Investment Guide


The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) can help you:

Investment Guide


The DFSA has produced the following information to provide a general overview of investing and investments.

Investing is typically thought of as a way to increase the value of money and as a way of trying to protect the value of money against the impact of inflation over time.
All investments carry risks and are generally accepted as higher risk than simply depositing money with a bank.

Investments vary in terms of the degree of risk and also complexity and not all investment products are suitable for everyone.

Common Types of investments

Equities, shares or stocks

Equities, shares or stocks describe direct investments in a single company with the aim that the value of the share will rise over time and/or produce income in the form of a dividend paid by the company you invest in.

Shares are traded on stock markets and the value of shares fluctuate, often even over the course of a day.  Buying shares is generally considered one of the higher risk types of investment as it is a direct investment in a single company. Whilst there is the opportunity for the price of the shares to increase over time, producing capital growth, the value of the shares may fall and sale of the shares at that lower price will produce a loss on the original capital invested.

Equally dividends paid by companies are not guaranteed and there may be periods during which the company does not pay any dividend due to the underlying conditions in the business.

You can buy and sell shares through an adviser (broker or stockbroker) or direct through a share dealing account. The process of buying shares can be complex and you should ensure you fully understand your commitments and also research the company which you intend to buy shares in.

Funds, collective or pooled investments

Funds, collective or pooled investments offer an alternative to buying shares directly. A pooled investment allows an investor to participate in buying the shares of many different companies by combining with other investors. In such pooled investments the money of all the investors is aggregated and invested by a fund or investment manager. This allows the investment manager to spread the money invested across a range of different company shares or assets and may even allow investors access to different global markets within a single investment product.

Pooled investments are generally thought of as lower risk than direct equity or share investment because of this ability to diversify (spread) the risk. However, the value of the underlying investments is still dependent on the fluctuating market values of the investments held and may fall.

If you invest in pooled investments the dealing and administration related to the underlying investments is taken care of for you. However, charges are made by the managers of pooled investments for these services. Whilst they can be lower than the charges of direct investments, due to economies of scale, they will still impact on the level of investment return you may receive from these investments and you should always look into the charging structure of any investments you are offered.


Bonds or fixed interest securities are a debt based investment where the investor loans money to an entity (company or a government) in return for a fixed rate of interest (yield). The bond will have a maturity date at which the sum loaned will be returned. Bonds can also be traded in what is commonly referred to as the bond market. Their value will depend on the yield or interest rate payable, the credit worthiness of the issuer of the bond comparative to the general economic conditions and the value and outlook of alternative investments, such as equities and cash deposits.

Bonds are generally thought of as lower risk investments to shares, although they are not without risk, which at worst could be default on the bond and loss of part or all of the sum loaned.

Structured Products and Complex Investments

Beyond cash deposits, equities, pooled investments and bonds there are a range of products that can be designed for specific investors or investment objectives. These will often combine different types of investments and will involve different levels of risk.
Such products can often be complex in nature and may offer potentially higher rates of return than more conventional investments. The potentially higher rates of return are often due to the greater levels of risk involved with such products. Anyone considering buying such products should understand the nature of the investment and the level of risk involved.


Any investment involves risk and investors should consider their own attitude to such risk before they decide to invest and in selecting the type of investments to place their money into.

People approach risk in different ways. Some people are more comfortable than others in taking risks to potentially receive a higher return on their investments. For others security is more important, seeking to protect the underlying capital they have.

If you are going to invest you should consider how you would feel if you suffered a significant fall in the value of your investment. Would you view this as just a potential short term set back and be willing to leave the money invested or even add to the initial investment, in the hope that the value may rise over the longer term? Or would you feel uncomfortable that the value of the money you originally invested is falling and wish to get out before it falls further, realising your losses but potentially limiting them? There is no right answer, it depends on your own attitude to risk, how long a period of time you wish to invest over and how likely to you are to need the money in the short term.

