Home HR & Learning Technology Spotlight on Michael Watkins building Aurem – Pioneering the UAE’s workplace benefits

Spotlight on Michael Watkins building Aurem – Pioneering the UAE’s workplace benefits

Michael Watkins, founder and CEO of Aurem, shares his experience launching a workplace benefits solution in the UAE & being a driving force in empowering the MENA talent pool.


Michael,the international workforce of the UAE has challenges with savings, and 90% of expats are left to fend for their own when it comes to their finances. The government is actively looking to change this to retain talent in the region and you’re one of the key people driving this change.

Tell us about you, your journey to the UAE and what you’re building?

I come from the UK, and never thought that one day I’d be working in financial technology, let alone building products and services that have and will change millions of people’s lives. I have a broad set of experiences across financial services, working for an asset manager, employee benefits consultancies and startups. I came to the UAE to create solutions for the lack of retirement provisions and then quickly realised that a lot of people, just like me, have a wide range of financial considerations, being an expat and global citizen – and that’s how Aurem came to be.

What does Aurem do?

The lack of a means for support has left UAE employees with a huge (3.6M AED) savings gap and ultimately results in companies losing talent and higher turnover costs.

So, it became clear that a financial benefits platform with our mission to connect businesses and people to financial services that make life easier and help build for their future, was required. We enable businesses to manage their End of Service Benefits (EoSBs), as well as offer savings plans and incentive plans to their employees, and that’s just the beginning.

How are you helping to solve this? 

We believe that the best way to save is “at source”, meaning that you save directly from your salary, rather than from your bank account. That way you have less to think about and fewer barriers between you and good financial outcomes.

Companies & specifically HR teams spend countless hours finding, attracting and retaining talent. Our platform is free to employers, meaning that they can offer a range of savings and investment products to their employees, chosen by professionals and with enough variety to help people build up their savings, without taking on any additional cost – unless they want to save with their employees as an incentive. It’s also entirely customisable, meaning that you can create different benefits for different groups of people.

What we’re building is global, meaning that if you’re a multinational company you can offer the same benefits across countries and as an individual, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of your savings because you can take your Aurem account with you – wherever you end up.

How will Aurem’s benefits through the workplace make their lives easier?

Quite simply, our platform gives you the ability to set your business apart from the rest, with no extra cost and little to no extra effort to sign up and manage your company benefits. Most people that come to the UAE, think of it as a moment in time, often with no idea where they’ll end up or when. Our solution removes the anxiety associated with that – turning workplace saving into a lifetime benefit rather than something that you have to cash out when you leave.

I’m excited that we’re helping businesses in the UAE, so if you’d like to hear more….