on any agreement, especially when it comes to your finances. We know we are all used to signing dozens of things a week, or at least checking the ‘yes’ box and clicking submit, but the fine print can have an enormous impact on your hard-earned money so it is important to know what you are agreeing to. You may find clauses that bind you to obligations you didn’t anticipate which can result in unforeseen penalties or financial losses. As such it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
What is meant by a “policy cooling off” period?
You may want to cancel an insurance policy if you have just bought it and have changed your mind. By law, you have a minimum 30 day cooling off period during which you can cancel the policy for any reason.
How often should my adviser meet with me once I’m a client?
Your adviser will contact you annually for a full review of your portfolio. In some cases, this may happen more frequently, depending on what has been agreed and specific requirements. You also have access to our Client Relationship Management Team for any product or service related clarification you may need. Your will IFA will be available to answer any queries, or to meet upon request, but we don’t like to bother you too frequently as we know our clients have busy lives.
Why is my fund performance low?
Your portfolio is reviewed on a regular basis. It may be also useful for you to refer the views and market updates sent out by Holborn Assets from time to time so as to better understand how your funds are performing and what is happening in global markets generally. Please refer any immediate concerns you may have regarding any falls in value to your IFA for further guidance.
What are the fees involved pertaining to my investment?
Please note that fees and charges will vary from product to product. Please refer to the signed fee schedule for all charges and fees regarding your investment portfolio.
How do I change my contact details and why is it important to do so?
In order that we can advise you on an ongoing basis, it is important that we know how to contact you. You also have an obligation to notify any product providers of any changes of address or contact details but we will assist with this process and be your main point of contact.
In some cases, you will be asked to complete a form and/or provide up to date proof of address. Let us know about any changes in your circumstances, whether that a new address, a change of name, or a change of country, as all are relevant.
Another important reason to keep records up to date is to ensure that policies do not lapse by accident. For example, if premiums are missed for a life policy your valuable cover will be lost and we need to be able to let you know if there are any problems.
What is my surrender value and how long does it take to obtain the information?
We can usually provide surrender values in two to three working days. Any request to surrender a policy requires paperwork and we will assist with that.
Please bear in mind that there is usually a surrender penalty if you wish to fully surrender a policy before the maturity or option date. If money is required, you may have the ability to take a withdrawal from a plan with little or no penalty so it is best to explore that option. Please contact your adviser or email@example.com with the policy details in order to obtain information.
What are the guidelines for certification of documents?
A suitable certifier and should evidence that the Certifier has seen the original document and confirm that the copy is a true and accurate copy of the original document. The acceptable wording should read as follows:
“I have seen the original of (describe documentation) and I certify that this copy of the document is a complete and accurate copy of that original”.
The Certification must also include the following details:
Signature of the Certifier
Name of Certifier
Position or Capacity
Contact information of the Certifier (Address, Phone Number / Email Address)
Solicitor / Counsel
Director or Manager of a Regulated Credit or financial institution
How do I compliment a Holborn Assets employee?
Thank you for taking the time to compliment a Holborn Assets employee. To make sure it ends up in the right hands, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experience with us.
How do I lodge a formal complaint?
At Holborn Assets, we aim to always meet and exceed our clients’ expectations and honour all of our commitments. As our client, we believe you have the right to a fair, swift and courteous service at all times. If you are not completely satisfied with an aspect of our service, we have a complaints procedure in place to make sure the matter is dealt with promptly, effectively and in a positive manner.
There are several ways you can contact Holborn Assets to make a complaint:
You can speak to your adviser to see if an issue can be resolved, you can submit your complaint by filling out an online form on the Contact Us page, or by sending us an email at email@example.com.
Why don't I just ask my bank for investment advice?
Your bank is not independent. That means that they can only advise on their own limited products or those of the single insurance company that they have partnered with. Holborn Assets is independent which means that we are not tied to any single provider and have no vested interest in any specific insurance or investment company.
Our independence means that not only can we select from the best plans in the whole market, we can also advise on any existing plans, giving you a holistic overview of your full financial planning. We are interested in the big financial picture, not just the sale of one off-the-shelf product.
How heavily is the UAE insurance scene regulated?
In a word, very.
The Insurance Authority (IA) is the organisation in charge of regulation in the UAE. Holborn Assets is registered with the IA, along with all other insurance-related companies.
The IA has teeth and is not afraid to use them. Companies are routinely removed from the IA lists of registered companies for non-compliance with regulation, with 16 such offenders in 2015 alone.
What’s more, the IA is growing hugely in ambition and stature. The Director General of the IA, Ibrahim Obaid Al Zaabi, has been selected to sit on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS). This is a big deal: as ‘the IAIS represents insurance regulators and supervisors of more than 200 jurisdictions in nearly 140 countries, constituting 97% of the world’s insurance premiums.’ (www.iaisweb.org/home).
Are all advisers qualified?
At Holborn, we only engage qualified advisers and we offer substantial in-house support for all professional examinations and qualifications. Our advisers have qualifications from a number of recognised professional bodies, including the Chartered Insurance Institute, London Institute of Banking & Finance, Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).
