UK Islamic finance leaders talk up growth beyond challenging times
- Bahrain: Tuesday, December 08 - 2009 at 10:58
- PRESS RELEASE
At the 16th annual World Islamic Banking Conference 2009 in Bahrain, UK Islamic finance leaders shared their insights on the future of Islamic finance at a dedicated UK Roundtable discussion. They called for a positive outlook in the coming year despite the adverse economic climate. The challenging issues and themes presented in the discussion showcased thought leadership held by UK firms in the Islamic finance industry.
The session was opened by British Ambassador to Bahrain, Jamie Bowden who said: "I am confident that the UK as a global centre of financial activity, has the right level of expertise and a proven track record of developing UK Islamic financial products and services that can be utilized more than ever."
Presenter, Nima Abu Wardeh posed the challenging questions of risk management in the midst of recent market developments in the Gulf laying the foundations for a dynamically charged debate among the panellists about the level of credit risk and exposure for Islamic financial providers globally.
Darshan Bijur, Director, KPMG said, "London is the international centre of excellence for Islamic finance. The professional services and advisory services sector is highly developed and can help the global Islamic banking and finance centres address current challenges and position themselves for the future."
Humphrey Percy, Chief Executive of Bank of London and The Middle East, addressed the issue of liquidity management and pricing in Islamic finance commenting, "Liquidity problems exist in both the short and long term maturities, but when it comes to pricing, Islamic Finance is price competitive when compared to conventional finance, and is well regarded as an alternative form of financing."
Richard Thomas, Chief Executive of Gatehouse Bank reaffirmed the strengths of Islamic finance and its relevance and growing importance particularly in a tight financial market, " The development of financial instruments in conventional terms has cost the consumer, and the perception that pricing in Islamic finance products is higher is wrong- products need to be structured well, with care of due diligence and detail, often that is not in place with conventional instruments and now the costs are being borne by the public."
With industry leaders debating the issues impacting the growth of the industry, it was clear that the UK Islamic finance industry was looking positively at its growth and its competitiveness against its conventional counterparts and importantly the opportunities that remain in the year ahead.
When Ms Abu Wardeh asked, "Why the UK?" and what its position may be at the height of the crisis, to now when market developments and uncertainty loomed in the Gulf markets, the panel reiterated the same positive sentiments -- UK organisations have the robustness and adaptability to deal with and respond to challenging issues.
Muneer Khan, Partner at Simmons & Simmons, "I think there are always opportunities to be found through adversity and we have gained a lot from the range of expertise and knowledge. We have a supportive Government policy that is well admired in international markets. I am confident that we will see the growth of this sector continue."
Gillian Walmsley, Debt & Securities Product Manager at London Stock Exchange said, "Those that come to London, and the UK should look at the capital market infrastructure, international pool of liquidity they can have access to."
Humphrey continued, "The establishment of other financial centres of excellence in Islamic finance and also other successful Islamic banks should be encouraged; we welcome that. We have built bridges to the Gulf and to South East Asia. As a whole we want to grow the industry and we are happy to work with these centres and strengthen our partnerships to continue that progress."
Moderated by BBC World Middle East Business Report Nima Abu Wardeh, the speakers were: -
• Muneer Kahn, Partner, Simmons & Simmons
• Darshan Bijur, Director Islamic Finance and Investments, KPMG
• Gillian Walmsley, Debt & Securities Product Manager, London Stock Exchange
• Richard Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, Gatehouse Bank
• Humphrey Percy, Chief Executive Officer, Bank of London and The Middle East
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