Category Archives: Current trends and news

Ethica Launches 700 Page Islamic Finance E-Book for Professionals

Ethica Launches 700 Page Islamic Finance E-Book for Professionals

 Download your copy of Ethica’s 700 Page “Handbook of Islamic Finance (2013)”

The Islamic finance industry’s leading certification institute, Ethica, today launched what may soon become the desktop reference of choice for the Islamic finance professional: a 700 page e-book packed with practical, usable information. Everything from sample Islamic finance contracts, over 1,000+ scholar-approved Q&As, the entire “Meezan Bank Guide to Islamic Banking,” study notes to Ethica’s award-winning Certified Islamic Finance Executive (CIFE) program, and much more. All organized with an easy-to-use subject index at the end.

Ethica is the first globally-recognized certification institute in Islamic finance to launch a comprehensive online guidebook for the industry. Ethica’s spokesperson said, “We wanted to create a handbook that empowers professionals with a usable, practical reference that goes beyond standard academic theory.”

What makes the e-book unique is that it emphasizes entrepreneurship. Sample contracts, product descriptions, and recommended reading lists target the newcomer who may not necessarily be interested in lining up for a job at a big bank. His horizons may extend to the entrepreneurial side of Islamic finance, which continues to be top-heavy with large banks dominating the headlines and smaller companies and start-ups largely absent from the industry.

Ethica’s “Handbook of Islamic Finance (2013)” is now available free of charge.

Download your copy here.

About Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance (

Winner of “Best Islamic Finance Qualification” at the Global Islamic Finance Awards, Ethica is chosen by more professionals for Islamic finance certification than any other organization in the world. With over 20,000 paying professionals in 47 countries, the Dubai-based institute serves banks, universities, and professionals across over 100 organizations with its 4-month Certified Islamic Finance Executive (CIFE) program delivered 100% online. The CIFE is the only globally recognized certificate accredited by scholars to fully comply with AAOIFI, the world’s leading Islamic finance standard. To watch an Ethica training video click here.

57,000 new Islamic finance jobs? How not to get one

57,000 new Islamic finance jobs? How not to get one
by Paul Clarke


Islamic finance is supposedly synonymous with growth. As Islamic assets hit $1.3trillion and sukuk issuance reaches a new high, a skills shortage looms. Why, then, can’t those undertaking industry qualifications find work?

In Malaysia, the world’s largest Islamic finance centre, the industry is reportedly facing a massive shortfall of qualified professionals. Around 40,000 people will be needed to fill the roles by 2020 in Malaysia, according to its central bank, and another 17,000 in Indonesia in the next three to five years. The Kuala Lumpur-based International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance says it will launch new programmes to meet the demand.

But it’s not as though there’s a shortage of educational options currently. There’s the Islamic Finance Qualification (IFQ), various certificates from the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance, the CIMA advanced diploma in Islamic finance and whole host of degree courses like the MSc Investment Banking and Islamic Finance offered by the Henley Business School. However, these are not a golden ticket into a new job.

“Islamic institutions haven’t been immune to the financial crisis and, while they may not be downsizing, many are making do with what employees they have,” says Saftar Sarwar, a board member of the Islamic Finance Council. “The main problem with these qualifications is that they teach students the principles of Islamic finance and Shariah compliance, but they lack capital markets and asset management knowledge or experience and this, more than anything, is what employers want.”

Big market, small teams

So far in 2012, Islamic bond issuance globally has already reached record new highs of $38.4bn, according to figures from Dealogic. Syndicated loans have also held up well this year, with deal value coming in at $18.7bn, compared to $7.2bn for the whole of 2011. The Middle East makes up the majority of Islamic bond issuance – $19.7bn so far in 2012, compared to $16.5bn in Malaysia.

Globally, the biggest bookrunner is HSBC, with 25.7% of the market, followed by Maybank Investment Bank, whose dominance in its native Malaysia helps it up the league tables, then CIMB Group, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank.

Investment banks’ Islamic finance teams in the Middle East remain relatively small, however.

Mark Swan, director of Dubai-based headhunters Principal Search says: “Most international banks have a senior structurer dealing with Islamic finance transactions, who’s expected to be an asset management, capital markets and Shariah-compliance expert. They usually have a VP and a junior banker – maybe two – supporting them, but deal origination comes from the conventional investment banking team. Few firms are increasing their Islamic finance arms in the region.”

