GIFIGFajr Capital’s CEO, Iqbal Khan, and Managing Director, Javed Ahmad, attended the inaugural meeting of the Global Islamic Finance and Investment Group (IFIG) in London last week, hosted by Rt Hon Baroness Warsi.

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 the Islamic financial services industry, and to use the members’ extensive expertise to support growth and prosperity. The group includes Premiers, Ministers, CEOs, Central Bank Governors and regulators.

The meeting on 26 March 2014 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 values 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.
  • Investment: the group recognised the huge investment potential both outside of and within the Muslim world – where an estimated 72% of Muslims are “unbanked” – and that insurance and pension funds are underdeveloped across the Muslim world. The Group agreed to consider an engagement strategy for potential investors, looking at: (a) innovative Islamic Finance products for the tech savvy generation; (b) the potential of the Waqf ; and (c) long-term development opportunities in the Takaful market – a source of long-term capital and potentially a big growth area.

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.”