W&F Q1

www.wealthandfinance-news.com Q1 2024&wealth finance i n t e r n a t i o n a l Featuring: zielke research consult

Editor’s Comment Welcome to the Q1 edition of Wealth & Finance International magazine. As always, with every issue, we endeavour to provide fund managers, alongside institutional and private investors with the very latest industry news in the traditional and alternative investment spheres. As we make our way through Q1, 2024 is looking to be a landmark year for the world of finance, with various significant changes and developments projected ahead. Among these, AI will continue to have a pivotal influence, whether in revolutionising customer service, reshaping financial tools, or streamlining back-office operations. From generative AI such as chatbots, to AI-powered insurance, to process automation, to sustainable practices and product offerings, to digital and crypto currencies, to blockchain banking, and more, each of these factors will bring about a dramatic shift for the better within the industry. There is a lot to be excited about – not just innovative developments, but also the businesses who are, thanks to their dedicated teams and implementation of cutting-edge technology, playing their part in the success of this brilliant industry. As such, we are delighted to be sharing the inspiring stories of our award-winning businesses who specialise in company formation, financial and ESG analysis, and private sector investment – and putting people first in everything they do. We hope you find this issue to be insightful and we wish you a prosperous quarter ahead! In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming you back again soon for our Q2 issue. Rebecca Scotland, Editor AI Global Media, Ltd. (AI) takes reasonable measures to ensure the quality of the information on this web site. However, AI will not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or completeness of any information that is available through this web site. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them. The information available through the website and our partner publications is for your general information and use and is not intended to address any particular finance or investment requirements. In particular, the information does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us or any of our partner publications and is not intended to be relied upon by users in making or refraining from making any investment or financial decisions. Appropriate independent advice should be obtained before making any such decision. Any arrangement made between you and any third party named in the site is at your sole risk and responsibility.

News - 30 percent of small businesses plan to secure new finance in 2024 - Access to cash proposals a good starting point but need to be more ambitious, say small firms 6. Commitbiz LLC: Company Formation Experts of the Year 2023 - UAE 7. Zielke Research Consult GmbH: Best Financial & ESG Analysis Consultancy 2023 - Germany 8. Waha Capital: Private Sector Investment House of the Year 2023 – UAE & Best Absolute Return Long/Short Emerging Markets Credit Fund 2023 (CEEMEA): Waha EM Credit Fund 9. Over 11m financially vulnerable people reliant on loans to survive whilst access to credit plummets 10. Half of UK businesses expect 2024 to be easier than 2023 - but financial blind spots remain Contents

30 percent of small businesses plan to secure new finance in 2024 NEWS • 76% of small businesses in profit • 32% of those seeking new finance need it to support cashflow • Personal guarantee insurance can provide peace of mind for small business owners A survey on the state of small business finances by Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance[i] has uncovered that despite a turbulent year in 2023 with high inflation and geopolitical unrest knocking consumer confidence, almost a third of small businesses - 31% - are making a good profit and 45% are in profit by a small margin. 18% say they are just breaking even. 30% of the small business directors and owners said they plan to seek secure new finance for their business in 2024 and 32% of those seeking finance will need it to support cashflow rather than for investment in business equipment or growth. While this means that almost a third of the businesses surveyed need cash to just keep their business ticking over, this is down from 53% in 2023. Meanwhile, just 16% of business owners have had to take on a personal debt to fund their business. Again, this is a fall by more than half on the same survey in 2023. The fact that many UK small businesses do not plan to take on additional debt this year will be a relief to many as interest rates are set to remain high for longer to help bring inflation under control, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility[ii]. Comments Todd Davison, MD of Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance: “Small businesses need to remain vigilant and resilient, especially heading into an election year which can throw unexpected curveballs as policy shifts can lead to economic uncertainty. Add to this the National Living Wage increase[iii] coming into force from April adding £1800 to a fulltime worker’s salary, and business owners should always be flexible, prepared for potential change and how it might impact business costs. “Despite less than a third of business owners saying they will source new finance this year, all businesses should keep abreast of funding options should their position change. When securing a new personal guarantee backed loan, it is always advisable to secure personal guarantee insurance, meaning the business owners’ and directors’ personal finances won’t be at risk in the unfortunate situation of a business failure.”

