Sameer Abdi, a partner at Ernst & Young Bahrain and the head of the Islamic Financial Services Group, hosted a PowerTable at the World Islamic Banking Conference in Manama.
The PowerTable, entitled Performance, Growth and the Way Forward, focused on four recurring themes: global growth, trends in asset management, the ongoing global credit squeeze and
harmonisation in both Shari’a and standards.
Mr Abdi commented ‘We hear and have heard during this conference a lot about the continuing growth of the industry with projected figures of between $1 trillion and $3 trillion over the next decade. Where is this growth likely to happen? Which sectors should Islamic financial service providers concentrate on? Will the growth be wholesale driven or will it be retail driven? Linked to these questions is the issue of trends in asset management. Will the focus remain on real estate? Is our industry sufficiently diversified?’
Mr Abdi continued, ‘A third focus is of course the global credit squeeze. There have at times been suggestions that Islamic financial institutions will not be affected by the ongoing sub-prime mortgage in the US. However, all financial institutions will be affected by the higher price of borrowing, regardless of the level of liquidity in the GCC. What are the
immediate and the longer-term implications for Islamic banks and other financial institutions? The final piece of the puzzle for us here today is the issue of harmonisation, in both Shari’a and standards. There are two closely-linked issues: do we need harmonisation and, if we do, are we likely to get it?’
Mr Abdi and his panel, comprising Dr. Omar Marwan Kamal, the Executive Vice President of Al Salam Bank; Afaq Khan, the CEO (Islamic Banking) of Standard Chartered Saadiq; R Lakshmanan, the CEO of Sakana Holistic Housing Solutions; Hammad Hassan, the Executive Director of ABC Islamic Bank and Saad Rahman, the Director of Islamic Banking at CALYON, also answered several questions from the floor.