In Malaysia, job opportunities appear more prolific. Simon Gregory, general manager, Malaysia, executive recruitment at recruiters Talent2, says demand “continues to increase” with investment banking providing the driving force.

“While many companies are asking their front-line staff to sell both Islamic and conventional products, most have Islamic-product specialists who are able to give technical information and ensure the product is sold in correct way,” he says.

The wrong tools for the job

Part of the problem with the current Islamic finance qualifications is that graduates come equipped with theoretical knowledge, but nothing in the way of work experience or practical application that would appeal to an employer, suggest experts.

Mohammed Khnifer, a sukuk structurer working for the Islamic Financial Product Development Center in Saudi Arabia (and a man with Islamic Masters and MBAs under his belt), says there’s a “thin line” between good and bad Islamic finance education. Globally recognised universities, who provide both theoretical and practical training – the Henley course requires students to spend time in an Islamic bank in Malaysia, for example – are much more likely to result in employment after graduation, he argues.

“It’s easy to get carried away by catchy headlines that blame the unemployability of Islamic finance fresh graduates on all education providers,” he says. “It’s important to recognize the gulf between the good and bad courses.”

Even graduates of these Masters courses are struggling to find employment, however. Martyn Drage, manager of the careers service at the ICMA Centre in Henley Business School, says that graduates of the MSc Investment Banking and Islamic Finance are not finding success within Islamic institutions.

“At an entry level, Islamic institutions don’t take on many graduates,” he says. “Our advice to graduates currently is to try and secure a job at a conventional investment bank and, if they really feel passionately about Islamic finance, try to orchestrate a move into their Islamic arms once they’ve got some experience under their belt.”

Recruiters tell us that international banks tend to put their conventional products in an “Islamic wrapper”, so investing in a graduate with a specialist Islamic finance degree is unnecessary. Instead, they prefer conventional qualifications, such as the CFA, or turn to existing employees they can spend a short time training in Shariah principles.

It also doesn’t help that the Malaysia, the world’s biggest Islamic finance centre, is largely closed to recruiting foreign graduates.

“It is the nature of the Malaysian financial services industry that usually only Malaysian candidates will be considered unless at a very senior level,” says Gregory.

Ethica publishes CIFE Study Notes


Ethica’s award-winning Certified Islamic Finance Executive™ (CIFE™) program now comes with the “CIFE™ Study Notes,” an indispensable 100+ page guide exclusively available to CIFE™ students…now available for a limited time to EVERYONE.

Get your sneak peek into Ethica’s CIFE™ program, winner of the “Best Islamic Finance Qualification” at the Global Islamic Finance Awards. Get your copy of the CIFE™ Study Notes here:

With over 20,000 paying users in 44 countries and more than 100 banks and corporates, the Dubai-based institute is the most heavily enrolled Islamic finance certification institute in the world. Ethica’s 4-month Certified Islamic Finance Executive™(CIFE™) program is delivered 100% online.

Guest Post: Are Commodity Investments Shariah-Compliant?

Investors looking for new opportunities in today’s economic environment hear a lot about the idea of investing in tangible commodities, such as precious metals like gold and silver. This is certainly an interesting sort of alternative investment, and essentially has a whole different set of pros and cons from other types of investment. For the most part, people who invest in these sorts of commodities tend to do so more in the hopes of achieving financial stability, as opposed to monetary gain. The values and prices of precious metals do not often shift dramatically, and are not tied to any particular company or economy, so putting your money behind them can help you to avoid drops in the value of your money if it is kept in currency form. But, is investing in these sorts of commodities Shariah-compliant? Let’s see if it passes the three main requirements for a Shariah-compliant investment.

