x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Small businesses can take shelter

Financial Fallout: With the threat of a second global downturn looming large, both small businesses and investors have a lot to lose.

SMEs in India are more domestic in nature.
SMEs in India are more domestic in nature.

With the threat of a second global downturn looming large, both small businesses and investors have a lot to lose.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tend to be more sheltered than large companies, but they also have fewer resources to deal with downturns, says Dipak Jain, the dean of the Insead international business school headquartered in France.

"Big businesses have very big reputational risks, given their size. Small businesses in that sense are different; they react differently."

Those in large markets such as India are likely to fare better than those in smaller, more established economies.

"SMEs in India are more domestic in nature as there is a vast domestic market in India," says Vishnu Deuskar, the managing director of Salvus Strategic Advisors, which has branches in both India and the Emirates.

In the UAE importers of materials priced in currencies not pegged to the dollar could suffer as the greenback weakens. But they are unlikely to be squeezed by higher interest payments on loans.

"I don't think credit will become more expensive [if there is a second downturn]. There is already quite a gap between the cost of interbank funds and lending rates," says Mr Deuskar.

However, interest rates could rise if a major UAE company defaulted on its debt.

"This would have the trigger effect of raising interest rates the same way as if that were to happen in the US," says Rupert Connor, of Acuma Wealth Management in the UAE.

People should start stockpiling at least a year's worth of savings in case they lose their jobs, says Vince Truong, a financial planner in Dubai.

Small-time investors should revisit their portfolios to make sure they are diverse as possible.

Those with stock-heavy portfolios should consider investing in different assets, such as emerging market bonds not pegged to the dollar.

"Say the US dollar continues to depreciate … the ones not pegged to the dollar will strengthen as the dollar weakens," says Mr Truong.

gduncan@thenational.ae

nparmar@thenational.ae