There is no doubt that we live in interesting times on many levels and naturally people will have financial concerns. High on the list of worries is the potential adverse effect of a geopolitical event but it is the potential repercussions of this and how issues impact us locally and well as globally that we need to consider. There is not much most of us can do about these global issues but we can take steps to protect ourselves and our families.
Life in the UAE has its own pressures and challenges and whilst there is usually a lot of optimism, right now there are issues facing us. It is no worse here than in the rest of the world but being an expat can have its own demands. To find out what UAE residents are thinking and feeling as we start the new year, I put together a survey and this article is about the results. All responses were anonymous.
I asked if people felt that their job was secure and this table shows the responses.
Of the respondents who were self-employed or running a business, only 3% considered their business to be very financially stable. The remainder were split equally between ‘mostly financially secure’ and not secure.
These days few people have a job for life and these figures are not dissimilar to those seen elsewhere.
The next set of questions were about how optimistic people were for the economy, both globally and in the UAE.
How are your personal finances?
Your personal financial position will have a bearing on how you feel about your job or work situation and the question people were asked was, ‘as you head into 2018, are your personal finances in good shape?’
More than 50% knew that they could ‘do better’ so now is the time to take action and work towards improving your position.
I then asked if people thought their overall situation would improve in 2018 and despite the apparent concerns about the economy, the responses were broadly optimistic
One of the biggest changes in the UAE this year is the introduction of VAT from 1st January and I asked if people thought this would have an impact. One third thought it would have a significant impact on them and their financial situation; 55% thought it would have some impact, and 12% do not expect it to have any real impact on them personally.
What else might impact upon your personal financial situation in 2018?
For this question people could choose multiple responses and it is clear that there are wide-ranging concerns.
|The introduction of VAT in the UAE||87%|
|A possible fall in global stock markets||23%|
|Action taken by the US/Russia/North Korea||17%|
|Regional economic factors||48%|
|Regional political factors||34%|
|Inflation affecting prices||54%|
|An increase in UAE property prices and/or rents||30%|
|A decrease in UAE property prices and/or rents||16%|
|Issues relating to my own family||34%|
|Oil and gas prices||32%|
Responses in the other category included school fees increasing about inflation, Brexit, and personal plans to move country.
Have you taken all the right steps to protect yourself and plan for the future?
Many of the issues that affect our lives are outside of our control but there are steps that we can take to reduce the impact of external factors, such as economic downturns, falls in stock markets, redundancy, health issues, or a death.
Bank account in own name. 68% of posters have this. It is important to have a local account in your sole name as on death accounts are frozen and anyone relying on a joint account will not be able to access their money.
A will. A mere 22% of respondents have wills in place so there re many more than should look at addressing this. Not having a will means you have no say regarding your assets, or the guardianship of your children. See this article for more information. Where there’s a will there’s a way to protect your family
Offshore bank account. 42% of respondents have an offshore bank account. This is something that can be useful for most expats and you don’t need large sums to set one up. Take a look here for more information. The benefits of offshore banking for expats
A secure emergency fund. Worryingly just 42% say they have an emergency fund. This is one of the most important things you can do and is essential for everyone. Should anything go wrong this is what allows you to carry on for a while without panicking. If you don’t have cash for at least three month’s outgoings in a secure bank account, then you need to start building this up now.
A cost-effective way of transferring money. Most banks will offer poor rates of exchange and you can get better value with no effort. See here for how: Save money on your currency transfers
Retirement savings & investment plans. Slightly fewer than half the people who completed the survey have any kind of pensions, investments, or general retirement plans. Considering that 43% of respondents were aged 40 or over, and that 50% were aged 31 to 40 years this is a concern. We all need to plan for out future and there are various options, some very flexible.. Come and see me for a no-obligation chat to find out more.
Life cover. 50% of people have life cover but as 84% are married, we an be sure that many more should have life and other protection policies. This doesn’t have to be complicated, or even expensive to look at simple cover. Have a read of these articles for more information.
Can you afford to have a serious illness?
For advice and assistance on the widest range of personal financial planning issues please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and see other articles on this website for other useful information.
Podcast of the show on Dubai Eye covering these issues and your financial resolutions. Dubai Eye podcast 08/01/19- New Year, new resolutions