You may also want to consider currency risk, the potential fluctuation in the relative values of the currency of your home country or the currencies in which your investments may be held.

Other Considerations

Anyone thinking about investing should consider their decision carefully and may wish to keep the following factors in mind:

How much can you afford to invest? Generally investment funds should be surplus funds from your income or money saved, that you are unlikely to need in the short term. You may wish to ensure that all your protection needs, such as life insurance and provision for dependants have been met before investing.

What is your objective in investing? If you are saving for a specific goal, such as providing for your children’s education, you will have a specific sum in mind that you need to generate over a set term and you may have a different attitude to risk in considering potential investments for such a goal.Or are you investing to generate an income and do you need to ensure a minimum level of income from your investment?

How long do you wish to invest for? Investments are generally mid to long term commitments, five years and beyond. If you are likely to need the funds in the short term then it is probably not suitable to commit them to an investment. Having to access funds in the early years after investing could result in penalties or surrendering the investments in unfavourable market conditions and the money you get back may be less than you invested.

What level of risk are you willing to take? How comfortable would you be if the investment falls in value in the short term? Do you want the capital you invest to have some degree of protection? Are you willing to assume a greater level of risk in return for the potential that you may achieve higher rates of capital growth?

What is your level of knowledge and understanding of investments? Investments can be complex and you should ensure that you fully understand the nature of any investments, key features and charges associated with the investments and the risks involved. You may be comfortable selecting your own investments. Equally, you may want to seek the advice of a financial advisor to assist you.

There are plenty of high quality professional advisors in the market to assist you. In seeking advice you should ensure you are comfortable with the advisor, that he or she is acting in your best interests and has the requisite knowledge and expertise to assist you.

Avoiding scams Sadly we all see cases in the news of advisors who do not have their client’s best interests at heart or people who have fallen victim to investment scams.Be alert to any warning signs, including:

  • Unsolicited calls offering you incredible investment opportunities that seem too good to be true, they usually are
  • High pressure sales people – Don’t feel pressured into investing by limited offer only or once in a lifetime opportunities. You can always walk away if you don’t feel comfortable and find an alternative investment in your own time
  • Complex investments or unclear charging structures. Feel comfortable in asking an advisor to explain the investment and the full extent of charges. If they can’t explain it to you in terms you can understand may be it is not the right investment for you.
  • Any requests for payment via an email or telephone offer or direct to the advisor. There are many scams around, make sure you check out the credentials of any company or advisor before you hand over any money

Complaints We Deal With

The DFSA is interested in receiving complaints about the following:

  • Contraventions of certain Laws and Rules administered by the DIFC Registrar of Companies;
  • Misconduct or dissatisfaction with an Authorised Firm, Authorised Individual, Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, Authorised Market Institution or Fund;
  • A contravention of a Law or Rule administered by the DFSA;
  • Any conduct that causes or may cause damage to the reputation of the DIFC or the financial services industry in the DIFC; and
  • Misconduct or dissatisfaction with the activities of the DFSA and/or any of its employees.

Below are some examples of the types of complaints the DFSA handles. If you are unsure of whether the complaint is relevant to us we urge you to submit a complaint.

  • Selling financial products that are unsuitable;
  • Making false or misleading representations to customers about the characteristic of a financial product or service;
  • Failing to act in the best interests of customers;
  • Misusing client funds;
  • Failing to observe high standards of integrity and fair dealing;
  • Failing to observe high standards of corporate governance; and
  • Scams misusing the identity of the DIFC or DFSA.
Dubai Map
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Complaints We Do Not Deal With

Not all problems are grounds for a complaint. We can only deal with complaints that fall within our jurisdiction or have the potential to adversely affect our jurisdiction. We may not be able to assist you directly if your complaint falls into one of the following categories:

  • Is unrelated to the DIFC; and
  • Involves conduct that does not contravene a Law or Rule administered by the DFSA; and involves conduct regulated by another regulator.

