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SunGard Identifies Ten Trends Impacting Financial Services in the Middle East

“Increasing compliance and transparency requirements in the Middle East and around the world have brought new complexities and exciting opportunities for the region’s investors and the financial services firms that serve them. The face of financial services in the region is changing, bringing with it a growing population of high net worth individuals demanding greater personalization of their banking experience and increased access to trading opportunities around the world. Middle Eastern corporations are also preparing to capitalize on the opportunities open to them in the wake of the global financial crisis,” said Wissam Khoury, managing director, SunGard Financial Systems, Middle East, ahead of SunGard’s City Day conference in Dubai, UAE.

The ten trends SunGard has identified as shaping the finance industry in the Middle East are:

1. The emerging role of the corporate treasurer is becoming increasingly central for companies based in the Middle East as they focus on the efficiencies a centralized treasury system can provide.

2. Spreadsheets and manual processes will be replaced in corporations as they increasingly use efficient cash management practices and cash flow forecasting methods to modernize their treasury management.

3. As corporations in the Middle East continue to experience global expansion, centralization and automation of treasury functions will emerge to facilitate that growth.

4. With investment flows from overseas participants increasing, trading firms in the Middle East will look to best-of-breed international trading platforms for efficient, cross-asset and multi- currency order management and execution to service this demand.

5. There is growing demand from the region to find new business opportunities for trading globally, putting increasing focus on brokers’ ability to access worldwide trading networks.

6. As capital markets activity accelerates, local exchanges will introduce new instruments and more brokerages will apply for market-making licenses, driving interest in front-to-back trading solutions and risk management platforms.

7. The impact of macro-prudential regulations around the world, including Basel III, will drive Middle Eastern banks to focus on balance sheet management and careful analysis of credit risks.

8. As banks in the Middle East continue to develop their operations, they will increasingly strive to automate their reconciliation function to help increase efficiency and provide greater transparency and control.

9. In order to help attract new business and stay competitive, banks will need to adapt to the way their personal and business customers are behaving by embracing mobile channels including social media in order to reach and engage their audience.

10. Bank treasuries will need to cover a broad range of asset classes so they can extend the services offered to customers, provide a complete and accurate view of enterprise-wide risk and deliver these services in a cost-effective manner.

Peter Farley, managing director, EMEA, IDC Financial Insights, said, "The region has seen many dramatic changes over the last twelve months – both political and economic – and these have resulted in a re-thinking and consolidating of activities in the finance industry. Significant opportunities exist for Middle Eastern based companies to capitalize on the global interest shown in the region and the increasing sophistication of the local population in managing their financial assets. Companies that are delivering transparency to internal and external stakeholders, increasing efficiency for cost management and leveraging networks for growth will be the ones that benefit most from these trends.”