Press release

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Deloitte: Banks in the Middle East seize opportunities for global expansion

Press release

6 August 2014 - World trade flows, increased gross domestic product (GDP), a growing middle class and new technologies will help banks based in emerging markets expand into developed markets in the coming year. According to Deloitte’s latest report “Banking across borders: International expansion opportunities for emerging markets-based banks”, these banks which have the experience of operating in volatile markets, combined with their knowledge of how to reach unbanked and under banked population, are better positioned to achieve a successful expansion to developed and other emerging markets.

“The banking systems in the Middle East and many emerging markets, which were less exposed to the complex and toxic products and therefore less impacted by the financial crisis of 2008, benefited from opportunities in their domestic markets and have grown their operations and expanded locally thus resulting in stronger balance sheets and larger capital base,” said Joe El Fadl, Partner and financial services industry leader at Deloitte Middle East.

“This relative domestic expansion and growing means allow these banks to invest in growth opportunities Moreover, many of the large banks are considering to leverage their strengths and relative efficiency in their operating model by looking to opportunities of expansion into new markets.”

The Deloitte report also outlines the steps that these banks will need to take in order to expand internationally. This includes factoring in readiness for expansion, lessons learned from expansion from previous decades and potential challenges such as language, culture, talent, regulation, and capital needed to extend their brands into new markets.

According to the Deloitte report, over the last several decades, emerging markets-based banks have followed different paths in expanding their reach around the world. Many Banks have looked to the Middle East region as the next frontier, due to its proximity to the Asian markets, and its untapped potential, as foreign banks had minimal presence in the region at that time. In fact, the World Bank notes that acquisitions from emerging markets are on the rise, projecting the annual value of cross- border M&A transactions to double by 2025, outpacing the underlying GDP growth rates in emerging-market firms’ home countries.[1]

“Even though Emerging markets-based banks still have domestic expansion opportunities and growing market needs for innovative banking products and services, they are also looking for expansion beyond national borders as their customers expand into new markets and their citizens immigrate to new countries,” added El Fadl.

Today, emerging markets and developed markets each account for half of the world’s GDP.[2] However, in the future, the report projects emerging markets to account for more of the global GDP with developed markets accounting for less. Additionally, according to the Fortune Global 500 list the number of North American and European financial services firms on their list has declined, while the number of those based in Asia, Central and Latin America has risen.[3]

According to Deloitte’s report “Banking across borders: International expansion opportunities for emerging markets-based banks”, the key steps emerging markets-based banks can take toward expansion into developed and developing markets, while assessing their readiness along the way, include:

  • Strategy: Understand what market segments to pursue. According to a recent study published by the World Economic Forum, three areas afford the greatest opportunities in emerging markets – consumer financial services, small and medium enterprises, and corporate.[4]
  • Execution: After defining a clear strategy for international expansion, emerging markets-based banks should focus on how they intend to implement their plans.
  • Infrastructure: Have adequate technology and business systems. In some emerging markets, infrastructure resources — ranging from reliable transportation to sources of electricity — are scarce or limited.
  • Talent: Human resources is one of the most critical resources that emerging markets-based banks will need when expanding: people who understand the culture, language, and business practices in emerging markets. A bank with a reputation for growth and the ability to offer international assignments is more likely to attract top talent within their domestic markets as well.
  • Regulation: Understand the nuances of local regulatory regime, develop relationships with local regulators, and have detailed knowledge of local regulations. Banks that expanded abroad three and four decades ago did not face the level of regulatory scrutiny that banks today face.

To view the whole report, go to:

Press contact
Nadine El Hassan
Middle East Public Relations
Deloitte & Touche (M.E.)
Tel: +961 (0) 1 748444
Fax: +961 (0) 1 748999


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About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities.  DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients.  Please see for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms.  

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s more than 200,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

About Deloitte & Touche (M.E.)

Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence since 1926.

Deloitte is among the region’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 26 offices in 15 countries with more than 3,000 partners, directors and staff. It is a Tier 1 Tax advisor in the GCC region since 2010 (according to the International Tax Review World Tax Rankings). It has received numerous awards in the last few years which include Best Employer in the Middle East, best consulting firm, and the Middle East Training & Development Excellence Award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

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