Inter-Alliance International has selected Bahrain as its launch pad for the Middle East, and this month has officially opened an office in the country.
Chris Curry has been appointed managing director, reporting to Brian Cosgrave, chief executive of Inter-Alliance International, and will be responsible for the company's growth in the Middle Eastern region.
According to Curry, Inter-Alliance International will target both the expat and the local market.
He said it is hard to estimate how many British expats reside in Bahrain, although he is aware the British Club in Bahrain, of which he is treasurer, has 1,600 members. There is also a large Indian population.
'The market here requires IFAs to have credibility and to provide advice of the highest quality,' said Curry.
He plans to hire between six and eight advisers.
With regard to local market opportunities, Curry is confident that language and religion will not be impediments to non-Arab independent financial advisers.
'Most Arab businessmen speak English,' he added.
And on Shariah-based financial services, he noted that it was not too technical.
'You can learn it pretty quickly,' he commented.
The Iraq war and instability in the region has not really had an impact on the expat community, Curry noted.
'During the first Gulf war, a lot of expatriates stayed here. In this war, it was mainly the families that tended to leave.'
There are longer-term plans to establish an office in the United Arab Emirates. However Curry said it is still too early to provide more information.
The choice of Bahrain as the launch pad is based on his view that Bahrain is more of a banking centre compared with, for example, Dubai.
'Bahrain is the banking centre of the Middle East. The locals are quite refined in their experience of financial matters. Dubai is cosmopolitan, but it is more of a shopping place.'
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