Chaired By Baroness Sayeeda Warsi
The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi hosted and chaired the inaugural meeting of the Global Islamic Finance and Investment Group (IFIG) in London. The group was established following a commitment made at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in October 2013. Its aim is to identify the key global opportunities and barriers facing Islamic Finance and to use its extensive knowledge and expertise to create a global Islamic Finance market that supports growth and prosperity, including in the UK. The group includes Premiers, Ministers, CEOs of major Islamic banks, central bank Governors and regulators – people who can make a real difference to the global landscape of Islamic Finance.
The meeting resulted in a number of concrete steps that the group agreed to take action on:
- Communicating: the group recognised the need to build greater understanding and better communicate the value of Islamic Finance. It recommended that a comprehensive analysis be conducted on the current global market and a broad strategy developed to foster understanding and challenge perceptions of Islamic Finance.
- Regulation: Islamic Finance is a fast-developing industry which has to operate in different domestic regulatory environments as well as internationally. The group suggested that it would be beneficial to consider how to exchange knowledge on Islamic finance and approaches to regulating it. With this in mind, Baroness Warsi outlined her intention to ask relevant stakeholders to consider how best to pool resource and share expertise on Islamic finance, possibly through the establishment of a physical or virtual hub.
- Investment: the group recognised the huge investment potential both outside of and within the Muslim world, where an estimated 72% of Muslims are “unbanked” (do not use any banking services at all); and that insurance and pension funds are underdeveloped across the Islamic World. The Group agreed to consider an engagement strategy for potential investors, looking at:
- innovative Islamic Finance products for the tech savvy generation;
- the potential of the Waqf ; and
- long-term development opportunities in the Takaful market – a source of long-term capital and potentially a big growth area.
The group agreed to meet on a bi-annual basis to drive progress in the key areas highlighted and to continue to identify areas where collective action will lead to further opportunities.
Following the meeting, Global IFIG Chair, Baroness Warsi commented: “The global development of Islamic Finance is a huge opportunity for all of us. Interest in its potential both from within the Muslim World and outside of it demonstrates that it may be the next big thing. I’m confident that by harnessing the technical expertise, business knowledge and political influence of all our members, this group will accelerate the global growth of the Islamic Finance industry. Our ambition is to get things done.”