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Muscat, Oman, United Arab Emirates, 2008/06/01 - The Islamic Funds and Investments Report 2008 (IFIR 2008), released at the World Islamic Funds and Capital Markets Conference by Ernst & Young, states that Shari’a sensitive investable assets in the GCC and Far East have reached US$267 billion.
This translates into a potential annual revenue pool of US$1.34 billion for the Islamic asset management industry. The report focuses on markets in the GCC, Malaysia and Indonesia.
At the end of March 2008, there were over 500 Shari’a compliant funds in the world, 153 of which were established in 2007 alone. According to projections contained in the report, the total number of Islamic funds could reach 1,000 by 2010.
IFIR 2008 includes an analysis of the Islamic investment patterns of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) and of pension funds. SWFs in the GCC and Far East are estimated to hold assets worth almost US$1.3 trillion while pensions funds in the GCC have estimated assets of over US$46 billion. SWFs in the GCC are financed by soaring oil revenues while those in the Far East tend to be financed through reserves or debt. Although they were not originally set up to be Shari’a compliant, both pension funds and SWFs often engage in ethical investment strategies – which fit in neatly with Islamic instruments.
The report highlights some of the contrasts between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, the two largest markets for Islamic asset management in the world, explaining why they need to be approached with differing investment strategies. Many investors in Saudi Arabia consider Islamic products to be ‘preferable’ – meaning that they will often choose an Islamic option over a conventional alternative even if the projected returns are not quite as favourable. While there are 120 Islamic mutual funds in Saudi Arabia (accounting for 55% of the total), investment strategies in Saudi Arabia have, until now, remained focused on equities. In Malaysia, Islamic products are ‘accepted’ – meaning that investors are prepared to consider both conventional and Shari’a compliant products. However, the enhanced depth of offerings across asset classes in Malaysia allows for competitive Islamic investment that attracts even non-Muslim investors. There are 134 Islamic mutual funds in Malaysia, accounting for just 10% of their total assets.
According to Sameer Abdi, Head of Ernst & Young’s Islamic Finance Services Group, “At a time when the GCC is enjoying unprecedented oil revenues, Islamic asset management will only gain more significance on the world stage. The industry is still in its early growth stages as the Islamic funds landscape exhibits a number of gaps and lacks depth in some asset classes. But there are many ways in which market participants can prepare themselves to benefit from this sector as it matures.”
Touching upon the risks faced by Islamic asset managers as outlined in IFIR 2008, Omar Bitar, Managing Partner, Business Advisory at Ernst & Young Middle East, said, “While competitive pressures on the Islamic financial services industry are compounded by the open-market nature of asset management, human resources continues to be a key risk to Islamic asset managers. In addition, they need to develop the sort of coverage in terms of geographies and asset classes held by their conventional counterparts.”
IFIR 2007 underlined the critical need for product development across asset classes to provide investment opportunities and support growth of the Shari’a compliant wealth management industry. This second edition of the report explores the ways in which the burgeoning Islamic asset management industry is exploiting those opportunities and meeting those challenges. It highlights continued economic growth across key markets and the resultant increase in liquidity held by major investor segments. It details demand-supply considerations across these investor segments and across geographical markets, before offering conclusions on existing and predicted gaps in Shari’a compliant products and service offerings. The report examines key strategic risks currently affecting the Islamic asset management industry and mitigating strategies being adopted by market leaders.
About Ernst & Young’s Islamic Finance Services Group
IFSG (ey.com) is a specialist group within Ernst & Young that caters to the specific needs of both Islamic and conventional financial institutions requiring Islamic financial advisory services. IFSG offers turn-key advice, from strategy development, to building operational frameworks and product suites. The Group has also been actively involved with assisting central banks and regulatory authorities in South East Asia, the Asian Subcontinent and North America.