Access to cash proposals a good starting point but need to be more ambitious, say small firms NEWS Proposals from a financial services watchdog to protect and widen access to cash are a “good start but could go further”. That is the view of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which has responded to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s consultation on access to cash, closing today. The FCA was given the task in the Financial Services and Markets Act from last year of “seeking to ensure reasonable provision” of cash deposit and withdrawal facilities, for business and personal customers. The FCA’s proposals include*: • Developing a more comprehensive cash assessment process that is more responsive to a wider range of local needs • Publishing assessment outcomes and making processes transparent • Responding to a wider range of trigger events to undertake a cash assessment in a local area • Meeting set timeframes for delivery of additional cash access services identified by cash access assessments. This will prevent unreasonable delays, reducing the cost burden on consumers and businesses that can arise from limited access to cash in their local area. • FSB supports these proposals, but believes they do not go far enough in maintaining small firms’ freedom to choose cash as a form of payment, which we see as inseparable from the broader cash services ecosystem. For example, FSB believes that the proposals do not adequately address the ongoing decline in cash access infrastructure, with bank branch closures continuing at an alarming rate, and a shrinking and increasingly fragile free-to-use ATM network. The consultation also overlooks essential services such as local cash deposit facilities for small business owners, and assisted cash services that offer personal interaction. Moreover, the FCA’s proposed cash access request scheme is insufficient, as it puts businesses’ and consumers’ concerns effectively as a last resort and is unlikely to stem the tide of bank closures and the decline in cash infrastructure. To strengthen the FCA’s proposals, FSB is calling for: • The FCA to broaden its focus beyond ATMs to include comprehensive support for cash deposit services and face-to-face assistance • FCA powers to be leveraged to expedite the development of banking hubs, ensuring they include SME banking and deposit services. Despite the partnership with cashpoint provider LINK identifying the need for over a hundred hubs, progress has been slow, with only 33 opened so far • Efforts to maintain consumer cash withdrawal access to consider as well the necessity of local cash management infrastructure for SMEs to offer cash payment options. Cash infrastructure should be considered a public good, meaning that concerns about competition sensitivities do not fully apply. Banks must be held to higher standards when considering the impact of their closures on access to cash. Martin McTague, FSB’s National Chair, said: “A small business must be free to choose which payment options it wishes to accept, including cash. To enable this, it’s vital for the infrastructure required for cash to remain available in all areas. “Cash access is too important to be left to innumerable individual commercial decisions which, taken together, represent a significant threat to people and businesses’ ability to withdraw, process and deposit cash. “The FCA’s consultation rightly recognises this – it’s a good start, but could go further. “We’re concerned that the FCA’s proposals won’t be enough to pause the trend seen in recent years towards fewer free cashpoints and bank branches. “Cash is vital as a competitor to other forms of payment, and as a payment option when digital systems go down, or in areas with poor reception. Many vulnerable groups, from elderly people to those fleeing domestic violence, rely on being able to use cash, and it is also a key payment method for many visitors to the UK who are wary of high bank fees when paying by card. “Now is the time for the FCA to shore up and defend a flexible payments ecosystem which can not only support small businesses and vulnerable communities with cash, but can also help to prepare the infrastructure for a diverse range of payment options, including a digital currency. “The proposals should look to the future, too. Banking hubs and other solutions to access to cash may well also be the best opportunities for building digital currency infrastructure in the future. “As a country, we need a flexible and diverse payments ecosystem that is ready for changing consumer behaviour and needs. “The FCA should work with the Treasury to safeguard the cash ecosystem, taking a more holistic and comprehensive view of the issue. Now is the time to be ambitious, in order to build the payments infrastructure needed by small businesses and consumers now and into the future.”