We encourage all advisers to keep studying to keep their qualifications relevant and up to date.
Is my capital secure?
That depends on how it is invested. Some structured products offer a safeguard that your capital investment will remain safe whatever the markets do, but you will have to pay for this privilege in terms of fees as well as having less exposure to any market gains. Few equity linked products offer capital guarantees but this is made clear at the outset.
Here at Holborn Assets, we appreciate that every one of our clients has a different financial scenario and thus different objectives and tolerance of risk. Our emphasis is on finding products that match that specific risk/reward appetite precisely. Our advice will always be to minimise losses first and worry about gains second, but it is entirely up to you, the client, how that risk/reward balance is calibrated. We are aware that this is your money so you need to be comfortable with how it is managed.
When can I access my money?
This depends on what you’ve signed up for. That’s why it is so critical to take advice that you can trust, as well as using your own persistence to get to the bottom of any financial deal you are offered.
Some plans require that money is invested for a set period, some allow some access but with penalties, others have easier access. In each case, there are pros and cons and there can be benefits to investing for a longer period and this is made clear at the outset.
It’s all a question of balance; of what level of return you are after, versus how much illiquidity and risk you are prepared to tolerate.
Can I switch insurance cover to get a better deal?
In a word, yes. And that applies to most forms of insurance and assurance for both private and business clients.
Depending on what you’ve signed up for in the past, exit fees may apply so if you are tied into a legal arrangement, the terms of that arrangement stand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change to suit a change in circumstances, or simply to get a better deal. We will advise on each specific situation.
Which areas of insurance are easy to overlook in the UAE?
Despite life assurance being one of the best-known types of insurance policy, there are still large numbers of people who have liabilities such as debts and mortgages, as well as dependents, who do not have any life cover in place. Addressing our mortality is not something anyone likes to do, but it is very important to ensure that your family is protected and it doesn’t have to be costly or complicated.
Critical illness cover is another important type of cover that is all too often ignored, yet it can often be bolted on to a life policy. We are all more likely to suffer one of the main conditions covered (heart disease, stroke and cancer) than to die before age 65 and levels of claims in the UAE are higher than in the West.
The majority of UAE residents rent their home, so the issue of ignoring contents and personal belongings is easily overlooked. Whilst there is no legal requirement to have contents insurance, it is smart to insure your personal possessions in case of accident, fire or loss and it is not expensive to do so.
With financial markets so insecure, isn't it better to simply save us a mountain of cash to pay for my kids' education?
Here at Holborn Assets, we understand why some clients can be less than impressed with the idea of a specific product to help in financial planning for education. Their concerns can be summed up in one question. Why not just put the money away ourselves and avoid all fees?
Well, you can do that. And, in some circumstances, this might be the right course of action, but the fact remains that until you have looked at the alternatives, you cannot be sure of the right method for you. That is why it is beneficial to at least have the conversation about what is available.
We are in a time of low-interest rates, with returns on cash deposits often being rather less than the rate of inflation, so you could benefit from a cautious investment, without significant risk to capital and the opportunity of increasing your returns.
What really nails the importance of education-specific savings vehicles though, is the whole issue of discipline. If you have money going into a specific financial plan, you cannot easily access it until the chosen option date so the temptation simply does not exist to use the money for other purposes.
If you truly believe that your children’s education is the most important thing in the world, then education savings plans can be the way to show it.
Can you advise on which UAE schools would be best for my kids?
We can do our best. We can tell you how our children are getting on at the schools they go to and we can give you the inside track on reputations and results for a spread of establishments.
We don’t have any vested interest here but our collective years of knowledge and being plugged into the local community means we are well-placed to offer informal advice as part of any financial planning we discuss with you.
What is the advantage of setting up an education trust in the UAE?
You could always use brokers and solicitors (or equivalent) in your home country to handle any number of financial matters. The reality is, though, that such issues are always complicated by the fact that you are an expat. Your advisers back home will not, by definition, be familiar with the challenges that arise as part and parcel of cross-border financial planning, or myriad legal or tax issues.
It makes a lot of sense, as an expat, to consult with people who are used to dealing with expat issues. And that means Holborn Assets, or any other experts in financial planning that you trust.
Can I transfer my pension to the UAE?
Strictly speaking, no. But they can be managed from here by people you can meet with regularly.
Many UK expats have the option of consolidating existing plans and then having them managed with their personal interests to the fore, rather than just being one member of a very large scheme. Options such as Self-Invested Pension Plans (SIPPs) and Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) can be valid choices and in some cases, will also have tax advantages. For example, a QROPS can be held in a variety of worldwide jurisdictions (such as Malta, the Isle of Man, Guernsey) with income paid in dirhams into your UAE bank account, or in almost any other currency.
If you have old employer related schemes or personal pensions, it is in your interest to review them and ensure that they are being invested and managed to suit you, your views, and your future plans.
What happens if I don’t make any changes to my UK pensions?
