Ahli United Bank (AUB) is a regional Middle-east bank with net profits of US$730 million last year that saw its assets rise by 13.4% to US$40,280m and deposits by 7.8% to US$25,518m. The Private Bank targets those with US$1m+ and has onshore units in the UAE, Baharain and UK, and a Trust Company in Guernsey. It offers Sharia compliant investment and insurance options, garnering it the Best Private Bank for Islamic Services trophy at the PBI Global Wealth Summit & Awards 2020

Access to a strong regional base with its 151 branches also present in Kuwait, Egypt, Oman, Iraq and Libya, via its commercial and retail banks, and life insurance available via its insurance firm in Bahrain, plus more options via its indirect ownership into Saudi Investment Company, MEFIC, mean it has a diverse footprint and offering. AUB Group has more than 4,000 employees from 39 nationalities, of which 35% are women.

Conventional and separate sharia compliant investments can be accessed via the Private Bank in:

  • real estate (sharia mortgages);
  • mutual funds;
  • fixed income;
  • structured products and so on.

All are backed by brokerage services and dual currency deposits. Its wide range of sharia products come with strong governance, certification and monitoring, as do its life insurance options backed by business and philanthropic societal contributions.

Its growth strategy is based on these products; cross-selling; a segmentation focus on entrepreneurs; and good training for its relationship managers (RMs), leaders and staff via a new e-learning academy that has three levels of mandatory courses. Steady organic growth via RMs of 10% per annum using the standard three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) metric is evident for high net worth (HNW) and ultra HNW individuals. Assets under management (AUM) rose by 27% in 2019.

Succession planning services for tax, asset protection, family and business continuity and so on are available, with the Guernsey Trust options also capable of being sharia compliant. As of December 2019 AUB had more than 201 trusts and Private-Portfolio Investment Companies (PIC’s) with total assets exceeding US$750m.

The bank has placed customer service at the heart of its future planning, backed by a digital innovation drive, and new cyber-security measures, such as brand protection, third-party security risk benchmarking, and:

  • A Network Access Control solution (NAC)
  • New endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool
  • Advanced threat hunting techniques
  • Implementation of a cyber-incident response programme in case of breaches
  • & extensive data protection and privacy protocols, including data leakage monitoring.

Its innovation drive is evidenced by it now offering cross-border SWIFT GPI payments and tracking, a corporate deposit card for business clients, plus other servcies, such as:

  • A social media banking service using WhatsApp for Business supported by artificial intelligence (AI) dissemination.
  • Ameen™ virtual chatbot powered by AI enables customers to communicate with the bank on WhatsApp and receive assistance using conversational English or Arabic.
  • Video banking was launched to allow eligible customers to speak with an advisor 24x7.

Its digital efforts have been rewarded with close to 95% of AUB Group transactions done in 2019 outside the branch, although extensive Covid-19 business continuity planning (BCP) measures did contribute to this.

The bank’s support for training via its aforementioned new e-learning portal was further backed up by the unveiling of a Digital Transformation Management Training programme that involves 14 fresh graduates p.a. going through a six-month extensive course. Retention is also a priority, with a 10 year service span among AUB proving it’s a good place to work.

Outstanding Private Banker  

Laila Ashour, the Head of Private Banking & Wealth Management at Ahli United Bank: Egypt, has more than 38 years of experience in the field, the majority with AUB. Her skills, knowledge and leadership are why she was one of the various winners of the Outstanding Private Banker – Regional Player recognitions at the PBI Global Wealth Summit & Awards 2020.

Her professionalism and integrity have always delivered results, with growth of more than 20% in 2019 in the deposit and investment portfolio at the Egypt office booked, 37.5% for offshore mortgages. She has established a vast network of HNW clients in Egypt and provides global accessibility and investment options, helped by a new MyGlobal service.

Additionally, Ashour always supports employees on all levels to learn and advance, and seeks to mentor others throughout the industry she loves.

Ahli United Bank (AUB) also won for Best Private Bank for Islamic Services and achieved Highly Commended (HC) status in the Outstanding Private Bank: Middle East category at the 30th annual Private Banker International (PBI): Global Wealth Summit & Awards 2020

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