ONE of the UK’s leading accountancy bodies will this week try to cash in on the growing popularity of Islamic banking with the launch of an Islamic finance qualification.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) will become the first accountancy body in the UK to train its members in Islamic financial law, which prohibits the receipt and payment of interest. Investments in industries such as alcohol and gambling are also banned.
According to the Financial Services Authority, the Islamic finance industry is now worth up to £250bn globally. Over the past five years several mainstream UK banks, including HSBC, have started to offer products such as Islamic mortgages and current accounts to Britain’s Muslim communities.
Islamic banking had previously been restricted to specialist Islamic banks and some British Muslims complained that it was difficult to find banking practices that would not conflict with their religion.
According to Gordan Grant, the Edinburgh businessman who took over as president of CIMA in June, financial companies are now crying out for training to help them deliver Islamic financial services.
“Employers are telling us that this is one of the areas that nobody covers at this point in time,” he said.
An advisory panel of academics and scholars of Sharia law helped CIMA draw up the self-study qualification. The certificate was also developed in conjunction with Dr Mohd Daud Bakar, chief executive of the International Institute of Islamic Finance.
At the launch of a report into the Islamic finance industry last week, FSA chairman Callum McCarthy said there was considerable potential for Britain’s leading banks to expand in this area.
He said: “Islamic finance is a fast-growing force in the world economy and the FSA’s open and principle-based approach to regulation offers the right environment for it to flourish in the UK.
“We believe in a ‘no obstacles, no special favours’ approach when authorising new financial institutions and welcome the development of this market as it provides certain UK consumers with financial products that are in line with their beliefs.”
CIMA has engaged Dr. Daud Bakar to vet their certification from a Shariah perspective.