Well, nothing that wouldn’t have happened before, in the sense that nothing catastrophic is going to happen if you don’t transfer your pension into a personally managed vehicle to match your expat status. Unless of course, you are a member of a failing occupational scheme with serious financial issues.
In many cases, it can be beneficial to take action and restructure but we will thoroughly review plans before offering any advice. It makes sense to properly review your pension plans to ensure that they are working for you.
Can you arrange mortgages for clients?
Absolutely! We have an in-house mortgage team that arrange mortgages in both the UK and the UAE. They are experienced, knowledgeable, and focus only on mortgages so are always up to date with the latest offers and legislation.
We are not tied to any one mortgage provider, which allows us to be totally impartial. In fact, quite the opposite as we believe we have the largest panel of lenders of any broker in the UAE and all are geared up to dealing with the unique circumstances of being an expat.
The sheer volume of mortgage products in the international sector makes it a fast-moving, complex arena. We will always find the mortgage deal that works best for our client, whether you are looking to buy your first property, refinance, or to build up a portfolio of investment properties.
Is there anything I should know about getting a mortgage in the UK?
Lots of things. You will understand that every country has its different ways of doing things, and the UAE is no exception. The requirements are quite different to the UK, or other countries, as are the fees and charges. Bear in mind that estate agents work for both sides in a deal, so you’re not going to find any independent support there.
Holborn will help you find the best mortgage in the market with terms that fit with your income and lifestyle. We don't stop until we get it right for you and our fees are transparent and definitely worth it.
We would stress the importance of securing funding before you go looking for a property. We’ve seen so many clients disappointed because they’ve found their dream home, only to find that the seller won’t deal with them because they haven’t secured funding beforehand.
We will go through the full process with you from when you ask how much you can borrow, to gaining mortgage approval, to liaising with solicitors and agents, the final mortgage offer, the processes at the Land Department, and completing the purchase. We will make a complex process easier.
I'm thinking of starting up a business in the UAE, can you help?
Of course we can. Sometimes there’s the impression financial advisers just set up plans but we offer more than that. Sure, we act as intermediaries between clients and providers of financial products but that continual presence at the heart of business arrangements, as well as having a successful expanding business of our own, means we are well-placed to offer start-up support.
Where we can perhaps be most helpful initially, apart from foundation-level business planning, is in setting you up with the people we know out here in the UAE. You can’t beat local knowledge. It can set you on a perfect footing for the rest of your business journey. Then, as your business grows, you can continue to pick and choose how you want us to help; in supplying a growth-accelerating cocktail of financial products, arranging for out-sourcing or simply offering consultancy services.
If it’s done in business, it’s likely we’ve done it before (or know somebody who has).
I need a line of credit; what can you offer me that my bank can't?
Choice. That’s it in a nutshell. As a broker, choice is what we offer which banks do not; and, here at Holborn Assets, that choice is supported by robust support when you make that choice and in all future financial choices to come. We stick around and pick up snags for as long as you want us to.
I've run into some trouble with my SME in the UAE, can you help?
If you’ve fallen foul of debt legislation, it’s likely that we will have some insight into ways other businesses in the past have dealt with a very similar situation to your own. If you’re facing cash-flow problems then we can almost definitely help, as there are a number of financial arrangements we are aware of that can tide you over. Impartial guidance can be very helpful.
If, on the other hand, your business is swimming along quite nicely, we’d be very interested to see how we can help turn it into something bigger. Experienced independent advice can assist many businesses and we can do so much more than arrange the medical insurance that all companies require. Ask about our business consultancy service.
Will and Estate Planning
I think I'm too young to write a Will, why can't I wait until I'm older?
Time and tide waits for no man is the well known saying and if you have family, especially children, and any assets, writing even a simple will can protect them.
The legalities of living in the UAE are very different to those of home countries and without the right advice, your family could face real problems in addition to the loss of a beloved relative. Sharia law applies to everyone living in the UAE but there are steps that can be taken so that your assets are not frozen and left in limbo for months or years.
In tandem with Wills and guardianship for minor children, we can also advise you on matters such as arranging trusts. This is usually not a complex as it may sound and can have substantial tax advantages.
If you leave everything to the last minute it may well be too late (if you get our meaning) and your family will lose out. Get started now with the basics, be prepared to change things as you go, and enjoy a fantastic feeling of satisfaction when you finally retire and realise you’ve done most of your legacy legwork already.
The important thing about Wills and Estate Planning is to tie it in with the rest of your financial affairs; lining up your ducks, so to speak. Leaving it all until you retire doesn’t make a lot of sense.
We know that this can be a difficult topic for some people to discuss but we have all done this ourselves and as family people ourselves we understand the issues and concerns.
What can Holborn Assets offer me that solicitors don't?
We look at Wills and Estate Planning as part of your wider financial picture. These matters don’t stand in isolation and we want to ensure that all your plans work in harmony and your retirement planning is realistic. There is no point, for example, in crafting a considered Will and an intricate structure of Trusts only to find that neither are either tax efficient or supported by the rest of your financial strategy. By the time you find that out, it will invariably be too late.
We work with other professionals, such as lawyers, and trust experts to ensure you receive the right advice.