6. Q1 2024 Wealth & Finance Company Formation Experts of the Year 2023 - UAE Based in the UAE, Commitbiz specialises in a diverse range of services with a focus on business consulting and incorporation. Its expertise lies in the company’s ability to work across various industries and cater to a wide range of clients. Its clients include entrepreneurs, renowned enterprises, and startups seeking to expand their presence in the UAE and other GCC nations. Commitbiz offers services across nearly all UAE jurisdictions, ensuring clients can choose a location that meets their business needs. Beyond these regions, the company has expanded its focus to encompass other jurisdictions, providing clients with a seamless experience. Through its comprehensive offerings, Commitbiz aims to be a one-stop solution, providing businesses with reliable support to start, expand, and relocate their organisations. Core values of integrity, innovation, and transparency are the cornerstones of the company. Its experienced team is dedicated to delivering accurate information about business setup in UAE to make clients’ journeys as smooth as possible. In the ever-evolving business landscape, Commitbiz integrates creativity into its approach to develop new ways of supporting clients. As its consultants guide clients through the process, they incorporate pioneering strategies to help them improve their business performance. By remaining steadfast in its core values, Commitbiz fosters relationships based on trust, reliability, and a shared commitment to success. As an innovative company, Commitbiz aims to stay abreast of changing industry dynamics in order to offer high-quality services. This commitment is demonstrated through the company’s approach to continuous development and technological innovation. By embracing a proactive stance, Commitbiz can provide clients with the latest insights and guidance to help them easily navigate the regulatory landscape. As an industry leader, the consultancy uses its extensive network and industry expertise to anticipate changes and create cuttingedge solutions. Through best practices and pioneering strategies, Commitbiz will continue to enhance its approach to meet the evolving demands of its clients. Digitisation is a pivotal focus for the company, and it actively engages with this paradigm shift in the industry. Recognising the importance of aligning with larger industry changes, it considers digitisation an area of interest and a fundamental aspect of its service delivery. Commitbiz is actively introducing electronic documentation and digital processes to support the government’s push towards a digital nation. This strategic alignment with the government’s digital initiatives ensures its relevance in the evolving industry landscape and positions us as advocates for progress. While acknowledging the comprehensive nature of this transformation, the team is dedicated to navigating this journey in collaboration with the government and its clients, fostering a digitally empowered and forward-looking business environment. Looking to the future, Commitbiz aims to expand its operations with more branches across the UAE. This expansion will enable the consultancy to offer tailored services to clients in their respective regions. By establishing itself in different countries, Commitbiz aims to enhance its agility and ability to provide hands-on support. In addition to expansion, the business will continue to invest in technological advancements to meet the evolving demands of the industry. It is Commitbiz’s mission to become a onestop solution for businesses from diverse sectors as they navigate challenges during the process of business setup in Dubai, UAE. Through its innovative approach to technical advancement and digitalisation, the company is dedicated to creating pioneering solutions to address clients’ unique needs. Moving forward, Commitbiz will continue to grow its global network to become a consulting leader for businesses worldwide. For its comprehensive solutions, Commitbiz LLC has received our award for Company Formation Experts of the Year 2023 – UAE. Company: Commitbiz LLC Web Address: https://www.commitbiz.com/ Commitbiz LLC, established in 2007, provides first-class management advisory services to the non-government and private sectors. Over the years, the consultancy has emerged as a trusted partner, helping leaders make significant and long-lasting contributions to the performance of their companies. Commitbiz is uniquely positioned to tackle clients’ most challenging and complex issues with comprehensive solutions tailored to their organisation’s individual needs. We have bestowed Commitbiz with a Management Consulting Award for its innovative approach and perseverance.

