GSB obtains Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) licence

International Adviser can reveal that Dubai-headquartered wealth advisory company GSB has received a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) licence to become a directly authorised business in the UK.

The company started the process in Q4 2021 and was recently given the green light for the licence.

GSB was previously a trading name of AXG Advice.

The firm, which has taken office in Mayfair, London, said that the direct licence will help serve British clients in the UAE who repatriate to the UK, as the company wants to “continue the relationship with them when they return home”.

The company has hired Trevor Turner to join its UK operation as a partner. Turner was previously at HSBC Private Bank, J Safra Sarasin and Border & Cie in London.

Expansion strategy

GSB Capital said its expansion in the UK would not feature acquisitions in the early stages, as it wants to focus on organic growth initiatives.

Alison Whatnall, chief operating officer at GSB, said: “Our primary focus with this expansion is to help British people and their families successfully repatriate to the UK.

“While buying books from retiring IFAs may be an option next year, our immediate focus is to provide a more reliable assistance to British citizens living in the UAE and develop GSB service propositions.”

Ross Whatnall, chief executive of GSB, added: “Our long-term aim is to partner with like-minded, purpose-driven private equity and venture capital firms to support acquisitions and nationwide growth.”


GSB’s expansion plans do not stop just in the UK. It also has its eyes on setting up operations across Europe.

Alison Whatnall added: “Earlier this year, we established operations in Geneva, enabling us to partner with private banks in Switzerland.

“Plans also include obtaining a licence to operate in Liechtenstein. Regulated by FMA, this will allow European passporting rights. We anticipate this to be in place by the end of this year.”

Ross Whatnall said: “Both Switzerland and Lichtenstein are strong markets for us. From which further expansion may look to Spain and France, where value-based partnerships or acquisitions may also occur.

“For now, we are more geared towards recruiting high-level IFAs and private bankers.”

UAE focus

Despite the urge for globalisation, the firm continues to build on its roots in the UAE.

GSB has been busy expanding the local team and advancing the breadth of its offering.

Alison Whatnall said: “GSB has quickly evolved into a well-structured portfolio business. Dean Kemble now heads up our wealth management practice (GSB Capital). Chris Wright and Robert Mankelow head up our private banking and private office operations, respectively (GSB Private).

“Corporate services remain, realising this provides value-add across all segments.”

By the end of the year, GSB’s team will have grown to 60 from 32 in the UAE alone.


With restructuring around segments, IA asked why GSB has also chosen to serve ultra-high net worth individuals and families.

Ross Whatnall said this is due to how the firm’s client books had developed. But high net worth and mass affluent clients were still a big part of the company.

He added: “We remain committed to our clients and their families throughout life. Scaling our service philosophy and evolving our business means we must also attract, nurture and retain values-driven talent. So, this year, we have invested in our brand.

“We want to be diverse yet holistic in our offering. We will always have a solution for everyone. So, combining human-centricity and technology, our plan also includes an automated advisory solution to help and support the mass market.

“The industry has been poorly represented, so we do not want to leave anyone out. Especially not to the sharks that are still out there.”

Robbie Lawther, International Adviser

Robbie is a news editor for International Adviser, covering global news stories about the financial services industry. He joined Last Word Media in October 2018 after nearly two years working at a group of private banking publications, firstly as a reporter and then as assistant editor. Follow Robbie on Twitter via @RLawther94.

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