The Growth Of Islamic Financial Services In UK

“There is huge potential for an expansion of Islamic offerings in the UK financial markets, which will boost London’s position as an international financial centre?. (Callum McCarthy,2007)

Background

Islam is a divine religion and provides guidance for all walks of life. Muslims are currently trying to revitalize the Islamic laws in all fields of life. Especially economic field is in great focus. In 1980’s Middle East Muslim countries again tries to put in practice the Islamic financial Islamic laws 1st time and set the foundations for Islamic banking and finance for the world. After that Islamic financial services grew very fast not only Muslim countries but also in Non-Muslim countries. According to FSA (Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority) briefing note (2006) currently Islamic banking and finance is growing from 10% to 15% annually in international market and the main reason of this growth is that Muslim population in Western world and Islamic products are socially responsible.

According to Shayerah Ilias (2009) Shariah or Islamic laws are the bases of Islamic finance. Shariah prohibits interest, uncertainty, adherence to risk-sharing and profit-sharing and promote ethical investment and asset backing. S. Ilias (2009) also claimed that currently there is 10% to 15% annual growth in international market for Islamic finance because some researchers argued that Islamic finance brings lots of business opportunities and alternative methods for capital formation and economic development. Among the Western world the demand of Islamic financial market is especially growing in North America and UK, although Muslims are in minority there. According to FSA briefing notes (2006) FSA approved license for the 1st fully Shariah compliance bank Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) in 2004 and this bank sells Islamic products in consumer market. In 2006 FSA licensed European Islamic Investment Bank that was the 1st independent Shariah compliant investment bank in UK.

Aims and objectives

Considering the above mentioned historical background of Islamic banking and finance in UK the proposed study aims to further investigate and explore how Islamic banking and finance grew in UK market. Study will explore the motives behind this fast growth and the challenges. Research will further investigate and explore the future scope of Islamic finance in UK. In other world the objective of the research is

To explore the growth of Islamic banking and financial services in UK.

To find out which Islamic products are commonly sold in UK financial market

To explore the reasons of growth of Islamic finance in UK

To identify the future possibilities for Islamic banking and finance in UK financial Market

To identify the challenges for Islamic banking and finance in UK

To meet these objectives proposed research will answer the following questions

Whether Islamic banking is growing in Western countries like UK?

What kind of Islamic products are commonly sold in UK financial market?

What is the Future of Islamic Banking in UK?

What kind of challenges Islamic banking and finance can face in Western world particularly in UK?

Literature review

Islamic banking

Ismail & Tohirin (2010) argued that Muslims around the world spend their lives under Islamic Rules which are defined by The Holy Book of Quran that is called Shariah law. In Shariah law, all type of interest in Islamic banking products and Islamic finance is forbidden. In Islamic banking, no interest is involved but time value of money and risk considered very important and play its part. Customers and Islamic banking work together on the basis of risk sharing. Both share risks which are already agreed on the terms of investment, profits and losses.

According to Laldin (2008) Interest is forbidden in investment of alcohol, pornography and betting. Other banks cannot help Islamic banks or Islamic banks cannot get help to lend. There are different types of Islamic products available for customers. Ijara and Murabha are considered very important products.

Historical Background of growth of Islamic banking in UK

According to FSA (Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority) briefing note (2006) 3% population of UK are Muslims and nearly half million Muslim visitors regularly visits UK. These facts are the major reason of growth in Islamic banking and finance. Many UK high street bank are offering current accounts and mortgages through Islamic windows. The report further claimed that in Western world the first fully fledged Shahriah bank “Islamic Bank of Briton? was introduced in 2004 in UK with FSA authorization. London is a major financial center for international firms and Middle East’s banks that offer Islamic products. This also confirms that Islamic finance is growing from 10% to 15% annually at global level.

Shayerah Ilias (2009) claimed that internationally modern Islamic finance introduced in 1970’s. There is no doubt that currently Islamic has a very small but growing market in global financial market and estimated annual growth rate of Islamic finance is 10% to 15% in last 10 years. He further claimed that Islamic bonds (Sukuk) are gaining popularity in global market. $ 70 million worth Islamic bonds are in global financial market and up to $100 millions are expected in 2010. Global growth of Sukuk from 2004-2007 is approximately more than five folds. This is shown by the following figure

(Source Shayerah Ilias, 2009, Islamic Finance: Overview and Policy Concern, DIANE

Publishing)

Ismail and Tohirin, (2010) also claimed that the growth of Islamic banks is 10-15% per year and there is strong expectation that it will grow further. The recent credit crisis gave further boost to Shariah compliant banking and finance. There are 300 different Islamic Institutions in 51 different countries of the world. The amount of total assets hold by Islamic banks is 822 billion US dollars. In addition, there are 250 mutual funds working around the world which are completely complying with the Islamic banking and financial system. According to CIMB Group Holding Analysis, the rate of growth of Islamic banking and finance is fast than any other financial institution. The rate of growth of Islamic bonds is nearly 24% with the total amount of 25 billion US dollars in 2010. The network of Islamic banking is not only constrained in the Muslim world but it is also spread in different continent and different developed world including America and United Kingdom.

