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Women take lead in family finances, says UAE expat survey

Poll of relatively affluent UAE expats finds more women claim primary control of household banking

Ben Flanagan

Published: Updated:

Expat women in the UAE take more responsibility for family finances than men, according to survey by a regional web forum.

More than 34 percent of women said they take primary responsibility for banking in their households, compared to 30.6 percent of men, according to the poll by Expatwoman.com.

A total of 31 percent of women said they had joint responsibility for family banking with their partners, the survey found.

“We know that the expat women in the region are very independent, they’re very savvy,” said Gail Livingstone, general manager of Expatwoman.com.

“A lot of women are getting married later in life, so have to be more financially aware of what’s going on, and in control of their own finances.”

The survey questioned 500 women based in the UAE about their banking habits, with the results skewed towards the “relatively affluent” users of the Expatwoman.com site.

Local banks ranked as the most popular among those surveyed. Just one global name made the top five, with 22.2 percent of those questioned saying they bank with HSBC.

Emirates NBD was named the most popular among the expat women, with 30.6 percent saying that was their primary bank used in the UAE.

More women are leaving international banks than the local lenders, the survey said. HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered were among the top-five banks that customers said they left to open accounts with other lenders.

“It shows the strength of the local banks that people are not necessarily plumping for international ones,” Livingstone said.

The main reason for switching banks was dissatisfaction with customer service, a reason cited by 40.9 percent of respondents.

Despite that, levels of satisfaction with banks were found to be relatively high among UAE expat women.

“We tend to hear people complaining about banks… But generally, people are actually quite happy and satisfied about the service they are getting. So that was quite a surprise,” Livingstone said.

“50 percent of people rated their overall satisfaction with the bank as 7 or 8 [out of 10].”