Complex Made Simple

MENA-specific wealth management platform caters to digital native asset holders

The platform has been developed to meet the rapidly expanding needs of the Middle East's digital native wealth owners, marking a first for investors. Aster is user-centric and delivers pricing and reporting simplicity

The Aster platform was developed with the MENA region’s needs first Millennials and Gen Zs will become the largest asset holders within the next ten years Services and products available in the market today do not meet the basic needs of the digital era

Recently, Aster, a mobile-first, seamless & intuitive personal wealth management platform, launched the world’s first digital wealth management platform designed for the MENA market.

The platform has been developed to meet the rapidly expanding needs of the Middle East’s digital native wealth owners, marking a first for investors. Aster is user-centric and delivers pricing and reporting simplicity, reducing the average time of an individual’s wealth reporting to minutes instead of days or weeks.

In May 2020, Aster conducted a series of in-depth interviews with 95 High and Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) across the MENA region, living in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, and Egypt. 

The Aster study explored the changing dynamics of the population, current attitudes, and digital expectations towards managing wealth across the region. It found:

  • Currently, inheritance stands at 13% as a primary source of wealth but this will spike within the next decade
  • 77% of investors work with two or more advisors in managing their wealth
  • Only 20% had access to consolidated asset management reports
  • 95% have a quarterly or monthly update frequency due to its time-consuming nature, wherein management is reactive and incurs high opportunity costs as a result of delayed updates
  • 100% would love to get their holdings updated at market closing or real-time
  • 98% had a desire to use such a secure digital wealth management platform

AMEinfo investigated more through an interview with Talal M. AlAjeel, Founder & CEO.

1- How does Aster’s wealth management platform compare with other wealth management platforms in the region?

Aster provides wealth owners with a secure and easy-to-use wealth reporting tool that is mobile-first, enabling them to understand how their wealth is performing and where it is invested across institutions, portfolios, and asset classes, at any given time.

The platform incorporates banking-grade security, providing users with a secure and private environment for true data-driven investment decisions. The Aster platform was developed with the MENA region’s needs first. We spoke with 95 HNWIs across the MENA region in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, and Egypt and the results of that survey were critical in helping inform some of our strategic decisions. Our platform is the first of its kind developed specifically for this region. 

2- Is your target HNWIs or Millennial and Gen Zs?  

Millennials and Gen Zs will become the largest asset holders within the next ten years. These two generations are complete digital natives and their needs have not been well catered to in the past. We wanted to provide the bridge between the management tools of previous generations, the influence of human asset interactions, and empower our customers with something that provides real-time information. 

In today’s mobile age, a digital wealth ecosystem and instant representation of one’s holdings is no longer a luxury but a basic necessity ruling out the major pain points currently experienced with reporting which is very manual in nature resulting in reactive decision making. Our mission at Aster is to support the proactive management of wealth and enable data-driven investment decision-making for our valuable users.

3- What is interesting or missing about MENA wealth management that prompts a dedicated platform for it?

MENA’s digital wealth landscape is fragmented and underserved when compared to more mature markets such as North American or Europe, however digital adoption and literacy is amongst the highest in the world. This gap poses a tremendous opportunity to deliver on the demands of our digital native population where we see startups driving innovation across tools that enable easier access to investment opportunities and global markets, Robo-advisory and, with Aster’s offering, reporting simplicity and hyper-personalized advice in support of managing one’s wealth more efficiently and proactively.

Services and products available in the market today do not meet the basic needs of the digital era and the digital native wealth owner. Our platform also incorporates ESG 

Millennials and Gen Zs have very different approaches to investments. The importance of their ESG impact, revised attitudes to risk management, and digital nativism have reshaped the landscape. 

4- What do you know of the risk tolerance displayed by wealth owners in the region?

Risk tolerance, generally, is a complex and subjective matter where a lot of factors come into play to determine an investor’s optimal levels. Some of those factors include age, objectives, return required, and the level of risk an investor can afford to take. This is where Aster’s risk analytics and hyper-personalization will deliver tremendous value and is in our immediate product roadmap. The platform allows customers to see how their assets are performing and critically what impact their portfolio has in terms of the community, employees, environment, and corporate governance.  

5- What is unique about the platform?

Imagine a day where you no longer have to rely on excel to consolidate your wealth. A day where daily data drives your decisions. That day is here!

6- is ESG an important element of where and how assets are invested? Why?

Impact is a core value of ours wherein helping our users thrive and communities prosper is key. In order to achieve that we must focus on sustainability and enable our users to align their investments with the values they uphold. Younger generations are influencing responsible investing today more than ever via increased exposure to companies that pursue sustainable goals such as fighting climate change or other social agendas.

In addition to aligning with non-financial goals, ESG investing has proven to be resilient during bear markets and tends to outperform peers! All in all, the trend is here to stay for the long haul. Using Aster’s impact scoring metrics, based on environment, social & governance (ESG) benchmarks for over 12,000+ companies, investors will be able to evaluate if their capital is truly aligned with their values.

7- Does the platform allow for person-to-person advice? Is it Robo-advising all the way?

Aster is meant to be a compliment, not a substitute, to the valuable client-advisor relationship. Using Aster, our customers never have to worry about manual price updates as the heavy lifting is done for you. We look at reducing any potential human error and allow our clients to be fully up to date at all times. 

8- What are the numbers when it comes to minimum balance, advisory and management fees, etc.

Aster is not a mass-market service and has been designed for High net-worth and UHNWIs across the MENA region. Individuals can apply for the service on our website and our team will work with candidates to provide the best service for their financial needs. 

The Aster platform has been built for users across the region and beyond and we aim to onboard qualified clients within a month of application. 

9- What areas of investments is ASTER able to provide and likely focus on?

Aster doesn’t prescript which investments customers use. We are providing market intelligence that allows customers to make their own investment decisions.