  • The first requirement is that Shariah prohibits the earning of interest via investment opportunity. This is not to say that people following Shariah are not allowed to profit, but that profit must be the result of production in the actual investment, as opposed to simple interest earned through lending. Tangible commodities like precious metals would seem to be fine under this rule, as the only gains that can be earned would be due to slight increases in the prices of such commodities between the time at which you purchase bullion and the time when you withdraw your investment.
  • The second requirement is that Shariah prevents investments in unethical industries (such as alcohol, pornography, tobacco, etc.). Most tangible commodities will certainly be permissible under Shariah as far as ethics go, and the specific idea of investing in precious metals is completely fine.
  • Finally, Shariah demands that a strict and all-inclusive contract be drawn up for any long-term investment. This is so that all of the details are down on paper in a single place, which can help prevent future disputes and complications. In fact, the actual clarity of this contract is also subject to the potential of being prevented by Shariah, if there is found to be any possibility of ambiguity or future disputes. So, in order to be certain that your commodity investment is Shariah-compliant, be sure to have a thorough and all-inclusive contract drawn up.

While these are indeed strict guidelines that prohibit many types of investments, most commodities seem to be fair game. And, fortunately, there are quick and convenient ways to invest in such things. For example, a quick visit to Bullion Vault will allow you the opportunity to place your money behind gold bullion, which is a fairly common commodity investment, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. Be sure to structure a careful contract, and you should be all set!

James Allen is a programmer and writer for numerous investment sites online. He has written on the subjects of commodity investment and new financial opportunities.

KPMG nets Miller as Global Head of Islamic Finance

KPMG nets Miller as Global Head of Islamic Finance




KPMG has hired Neil Miller as global head of Islamic finance. Miller joins from Norton Rose where he led their global Islamic finance practice and will continue to be based in Dubai, where he has been since 2009.

According to KPMG, ‘Neil has specialised in Islamic finance since he moved to Bahrain in 1995. He then returned to London in 2000 to set up Norton Rose’s Islamic finance group which went on to win numerous industry awards under his leadership, with Neil becoming a highly regarded industry figure internationally.

Miller said, “KPMG’s global reach, vast client relationships and deep industry insights will provide me with an opportunity to identify services and products tailored to the Islamic Finance Industry. This, and the commitment of the senior partners in the firm to the development of Islamic finance, was an important factor in my decision to join KPMG. To prosper and grow, the Islamic financial industry needs to be served by firms that can deliver well researched and designed tools that are Shariah compliant and commercially viable, but also comprehensively consider taxation, audit and accounting perspectives. KPMG already has a strong Islamic finance offering and I look forward to developing this further through its international network.”

KPMG’s announcement comes shortly after Deloitte lost its head of Islamic finance, David Vicary, to Islamic finance education house INCEIF.


Dubai Exports Islamic Finance to Europe

Dubai Exports Islamic Finance to Europe

While the conventional financial system is recovering from the fallout of the international financial crisis Islamic finance on the other hand is growing rapidly. Statistics show that global Islamic banking assets have grown approximately 10% per annum from the mid 1990s when they were about US$150 billion.

Today, global Islamic financial assets stand at approximately US800 billion. Industry experts claim that over the next decade the sector may reach US$4 trillion. The growth of Islamic Financial Services has been driven by a growing Islamic population that is enjoying a rapid rise in purchasing power, due to better education and employment opportunities. This has been supported by financial engineering and innovation in the provision of Islamic financial products and services.

No longer is Islamic finance limited to simply the provision of interest free bank accounts but includes a whole spectrum of such as fund of funds, exchange traded funds, hedge funds and real estate funds are gaining wide acceptance. These new products have increased investor awareness of Islamic products. The same is true in the corporate sector whereby Islamic financial innovation has developed products while being shariah compliant meet the needs of the modern business.

The financial innovation has been greatly assisted by financial centers and their regulators who have understood the importance of the sector and its unique structure. In this respect Dubai has become the leader and pioneer with the first recognized Islamic bank being established in the country, the first Islamic stock exchange and not only does it have the greatest number of listed Islamic bonds or sukuks, but also the largest ever sukuk issued.

Moreover, with its business clusters such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), this has been a catalyst for the development of diverse range shariah compliant products. The Centre has allowed a number of Shariah compliant firms to develop their products and services. In terms of regulation Dubai through the Dubai Financial Services Authority has developed advanced level of regulation to supervise the firms within the DIFC. Dubai has shown that it can be innovative through the development of new shariah compliant products to meet the needs of an ever increasing and sophisticated investor.

