Sami Rashed Farhat, General Manager
Sami Rashed Farhat, General Manager

InvestBank, founded 36 years ago, has positioned itself as a boutique bank offering tailor-made products and services to its customers. “We build long-term relationships with our clients and partners and aspire to be the bank of choice for all our customers,” explains General Manager Sami Rashed Farhat.

InvestBank’s goals for 2012 are to continue to preserve its capital, achieve steady growth and further reinforce its risk mitigation and management. InvestBank provides a wide range of corporate and retail banking services but its focus is on project and trade financing geared to each individual client’s needs.

The bank’s competitive edge comes from many factors, including its small size, which allows for more personalised services; its strong but flexible operating principles; and its very customer-focused, open-door approach. “Establishing mutual trust with our board, customers and staff is our mission. We are not a fair-weather friend; we are an all-weather friend,” Sami Rashed Farhat says.

Capital-adequacy ratio among UAE’s strongest

InvestBank has a stellar track record, having grown from its initial capital of less than €2.44 million (US$3 million) to reach around €285.3 million (US$350 million) today, with around €449.3 million (US$550 million) in shareholder funds. Sami Rashed Farhat says, “Our capital-adequacy ratios are among the best in the UAE’s banking sector, averaging 24.6% over the past four years with an average tier-one ratio of 20.6%. InvestBank has been a net lender in the market for over two decades with an average liquid-asset ratio of over 23% throughout the global liquidity crunch. In the same period, our average loan-to-deposit ratio was 97%.” With an average income-to-revenue ratio of 20.45% and an average return on assets of 2.25%, Invest Bank has delivered value to its shareholders. The bank’s average return on capital is 19.73% with an 11.43% return on total equity.

Proactive approach to crisis

Unlike many other UAE banks, InvestBank’s rating remained unchanged throughout the global crisis and was recently upgraded. Sami Rashed Farhat praises the UAE’s federal and local governments, with which InvestBank enjoys excellent relations, as well as the central bank for their proactive approach and willingness to implement new regulations to cope with the crisis.

In fact, the UAE was the first country in the region to offer deposit guarantees when the crisis began to develop. Sami Rashed Farhat explains, “Rules and regulations are being constantly reviewed and updated to meet future challenges. We have full confidence in the government’s fiscal-management abilities. The reform process is not a hurdle for InvestBank. We are content with our slow and steady progress.” He adds that InvestBank’s board of directors favours a ‘small is beautiful’ approach which avoids shortcuts and unwarranted risks.

Sami Rashed Farhat advises potential investors to look into opportunities in the UAE, where they will find vast potential in all sectors. He says, “The UAE is the 2nd largest regional economy and the most stable country in the region, with visionary and progressive leadership. Having the largest number of free zones to cater to everyone’s needs is one of the reasons why global corporations have their regional bases here. It also has the best infrastructure in place to support any and all businesses. It has investor-friendly rules and regulations and is strategically located to serve as a gateway to Asia and the Arab world, and offers an excellent blend of tradition and progress.”