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Adel Merheb is the co-founder of TradeYourMarket.com, which offers most of its investment advice on a pay-per-view basis. Razan Alzayani / The National
Adel Merheb is the co-founder of TradeYourMarket.com, which offers most of its investment advice on a pay-per-view basis. Razan Alzayani / The National

Equity research made simple

The Life: When his employer shrunk the stocks research department, equities analyst Adel Merheb founded an advisory company of his own.

When Shuaa Capital, the Dubai-based investment bank, shrunk its research department at the start of this year, the devotees of Adel Merheb's equity analysis rang to ask why his daily notes had disappeared.

This gave validation to an idea that Mr Merheb had been harbouring for a while: to start his own independent advisory service, catering not just to institutional investors but also to retail investors - individuals buying and selling for themselves, not for companies.

By his reckoning, investment banks were missing a trick by not providing for the retail segment of the market in the region.

Unlike the more established markets in the United States and Europe that are driven by institutional investors and insurance funds, many Arabian Gulf markets are dominated by retail investors. This includes the Saudi exchange, the Tadawul, the largest in the Arab world. "I saw an opportunity even the banks were not taking advantage of," Mr Merheb explains.

"I thought why not bring that level of quality, sophisticated research and give it to the average retail investor in an easy-to-understand format. It didn't have to be something so fancy [just] a simple online platform where people on a daily basis could get ideas and research them and make their own decisions."

After a brief spell in the credit department, Mr Merheb left Shuaa in April and founded TradeYourMarket.com with his business partner, Ziad Masri.

Unlike many investment advice sites that try to attract as much traffic as possible to make money from advertising, TradeYouMarket.com operates on a different model. Some research is available for free but the bulk of the analysis is behind a paywall.

Lebanese by birth, Mr Merheb worked for financial institutions in Kuwait and the UAE for nine years before setting up on his own, writing mainly technical analysis. This is the study of historical price patterns of stocks to potentially forecast future prices.

TradeYourMarket.com provides what is known as dynamic research - technical analysis of stocks within a macroeconomic context - covering three markets: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.

"You don't look at a stock or a company in and by itself but in the context of what goes on the market and in the global markets as well," Mr Merheb says.

His research notes are a page in length at most: straight and to the point.

"We typically put out between four of five notes a day; 30 per cent is free and 70 per cent is premium stuff," he says. "The premium stuff is more action based [saying], 'This is what we recommend'."

The free material also allows readers to gauge the value of the research allowing them to compare a stance taken perhaps two weeks previously with the where the market is now.

Mr Merheb is also developing the institutional side of his business, approaching large institutions suggesting that they can outsource their research to TradeYourMarket.com for a fraction of the cost it would to produce in-house.

After initially launching in English, most of the research will now be issued in Arabic too.

"In the UAE, most of the banks focus on English; their institutional clients are more than comfortable getting research in English," he says. But in the retail market, "lots of these guys would prefer to read in Arabic, especially in Saudi."

By his own admission, the idea of paying for research is, for many Arabian Gulf investors, a novel idea - though it is common in the United States and Europe. More-over, large institutions are not accustomed to outsourcing research.

On the positive side, many of the people who subscribed to the research Mr Merheb published when he was at Shuaa have signed up for the TradeYourMarket.com's premium content.

"In the US, it's a very common business model and it was surprising that no one was doing it in this region, that's why I thought it was an opportunity," he says.

"We are trying to do something different and something new; hopefully the market will see it that way. A few months down the line I can give you a better opinion of how receptive the market was."

lgutcher@thenational.ae

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