International Financial Services London (IFSL) Monday promoted the British capital as the best Western centre for Islamic finance.
“As the global market for Islamic financial services has grown three fold over the past decade to Dlrs 531 billion in 2006, so London is setting out its stall to be the key western centre for Islamic finance,” the IFSL said.
The cluster of 23 UK banks offering Islamic services outnumber more than four time those of any other country in western Europe, it said in a report, which listed only five in Switzerland and four each in France and Luxembourg as the nearest rivals.
Britain was also shown to be ahead of the rest of Western Europe in establishing fully Sharia compliant banks by three of the 23 that have been set up since 2004. Trading at the London Metal Exchange was said to be a key mechanism for asset and liability management.
“Evidence of London’s growing role in Islamic finance is shown in the UK being the only western country to feature prominently, 9th with Dlrs 10bn, in a global ranking of Sharia compliant assets by country,” said IFSL director of economics, Duncan McKenzie.
Trade and Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones also welcomed the report as confirming London’s position as the premier Western centre and partner of choice for Islamic finance, saying it was “a huge step in the right direction.”
But Digby Jones also warned that the UK must not be complacent and said the government trade and industry department was working hard in partnership with its delivery partners, to ensure the UK’s offering in this ever expanding sector continues.
The report also found that the UK educational institutions are taking the lead in positioning the UK as a leading centre of learning in Islamic finance.
IFSL, with more than 30 years experience, promotes the international activities of UK-based financial institutions and professional and business services, to help them develop commercial opportunities.