"The expertise of Dubai in the area of Islamic Financial Services is something that we hope to capitalize through our export facilitation services"’ commented Engineer Saed Al Awadi, the CEO of Dubai Exports, an agency within Dubai Department of Economic Development. Al Awadi continued to state that, "we have carried out two very successful trade missions in Islamic financial services which have linked our firms with opportunities in foreign markets".

Dubai Exports held a seminar to highlight Islamic Financial Opportunities in Germany and France which are two of the main economies within the Eurozone. The seminar was aimed at the very senior management within the Islamic financial services sector.

The German market poses great opportunities for Islamic Financing, with a population of 4 million Muslims that holds wealth of up to €25 billion. This potential is further bolstered by a significant rate of saving in Muslim households, which at 18% is nearly double the national average. Almost 83% of the total Muslim population identifies as religious, and consequently serves as an ideal customer base for products offered in Islamic Financing. This is even with a large demographic of young residents, where a 77% majority of the Muslim population falls between the ages 14 to 49 years.

"More than 70% of Muslims in Germany responded in a survey last year that they are interested in Islamic Finance products, and of these nearly 60% of respondents would consider availing of such services if offered by an existing German bank," stated Dr Baltz, who is a senior lawyer with Amereller legal Consultants and one of the speaker’s at Dubai Exports’ seminar.

Dr Baltz further added that, "A chief advantage for the development of Islamic Financing in Germany is the absence of any restrictive regulations that could hinder the practices and products of Islamic banking. This is partially because the Federal Financial Services Authority (BaFin), Germany’s banking regulator did not recognise Islamic Financing until much recently, and thus there were no specific regulations surrounding Islamic banking products. "

Meanwhile, Dr Goepfrich, CEO of AHK Germany announced that, "Dubai with its expertise in the area of Islamic Financial services is an ideal partner for Germany firms seeking to enter the sector."

Although, foreign expansion is natural for Dubai’s financial institutions they must however be aware of the implications of their domestic regulatory commitments. Judy Waugh from Al Tamimi and Company spoke at the seminar regarding this aspect. Waugh stated that, "sensible foreign expansion implies that firms adhere to both the home regulation as we alls that of their host country."

The door to foreign expansion has been possible as in recent years, a number of countries have taken the initiative of making the necessary changes to their legal and regulatory systems so as to allow Islamic financial institutions to be established and recognized at par with conventional financial firms.

"These changes provide considerable opportunities to our firms and we hope to capitalize on them" commented Al Awadi who also announced that AHK and Dubai Exports will be leading a Trade Mission consisting of financial institutions from Dubai to Germany and France in April of this year.


Islamic micro lenders set up global network

Islamic micro lenders set up global network

Islamic Microfinance Network (IMFN) has been set up to assemble the international Islamic Microfinance organisations on one platform, a statement said. 

The IMFN head office is in Lahore and its regional offices will be in Ghana, Mauritius and Middle East. 

According to IMFN official the board members of IMFN are Farida Tariq, Chairperson, Amjad Saqib, Vice Chairman, and Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Officer. 

Kawako Yasuma, CEO, Ghana Islamic Microfinance Bank, Mohammad Raffick Nabi Mohamod, Founder, AlBaraka Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, Mauritius and Khaleeq-uz-Zaman, Head of Shariah Islamic Banking, International Islamic University, Islamabad are working as directors Islamic Microfinance Network.

The core objective of this network is to provide best methodologies of Islamic microfinance, Shariah guidelines, and human resource to the industry.

Third working group meeting of Islamic Microfinance Network was held on Thursday at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) where national and international microfinance organisations took part. 

Zubair Mughal said that the trend of Islamic microfinance is rapidly increasing in Pakistan and all over the world. He said that there are 14 Islamic microfinance organisations working in Pakistan and more than 200 are playing active all over the world. One of the major reasons of this rapid popularity of Islamic microfinance is the failure of the typical microfinance and India is the open precedent of its failure. 

He said that the initial member countries of Islamic Microfinance Network are Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Ghana, Mauritius and Kazakhstan.

Farida Tariq said that this network could prove to be an excellent source of poverty alleviation and institutional building.

Amjad Saqib added that the objective of this network is to assemble Islamic microfinance organisations at one platform.

Khaleeq-uz-Zaman and Syed Mohsin praised the effort of giving synergy to Islamic microfinance organisations.