Principles of Islamic Banking and Islamic products

The purpose of Islamic banking is same as main stream banking system except that it is in accordance with the laws of Shariah. The transactions in Islamic banking system are done with the help of Islamic banking system. The most common terms used in Islamic banking are Riba (interest), Mudarabah (Profit sharing), safekeeping (Wadiah), Musharakah (Joint Venture) Ijara (leasing) Tufakil (Insurance). (Hassan and Lewis, 2007)

Islamic Mortgages

The banks first purchase the property and then sell it to its customer. Here Islamic banks are not acting as a third party. They get ownership of the property and deal with the customer as first hand party. The banks give ownership of property to its customer from very first day. As bank income is implicit and banks do not charge some additional amount on the late payments. To avoid the bankruptcy, the banks do extensive check of credit worthiness and security measures. This type of agreement is called Murabha. Another approach is called Ijara; this contract is same like real estate and mostly applied on the leasing of vehicle. The customer is charged higher for the product then market value of product. The ownership of product is given at the time of full payment. (Hassan and Lewis, 2007)

Partnership (Musharakah)

In this type of product the bank and borrowing party make a partnership entity. They both invest in the property. The borrower then gives property at the rent and gets rental income. At this stage bank and borrower both have shares in the property. The borrower then starts to pay the money at the greed amount and banks shares reduce with each instalment. This will carry on until borrower gets all the shares of property for the bank. (Benamraoui, 2008)

In case of default both bank and borrower will get the proceeds from sales in certain percentage which is equal to floating market rates, on the basis of BLR (basic lending rate). This is especially applicable in the banking system is dual in nature.

Mudarabah (venture capital)

In this contract one party provides the finance for a project while other party provides required expertise and labour force. Both the parties get agree in the beginning of contract in case of profit from the project who much will be share of both parties and if project gets failed then in what proportion they will share the shock of loss. Here expert company does not promise to pay certain amount of money back. Rather than that they keep an uncertainty. The logical justification for that is the future is uncertain. A project which is looking very good and there is strong expectation that it will give positive cash flow from the beginning can get wrong and result into loss. On the other hand, uncertain external environment can make a very weak project to a good positive cash generator. In such circumstances, it is not possible for any organization to promise that they will definitely give certain amount of money. (Hassan and Lewis, 2007)

In modern banking system, banks normally promise with the investor that they will give them certain amount of money. If due to internal or external economic reason, they get failed, they have to apply for bankruptcy. In this case investors lose whole sum of money. It means if someone makes a promise that they will pay them certain money is actually lie. Islamic banks do not involve in such guarantees. (Ismail and Tohirin, 2010)

Islamic Credit Cards

Islamic credit cards are accepted in all over the world. These are getting more and more popular due to their benefits which holder of card get and not available through the cards of main stream banks. The holders of card will not have to pay the interest if payment is made before due date. The second benefit of Islamic credit card is that the cardholder can pay Zakat and Takaful online through this card. (Ismail and Tohirin, 2010)

Bai Al-Inahl, Quardul Hassan and Al-Wadiah can be applied in Islamic credit card transactions. In this way, Islamic credit cards are complied with the Shariah products. The main stream banks are not providing any of such facilities. The transaction make through Islamic credit cards are interest free and have fixed profit margin if payment on the credit card is late. It does not compound up once payment is not made in time as traditional banks are doing. (Ismail and Tohirin, 2010)

Sukuk (Islamic Bond)

These are Islamic financial certificates or in other word, these are Islamic bonds. The investors in the bond do not get the fixed rate of return on investment as interest is prohibited in Islamic economics. The Islamic bonds are classified into tradability and Non-tradability. The total worth of Islamic bonds in next ten years framework would be 1.2 trillion US dollars. The holder of these bonds profit at the rate as the investor is returning to issuer Company. The issuer of bonds set the terms and conditions of its shares in profit. However, investors also share some risk of loss. To avoid the risk the investment project is carefully monitored in the beginning of contract and during the life cycle of project. (Laldin, 2008)