Q1 2024 Wealth & Finance 7. Dec23173 Best Financial & ESG Analysis Consultancy 2023 - Germany Specialising in the analysis of varying financial institutions’ sustainability and solvency reports, in addition to delivering advice on how to improve them, Zielke Research Consult is an entity who’s truly there to help. Set on assisting asset managers in complying with the requirements of insurance companies, primarily within Germany, the collective has amassed quite the reputation for making the lives of financial and ESG businesses as straightforward as possible. Below, we explore how. Promising stellar advice, no matter how in-depth it may need to be, Zielke Research Consult is an analysis consultancy that triumphs in the world of financial and ESG analysis. From assisting with certifying insurance products and investment funds according to the latest EU taxonomy regulations and the new DIN-sustainability score for financial products, to advising interested parties and governing bodies on the reporting framework for both financial and sustainability reporting, the firm looks to streamline an otherwise complicated process. Placing an immense value on the objectiveness of its analytical approach, Zielke Research Consult has managed to compile a full, transparent methodology that’s readily available to each and every individual that seeks to enlist its help. After all, its mission is to help financial institutions in offering sustainable investments to their retail clients in ways that are both straightforward and traceable. This viewable nature therefore grants every necessary party access to crucial information, never once hiding any detail in the process. However, what really helps Zielke Research Consult to stand apart from its competitors is the way in which is adapts to encourage a certain closeness between clients and both the regulators and standard setters. Additionally, it promises a flexibility that assists individuals in matching the everevolving pace of the market. The regulatory environment is one of the most rapidly fluctuating ones present within today’s sphere, and clients are valuing adaptability more than ever before. Luckily, Zielke Research Consult has upheld this quality since its inception, making it a master of the craft in its own right. Being a firm so committed to evolution, it comes as no surprise to learn that Zielke Research Consult has some exciting projects in the works for the coming year. Though, in the long run, it would like to extend its services to corporates with additional assistance from its new database, Zielke Research Consult has a present focus on first developing various algorithms that incorporate artificial intelligence into their cores. In order to obtain high quality and traceable data, especially considering the predicted development in ESG data that’s set to emerge due to the new European Sustainable Reporting Standards, there’s a resounding need for such development. It just so happens that Zielke Research Consult is spearheading the charge. We’re eager to see Zielke Research Consult’s plans come to fruition as we continue into 2024. There are various factors that are incredibly enticing, and we’re certain that, given its past experience in the field, it’s geared up to continue leading the way forward as the industry evolves. Providing comprehensive consultancy services within the world of ESG and financial analysis is where Zielke Research Consult truly thrives, and it has yet to slow its pace in its pursuit of utter brilliance. Contact: Carsten Zielke Company: Zielke Research Consult GmbH Web Address: https://www.zielke-rc.eu/ zielke research consult

8. Q1 2024 Wealth & Finance Aug23148 Private Sector Investment House of the Year 2023 – UAE & Best Absolute Return Long/Short Emerging Markets Credit Fund 2023 (CEEMEA): Waha EM Credit Fund Emerging market funds can be a high risk high reward type of investment. However, with an experienced team of fund managers to help reduce risks with specialised foresight and highly intuitive support, emerging market funds can be the answer we may be looking for – especially when it comes to diversifying our portfolios. Waha Capital was founded in 1997, in Abu Dhabi, as a listed investment management business which helps shareholders and investors to receive excellent returns from its three separate funds: Waha EM Credit, Waha MENA Equity, and Waha Islamic Income. Waha Capital’s funds are steeped in a rich wealth of experience. Leveraging its emerging markets expertise, business networks, and research capabilities, to serve its many clients, Waha Capital has established a strong foothold in the industry. This has ultimately propelled it to the forefront as the Private Sector Investment House of the Year 2023 – UAE. The firm’s core values are the backbone of its operations. Waha Capital prioritises collaboration, accountability, ambition, integrity, and a performance-driven approach to every fund it presents. Of course, keeping its cultures and values in mind throughout everything the business does, Waha Capital ensures that its work is always in line with premium industry standards – as well as governance standards. Waha Capital promises a brighter future with its comprehensive resources, composed and informed nature, and top-quality team who guarantee fruitful investments across all of its emerging market funds. Specifically, Waha Capital’s Waha EM Credit Fund, which was established in 2012, has the longest track record at the company. Over the years the fund’s performance has been continually sturdy, increasing its total return to 204.8% since its beginning to this day. With over 669M USD in assets under management and a team of highly skilled individuals managing the fund, Waha Capital has been awarded with a second accolade in our Fund Awards 2023. Bestowed with Best Absolute Return Long/ Short Emerging Markets Credit Fund 2023 (CEEMEA): Waha EM Credit Fund the business has much to celebrate. Now, in 2024, Waha Capital is continuing to grow and support investors everywhere. The future is looking particularly bright for the business, and its connections. In addition, holding its vision high, Waha Capital now aims to be a key player on a global scale. The team is always looking for new opportunities by keeping their fingers on the pulse of the markets around the world, staying informed, and delivering steady, sustainable returns for each shareholder and investor. Working with the award-winning Waha Capital is an opportunity not to be missed – please visit its website for more information and statistics. Contact: Ameera Khalid Company: Waha Capital Web Address: www.wahacapital.com/ Depending on the infrastructures and economies of emerging markets, or countries, we can find ways to invest in different credit funds as fantastic avenues to explore for absolute returns on investments. Waha Capital was created by a team of specialists looking to help others amplify and secure their wealth through long/short investment strategies. Here we learn more about Waha Capital’s commitment to delivering excellent returns on investments as we unveil its two titles in our Fund Awards 2023. Waha Capital

