Sharia-compliant private wealth institutions see growth in female clientele

Date: 04 Nov 2015

Bumblebee Design

Michael Williams, CEO of Bank of London and the Middle East, says that with the rise of women in the workforce, sharia-compliant private wealth institutions will move towards services that target women specifically.

Why an increasing number of non-Muslim UHNW clients opt for sharia-compliant private banking and wealth management?

There are several reasons why clients select sharia-compliant investments and services. Firstly, they are competitive products that provide diversification to investments and asset allocation models. Secondly, Islamic finance is generally considered more ethical which is appealing to those clients looking for a more ethical form of wealth management. Finally, investors are looking for diversification in their portfolios and their financial advisers and providers.

What major sharia-compliant projects or deals have you been involved in recently?

We have recently financed a property in Chester Square and the Belgravia property which will now become a luxury six bedroom family home with leisure facilities and staff accommodation set over six floors.

A few years ago, David Cameron was talking about making London one of the world’s “greatest capitals of Islamic finance.” What does the UK government do to boost this sector?

The Government has taken several positive steps alongside the UK regulators. In 2014, the Government issued a sovereign Sukuk that provided additional liquidity to the UK Islamic finance sector as well as demonstrating the UK’s commitment to innovation in finance and Islamic finance in particular. Regulations were also adjusted to ensure a more level playing field for Islamic banks in the UK. However, since Baroness Warsi resigned and Sajid Javid moved from the Treasury in mid-2014, there has been a lack of a single strong voice in the Government championing Islamic finance.

What trends do you see in the private wealth sector?

There will be a move toward services that target women specifically. On a global basis women have entered the workforce in larger numbers, are controlling an increasing amount of wealth and taking a more active interest in how that wealth is managed.

We also expect to see, particularly in the Gulf Cooperation Council that includes countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, a move away from wealthy clients using one large multinational bank for all their financial requirements and accessing experts such as local providers, sector specialists such as property financiers or Islamic specialists. We see this often in GCC clients approaching us to access the UK real estate market.