Main drivers of Growth

M. Ainley et al (2007) argued that there are six main reasons of growth of Islamic financial services in UK

No

Reason

of Growth

Explanation

1

Global expansion

Islamic finance is growing very fast in the world. Islamic banking 1st introduces in 1060’s in Middle East and grows very fast and now its market size is approximately £250bn globally and nearly 300 financial institutions are offering Islamic financial products. This fast growth has affect UK market too

2

Liquid Markets

London’s financial market is very flexible, innovative and liquid. UK financial industry is very famous for developing and delivering new financial products

3

Islamic windows

Many global banks and financial institutes are working in Middle East and South East Asian countries and have gained a very experience of local market where Islamic banking is growing very fast. So these international banks like Citi, HSBC etc have established Islamic windows that sell Islamic products with their normal routine business.

4

Excess Liquidity in Middle East

Excessive Liquidity in the Middle East countries have encouraged the growth of Islamic as well as conventional assets and local financial markets are not capable enough to manage financial activities and large investors starting considering international financial markets.

5

Public policy and regulation

UK government also have changed public policy and taxation and developed a taxation policy that is both applicable for both Islamic and conventional financial products

6

Single financial regulator

UK government have developed 11 different financial regulators into one by introducing the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that has increased the result in improved access to Islamic banks and Islamic financial products

(Source M. Ainley et al, 2007, Islamic Finance in the UK: Regulation and Challenges, Financial Service Authority accessed from http://www.fsa.gov.uk)

Challenges for Islamic finance in UK

According to Clive Briault (2007) currently Islamic banks are facing the same challenges as conventional banking but there are some risks which are affecting Islamic banks only. But he mentioned two challenges in particular

Risk Management

Clive Briault (2007) argued that it is very difficult to manage risk for Islamic finance because many risk management tools that are used by conventional banks or firms are not compliant to Shariah. So there is a big challenge for Islamic finance to develop the tools for risk management. He used the example of Mudaraba and claimed that this product have the same effects in term of liquidity as conventional banks’ interbank deposit and FSA have concern that how Islamic banks will manage risk for that products.

Diverse opinion among Shariah scholars

Clive Briault (2007) also claimed that 2nd main concern about Islamic banking is that there is a difference in opinion among Shariah scholars about the different products and FSA a secular regulator not religious so it is difficult for FSA to determine which product is Islamic product and which is not.

Research Gap and significance

There is no doubt that Islamic Banking and finance is a very hot topic in Western world. Many researchers have presented the growth history and mentioned the annual growth rate of Islamic finance in UK. But less focus is given on the reason of this fast growth, its consequences and what will be possibilities for Islamic finance in future in UK finance market and what could be the challenges for Islamic products in UK. So proposed research will critically review the information provided in literature and will explore the possible reasons of this fast growth and will also try to figure out the possibilities of future growth and challenges in UK market.

Research Methodology

The title of the research suggest that researcher is exploring the growth of Islamic finance in UK, so proposed study will be exploratory research in which research will explore the available literature to find out how Islamic finance make its way in UK financial market and how it have been growing till now. Researcher will further explore through research papers and FSA reports and articles that what could be the future scope for the Islamic finance and banking. Researcher will also try to find common Islamic products offered in UK financial market through Islamic banks or Islamic windows and what could be the possible challenges for the Islamic finance.

Secondary Data

According to Fowler (2008) secondary data is a data that is taken from already available data that is collected by other researchers or government agencies for their own purposes. The sources of that data is any kind of published material in form of books, articles, researcher papers, reports etc.

As mentioned above that proposed study is exploratory in nature, so secondary data collection method will be best because Islamic banking and finance is very hot topic in the west especially in UK and many Muslim and Western scholars are trying to figure out the future of Islamic finance. It is also mentioned in literature review that researchers claim that Islamic finance is the most growing sector in international financial market.

So for exploring all these reality secondary research will be best and researcher will explore already published research and will identify the future scope and challenges for Islamic finance in UK market.

Qualitative approach

For proposed study qualitative approach will be adopted to explain, interpret and analyze the information gathered through secondary sources. Researcher will try to find out the trends and patterns from available information qualitatively to understand the possible scope and challenges for Islamic finance in UK.

Denscomb M (2007) argued that in qualitative approach data is presented in words and images. This approach is adopted where researcher deals will problems related to social sciences or researcher try to explain the points using words or images.

In proposed research, researcher is also using words and images to explore and explain the facts regarding Islamic finance. But researcher will not restrict him/herself to qualitative approach and will also use numbers and figures if needed. So researcher will mostly rely on qualitative approach but also can use qualitative data.

Quantitative approach

According to Denscomb M (2007) in qualitative approach data is collected or analyzed using numbers or figures.