Q1 2024 Wealth & Finance 9. Over 11m financially vulnerable people reliant on loans to survive whilst access to credit plummets 11.5 million, or four in ten (39%), financially vulnerable people*, have no option but to turn to credit to afford everyday expenses – over double the UK average (15%) finds research from AI powered transaction analytics firm, Fuse. Three in ten (28%) also say that they are reliant on credit to pay for their mortgage or rent – again, over double the UK average (12%). With rent prices predicted to rise yet again by another 6%, and 1.6 million people’s fixed rate mortgage deals expiring in the next 12 months, many will see their monthly repayments rise. UK Finance has also predicted that UK lending for house purchases will drop by 8% and that more people will accrue arrears in 2024. Despite rising numbers of people forced to turn to credit to meet rent or mortgage costs, Fuse’s research shows that access to credit options is declining at a time when people, especially financially vulnerable people, are most in need. 40% of financially vulnerable people say that their access to credit has worsened since the pandemic, and even more worryingly, over a third (35%) say that they are now struggling to access the vital credit products that they need in order to survive – compared to an average of 14% across the UK. Reduced access to credit has forced many to fall back on their savings pots to get through the expensive winter months – four in ten (36%) financially vulnerable are reliant on savings to pay for everyday expenses. Though the FCA’s Consumer Duty rules were introduced in mid-2023 to ensure improved financial outcomes for consumers, one in five (19%) believe that their bank is responsible for getting them into debt. This has prompted calls for lenders to offer more effective support to borrowers. Enhancing affordability measures by utilising enhanced insights and data can help lenders predict changes in affordability, probability of default, and even financial vulnerability levels before they occur – this is a key step in protecting borrowers and offering more personalised and affordable products. Sho Sugihara, CEO and Co-Founder of Fuse, comments: “We are living in an increasingly volatile economic climate and the financially vulnerable are in danger of being left behind as the UK’s financial gap continues to widen. Many people are solely reliant on credit to pay for everyday expenses and in some cases, keep a roof over their heads. However, it is hugely concerning that access to affordable credit options is plummeting at the exact moment when reliance on credit is spiking. “The entire financial sector, not just banks, could be doing more to protect borrowers - but there needs to be better support solutions. Embracing • Four in ten (39%) financially vulnerable people are forced to turn to credit to pay everyday expenses – over double the UK average (15%). • However, over a third (35%) of financially vulnerable people struggle to access the credit they need to pay for essential costs and 40% say that their access to credit has worsened since the pandemic. • One in five of these people (19%) say that banks are currently to blame and are responsible for getting them into debt. technology and AI-led insights assists lenders during affordability testing to ensure not only more accurate credit decisions but also more personalised, effective support solutions - a vital step in creating a more inclusive financial system with improved outcomes, especially for financially vulnerable borrowers.” Products, such as Fuse’s Health Signals, have been designed to support lenders meet the Consumer Duty requirements and provide risk and compliance teams with greater insights into areas of vulnerability as well as predict arrears risk and monitor the impact of financial products on their customers. Fuse is the latest product from credit builder app, Pave. Since launch, Pave has analysed more than 150,000 lending decisions, 1.5 million consumer credit reports, and over 400 million Open Banking transactions. Pave seeks to bring more financial equality to millions across the UK. As a fully regulated credit builder, receiving nearly half a million downloads to date, Pave utilises Open Banking transactions to help consumers build better access to credit.

