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ISLAMIC FINANCE & CAPITAL MARKETS

ESG to Spur Demand For Green Sukuk as Sustainable Assets Top $40 Trillion: Moody’s

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  • Sustainable assets reached $40 trillion in 2020
  • Islamic financial services worth $2.4 trillion

RIYADH: Demand for green sukuk will benefit from rising global investor appetite for ESG, according to Moody’s ESG Solutions.

It comes as sustainable assets reached $40 trillion in 2020, far in excess of the $2.4 trillion total size of the Islamic financial services industry.
“This illustrates the potential for a much larger pool of investors for green and sustainable Islamic bonds,” Rahul Ghosh, managing director – ESG outreach and research at Moody’s ESG Solutions, told Arab News. “Demand for green and sustainable sukuk will benefit from robust growth in institutional investor demand for ESG products, given the natural crossover of sustainable investing and Islamic finance in integrating societal impacts.”
The rise of investing that prioritizes environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is rapidly reshaping the Gulf’s financial landscape as corporations increasingly weave ESG principles into their businesses and borrowings.


The synergies with Shariah-compliant investing have also become apparent in some recent regional debt sales such as the $2.5 billion “sustainability sukuk” launched by Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank in March, with its proceeds used to finance both green and social development projects.

“In common with investors in Shariah-compliant products, some sustainable investors use screening strategies to avoid certain activities and products to better align themselves with the values and goals of developing a sustainable society,” said Ghosh. “Sukuk funding of environmentally sustainable projects, such as renewable energy assets, appeals to both traditional Islamic investors and conventional investors such as pension funds, asset managers and financial institutions.”

The trend could have major implications for Gulf states seeking to invest heavily in the renewables sector such as Saudi Arabia which aims to power half the country with renewable sources by 2030 under a green initiative.
The regional opportunity to deliver renewables projects and low carbon fuels was highlighted by Moody’s Investors Service last month in a report on the global energy transition “As a sunny region, the GCC has a natural competitive advantage in solar power, and its longtime experience with water desalinization offers a further edge to be able to capitalize on new technologies such as green hydrogen, produced through hydrolysis using power from the renewables,” it said.

Such projects represent a major opportunity for both ESG and Shariah-focused investing.
However, some challenges remain for the sector according to Ghosh.

“The market will need to overcome structural hurdles if it is to reach critical mass, however. For example, issuers face additional qualifying criteria, costs and reporting requirements to meet both green and Islamic markets standards.”

S&P Global Ratings also anticipates potential headwinds for the sector.

“The additional complexity of green sukuk and the slow implementation of the energy transition agenda suggest that market dynamics will not change in the next one-to-two years,” it said in a report this month.

COURTESY: arabnews.com/


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ISLAMIC FINANCE & CAPITAL MARKETS

The Future of Financial Services Talent

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Cities like Dubai and Singapore have witnessed an influx of financial services professionals from more traditional global financial hubs

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the `Great Resignation’ as many professionals reconsidered elements of their careers, including career progression, compensation, corporate culture, training opportunities, working arrangements, and wellbeing. Employers who are receptive to these new expectations are more likely to attract and retain talent. Financial institutions recognise that they can access a wider pool of talent if they improve their career development programmes.

Since the pandemic, large financial institutions have been providing more career opportunities at new offices in cities such as Dubai, as a way to retain current employees and attract new highly skilled professionals. Dubai offers an enticing array of benefits for international talent, including its strategic location, easy immigration processes and a high quality of life that supports a wide array of lifestyles.

The “Future of Financial Services Talent” report, the third in a series covering recent trends in Dubai’s financial industry, is a collaborative effort between DIFC and LSEG Data & Analytics. It offers an overview of the financial services talent landscape and insights into the new expectations talent has from employers, which will influence management styles in the industry. Furthermore, the report outlines DIFC’s value proposition as a global hub that attracts world-class specialized talent.

Click here to access the full report: 


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ISLAMIC FINANCE & CAPITAL MARKETS

Malaysia As An Islamic Finance Hub: From Humble Seed to Global Sun

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Malaysia’s rise as the world’s premier Islamic finance hub is a compelling tale of vision, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to ethical principles. It’s a story not just of numbers and financial products, but of a nation transforming itself into a beacon of hope for a more equitable and sustainable financial future. Let’s delve into the key chapters of this remarkable journey:

Planting the Seeds: 1960s-1980s – A Spark Ignites

While the concept of Islamic finance predates modern history, its modern incarnation began in the 1960s. In Malaysia, the embers of change were first stoked in the 1980s with the establishment of Bank Islam, the nation’s first dedicated Islamic bank. This pioneering step, however, faced challenges like limited awareness and nascent regulations. The industry remained a small sapling, yearning for sunlight and nourishment.