If your complaint falls into any of the above categories then you may wish to contact the following agencies for assistance:

Complaints Against The DFSA

If you are dissatisfied with the actions of the DFSA or its employees in a regulatory matter, you are encouraged to initially seek an appointment with the employee or with the Director of his or her relevant department to resolve the matter.

If you remain dissatisfied, you may make a formal complaint; any such complaint will be initially received and assessed by the Office of the General Counsel, and handled in confidence by the DFSA. If you wish to make such a complaint, go directly to the Complaints Form. You may submit your complaint online or deliver it directly to the Office of the General Counsel. The Office of the General Counsel will determine the appropriate person in the DFSA to assess and resolve your complaint. You may expect the Office of the General Counsel itself to handle the complaint if it involves an allegation of ethical misconduct or dishonesty, improper use of information, conflict of interest, or breach of laws or regulations.

If your complaint is against a DFSA employee, be aware that it will be necessary for the person handling the complaint to contact the person you have complained about.

Once you submit your complaint you will be notified by email that it has been received.

Regulatory Complaints

Directly to the Firm

DIFC Firms authorised by the DFSA must satisfy us that they have adequate mechanisms in place to deal with customer complaints. These mechanisms are designed to help you resolve your dispute by dealing with the company directly.

Before contacting the DFSA you should try dealing with the Authorised Firm first. This can often be quicker and more efficient as it is also in the company’s interest to resolve your complaint.

You may choose to contact the Authorised Firm in person, by phone or in writing. Putting your concerns in writing is the best way as it creates a record of your issue and allows you to retain a copy.

When writing to a company you should make sure you set out the circumstances of your complaint clearly and as simply as possible. Dealing with events chronologically can be a good start.

The Authorised Firm should acknowledge your complaint and provide you with a response to the issues you have raised.

If you are unhappy with this response you may wish to contact the DFSA.

To the DFSA

The DFSA will only consider complaints submitted to it in writing. To enable us to assess your complaint as quickly and efficiently as possible it should include the following information:

  • Your details e.g. Name, Address, Telephone, e-mail address;
  • Details of the person against whom you have a complaint e.g. Name, Address, Telephone, e-mail address, as well as the individual you dealt with; and
  • Chronology of events including times and dates if possible.

Attach any documents you have received or any documents you think may be relevant. If you have written to the subject of your complaint or Firm previously please provide a copy of your letter as well as any response you may have received from the person or Firm.

Have you taken any legal action? If you are taking legal action in relation to the reported conduct please let us know who your lawyer is and if you consent to us contacting them to obtain more information.

All complaints are received in the strictest of confidence and we will take all necessary steps to protect the identities of complainants. Contacting the Firm directly is the quickest way of finding out information but we will only do so with your consent.

If you wish to submit a complaint to the DFSA, please click here.

Submit Your Complaint

The DFSA will only consider complaints submitted in writing. To submit a complaint you can:

  1. Complete our online Complaints Form
  2. Submit your written complaint to the DFSA via mail to DFSA, Level 13, The Gate, PO Box 75850, Dubai, UAE or via facsimile +971 (0)4 362 0801.

How We Handle Your Complaint

The DFSA acknowledges receipt of all complaints electronically or by post.

The DFSA will carefully assess each complaint to determine the most appropriate regulatory action, if any, to be taken. The DFSA does not generally seek commercial outcomes for complainants unless there is a public interest to be served.

The assessment may involve liaising with specialists within the DFSA, contacting witnesses, speaking with other regulators and contacting the firm or individual who is the subject of the complaint.

The DFSA aims to complete assessments within twenty eight (28) days of receipt of your complaint. Some assessments may take longer. Once the assessment is complete, the DFSA will provide you with a final response. The DFSA will generally not disclose any confidential information relating to the DFSA’s treatment of the complaint, including whether the DFSA commences an investigation. However, the DFSA will inform you if it intends to take no further action in respect of the complaint or suggests another course of action.