The UK has 22 banks that offer Islamic products, far more than any other other country in the Western world.There has been much debate about the Arab Spring in the past 12 months, with the world’s eyes watching what this will mean for the rest of the globe.
At its very heart lies individual and societal freedoms, but what is particularly interesting is that it is likely to result in more democratically-elected Islamic governments with the promise of moral leadership and shares values. This in turn will result in much greater demand for Islamic finance and wealth management solutions.
The global Islamic finance industry is currently purported to be worth more than $1 trillion (£619bn). It is expected to continue to grow in line with the development and expansion of the financial markets generally with a growing number of new shariah-compliant stocks and sukuk – a financial certificate similar to a bond – and a general desire to assert a specific Islamic identity to social activities.
But while the term Islamic financial planning might conjure up images of the Gulf or north African regions, we believe the UK is, and will continue to play, a pivotal role in advancing the growth.
The UK is home to more than 2m Muslims and an leading financial centre. It offers great potential and currently boasts Islamic assets worth more than $19bn (£12bn).
The UK has 22 banks that offer Islamic finance products, far exceeding that of any other Western country. Many mainstream financial groups recognise the need to service Muslims’ financial requirements, as well as those of many non-Muslims whose investment principles are aligned with the ethics promoted by Islamic law.
I believe that as Islamic finance expands and the range of products continues to broaden, there will be a growing demand for education and skills, where once again the UK institutions are leading the way.
Already the UK’s banks, sukuk issuance and exchange-traded products are supported by a sturdy infrastructure. This includes more than 25 major law firms and the largest four professional services’ firms in the country, while up to 10 universities and business schools offer qualifications in Islamic finance education.
Furthermore the UK’s Islamic finance sector recently received a major structural boost following the integration of the UK Islamic Finance Secretariat into TheCityUK, an independent body that promotes
UKIFS is the leading cross-sector body that assists with the promotion and development of Islamic finance.
The events of 2008, the financial crisis and the ensuing panic ‘destroyed’ trillions of dollars of wealth. Among the worst hit were retail investors and so-called tried and trusted investment wisdom failed to counter the crisis.