Blossoming Under Policy Sun: 1990s-2000s – Government Nurturing Propels Growth

The 1990s witnessed a transformative downpour. Recognizing the economic and ethical potential of Islamic finance, the Malaysian government adopted a proactive approach. Landmark initiatives like the Islamic Banking Act of 1989 and the establishment of the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) provided the vital nutrients the industry needed to flourish.

With government backing, public trust blossomed. Innovative products like sukuk bonds and microfinance options catering to diverse needs emerged, painting the financial landscape with vibrant hues of Sharia-compliant solutions. By the early 2000s, Malaysia had transformed from a humble sapling to a thriving tree, attracting international investors and solidifying its position as a regional Islamic finance hub.

Beyond Banking: 2010s-Present – Diversification Unfurls New Branches

The past decade has seen the Malaysian Islamic finance ecosystem diversify beyond mere banking. Sharia-compliant insurance, capital markets, wealth management, and fintech solutions have taken root, creating a sprawling canopy of ethical financial activity. This diversification strengthened Malaysia’s position as a comprehensive one-stop shop for global investors seeking Sharia-compliant solutions.

Specifying Milestones:

  • 1983: Bank Islam, the first dedicated Islamic bank in Malaysia, established.
  • 1990: Islamic Banking Act of 1989 laid the legal foundation for the industry.
  • 1993: International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) established, becoming a global leader in Islamic finance education.
  • 1998: International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) launched, facilitating cross-border sukuk issuance.
  • 2004: Global Sukuk Challenge launched, driving innovation and growth in the sukuk market.
  • 2008: Financial Sector Blueprint 2009-2015 introduced initiatives to further develop the Islamic finance industry.
  • 2011: Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) established a dedicated Islamic Capital Market Unit.
  • 2016: Financial Services Act 2013 implemented, creating a single regulatory framework for all financial institutions, including Islamic finance providers.

Looking Ahead: A Future Rooted in Innovation and Ethics

Today, Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry boasts a robust infrastructure, a diverse product range, and a thriving ecosystem of players. It contributes significantly to the national economy, attracting foreign investment, creating jobs, and promoting financial inclusion. But Malaysia’s ambitions reach beyond its present borders.

The country is actively embracing technological advancements, with blockchain and big data being explored to enhance reach and efficiency. Research and development initiatives are paving the way for new Sharia-compliant instruments, ensuring Malaysia remains at the forefront of Islamic finance innovation.


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ISLAMIC FINANCE & CAPITAL MARKETS

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Advocates Shift to Islamic Finance for Economic Growth

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Nigeria’s Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, addressed a gathering in Abuja, shedding light on the Federal Government’s decision to embrace Islamic Finance as an alternative economic model. Edun highlighted the pressing need to move away from “elevated high levels” of interest-based financing, stating that global financial dynamics can no longer sustain such practices.

Speaking at a program organized by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), Edun pointed out that both man-made and natural shocks have driven interest rates to unsustainable heights. He emphasized how these elevated rates have become a significant constraint on development, particularly due to the soaring cost of borrowing.

“The detrimental impact of high interest rates makes it impossible to access the funds needed for development, infrastructure, and even social services,” stated Minister Edun, underlining the severe consequences on vital sectors such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare.

In a notable shift towards alternative financing, Edun drew attention to a recent $30 million grant from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), dedicated to climate action and adaptation in Nigeria. What sets this grant apart is that it was funded through Islamic finance principles, signaling a change in the landscape of available resources.

“Funds these days are with those who practice Islamic finance. You better follow the money,” urged Edun, pointing to the increasing prominence of Islamic finance in global financial flows.

Edun stressed the importance of a deeper understanding and utilization of Islamic finance, labeling it “a veritable tool for financing development,” as endorsed by the IFSB (Islamic Financial Services Board). He emphasized the imperative of harnessing the potential of Islamic finance to fuel economic growth effectively.

“With Nigeria’s objective of achieving rapid, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, it is crucial to learn from the IFSB and educate oneself to make optimal use of this financing tool,” said Edun.


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