While naturally there are incremental increases to any reputable Lebanese financial service business, 2014 did not see any developments out of the ordinary. The lack of real activity on the capital market front in Lebanon remains a barrier for the financial service industry to properly flourish, though the efforts of the Capital Markets Authority since 2011 to establish better regulatory oversight over markets in Lebanon brings a small degree of hope, despite the infamous slow pace of developments of the country.
A wish list for 2015 would definitely include flourishing capital markets at the very top. In our report, Chadia El Meouchi and Carine Farran from Badri and Salim el Meouchi Law Firm explain the steps a company would have to take if it were to undertake an initial public offering (IPO) — a rare instance in Lebanon, but certainly something that the Lebanese financial professional crowd hopes to see more frequently.
Another wish list item, as posited by Camille Moussa, director of Executive Education at École Supérieure des Affaires, is having a greater choice of financial products for small investors. In his comment piece, he argues that while many products exist for the high-net worth population, average people with a hankering to save are hindered when it comes to investing due to the lack of offerings to meet their investment appetite.
Lebanon still has a long way to go in terms of developing its financial services industry, and the picture only gets slightly better from a regional perspective. While Dubai may have a comparatively thriving stock exchange, Daniel Diemers, Abdulkader Lamaa and Jihad K. Khalil, respectively partner, principal, and senior associate at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), argue that the Middle East still has a lot of work to do in terms of getting its wealth management businesses up to scratch when it comes to technological savvyness.
Despite the usual suspects in terms of barriers, it is very much possible to run a serious business in the financial sector in Lebanon. In a Q&A with Romen Mathieu, managing director of the EuroMena Funds at Capital Trust Group and Gilles de Clerck, executive director of the EuroMena Funds at Capital Trust Group, the pair talk about their experience in running successive private equity funds out of Lebanon.