Nov22526 Q1 2024 Wealth & Finance Jul23111 Half of UK businesses expect 2024 to be easier than 2023 - but financial blind spots remain UK businesses are hopeful for 2024 according to new research from Pleo - one of Europe’s leading spend management platforms. The CFO’s Playbook for 2024, which polled over +500 UK financial decision makers, found that almost 50% of UK businesses believe 2024 will be “easier” than 2023 (vs. 35% believing it will be harder and 15% anticipating that it will be the same as last year). As such, with a waning concern around inflation - a 20% decrease since 2023 - businesses are targeting more ambitious goals. Nearly three quarters are prioritising cash growth, and while this was also the primary objective of businesses last year, findings show a 163% increase in British businesses focussed on this ambition. Other targets last year included ‘improve efficiencies’ (24%), which has become an increased priority in 2024 - with over half of businesses (55%) reporting it as a key ambition - and ‘stabilise the company’ (22%), which has been replaced by ‘grow talent’ (38%) in 2024. Financial health and spend visibility stand in the way of business growth With so many businesses focusing on cash growth this year, 1 in 4 UK businesses are looking to reduce spending. It is interesting to note that while businesses are keen to address a decrease in spend, only a third feel they have an excellent grip on managing it. A compounding impact is that just 28% feel they have a firm grasp on their financial health and performance, falling to just 13% for those businesses with 250-499 employees. One factor playing a significant role in this lack of visibility and confidence in spend management is the way many define expenses. Almost half (47%) of UK businesses believe that expenses and spend are different, but only 24% have clear guidelines for their finance teams on how they differ. As a result, finance teams are currently leaving what is and isn’t recorded in terms of business spending to chance. In fact, findings show that more than half of UK businesses admit to not accurately tracking items into their spend management strategy until they exceed £10,000. Thorbjørn Fink, COO of Pleo says: “For businesses to meet their revenue growth and saving goals of 2024, they need to ensure they have full visibility and insights into all outgoings. When there is real pressure on financial growth, companies can no longer afford to silo their outgoings into expenses (e.g. low-cost items such as coffees, lunches, subscriptions) and spend (e.g. LinkedIn ads, business travel, office rent). Choosing to ignore low-cost items means CFOs are needlessly putting blinkers on and, in the process, only getting half of the spend management picture.” Consolidating costs may hit workers hard Keeping a tighter rein on spending means deeper insights and fewer spend duplications. But it also reduces the need for radical strategies to cut costs. While 21% of businesses are investing in renewable energy to reduce energy bills - the primary threat (24%) to businesses in 2024 - a significant proportion are reviewing salaries. For instance, the research revealed that 1 in 5 UK businesses are considering reducing pay for remote workers - a decision that can potentially hit 16% of the UK workforce. Additionally, 41% of businesses are hauling employees back to the office, with the most common reason behind this being “other companies are doing the same” (30%), followed by using performance-based insights and staff feedback (both 29%). Despite this, staff numbers will remain buoyant in 2024. Only a quarter (25%) believe they will have to let staff go in 2024 - improving significantly from last year, where 42% of businesses were making staff cuts - while the data notes a 27% increase in the viability of hiring. • Almost 50% of UK businesses believe this year will be easier than 2023 • 71% of UK companies to prioritise revenue growth (up from 27% in 2023), yet concerns about running costs and visibility of financial performance remain • 1 in 4 SMEs to reduce spending, with 1 in 5 looking to reduce remote employee wages to reach goals


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