Company Profiles

Fast-Moving GSB Flags Big Ambitions

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 29 January 2024

Fast-Moving GSB Flags Big Ambitions

We talk to a wealth management firm, based in Dubai, which is expanding into markets including the UK. It says it is challenging what it sees as outmoded business models.

When GSB Capital (GSB) secured CISI Chartered Firm status just over a week ago, it added to a string of developments in Dubai and the UK that are putting this young firm on the map. 

GSB, founded two years ago, has been ramping up business in the DIFC. In September 2022, it also achieved a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) licence to be directly authorised in the UK. It has about $4-5 billion in advisory assets and close to $1 billion under management.

“We focus on driving the correct behaviours, clients being at the centre of everything, acting as their trusted advisor, nurturing a culture-first approach within the business, this leads to the best outcomes for clients, GSB and our community,” founding partner Ross Whatnall told this publication in an interview. “In Dubai, we’re seeing a huge influx of high net worth and ultra-HNW western expats, looking for a better lifestyle, more tax-friendly, progressive government and a safer environment for their families. For us, it is a brilliant market.”

Whatnall, who has worked in banking in the UK, and in advisory firms in the Gulf, founded the firm in 2021. GSB provides wealth management, financial planning, asset financing, personal/corporate lending, private client structuring, multi-family office and a capital markets proposition encompassing private equity, venture capital, M&A, pre-listing funding, IPO, corporate finance, corporate advisory, and private fundraising.

Whatnall said his time in advisory firms in the Gulf prior to GSB made him realise that the old business models, with their high fees and sales-driven culture, had significant drawbacks. “I realised that every firm in the Middle East had the same archaic model.”

A big theme for Whatnall is alignment and independence. He and his wife, Alison Whatnall, have “never been precious about equity in the business.” He operates a partner programme so that advisors obtain equity in the firm. “We have created an infrastructure so that all the red lines are set in place,” he said. 

GSB charges a maximum up-front fee of 3 per cent up to $1 million (the average wealth of a client is about $2 million in assets under management). The firm charges an explicit ongoing fee based on AuM, capped at 1 per cent. The minimum client size by AuM is $500,000.

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