Islamic finance

With an estimated worth of $2 trillion, Islamic finance is an emerging market that requires an international approach, numeracy and good communication skills.

Hero image for Islamic finance

Islamic finance refers specifically
to the $2 trillion market of sharia compliant
products, which range
from those provided by investment
banks to Islamic retail operations. In
the Islamic world’s banking and
investment industry, financial
instruments are produced with the
guidance of a sharia board, whose job
is to ensure that products are
compatible with sharia law.

As such,
the constraints on financial practices
are established by Islamic law.
Consumer demand means that there
are various products and services
available to investors who wish to be
sharia compliant. The Islamic market
is hugely complex and guided by a
variety of different interests.
Due to the prohibition on the
payment of riba (interest),
investments must be structured
differently from conventional
financial products. Sharia-compliant
products must not only be halal (i.e.
not invested in prohibited assets such
as arms, tobacco or alcohol) but have
a responsibility to invest in products
that are beneficial to society. In this
way, Islamic financial products are
similar to SRIs (socially responsible
investments).

Available roles

Islamic finance roles are found within
all functions of banking and
investment companies, from asset
management to private banking. You
could find employment with an
international bank that offers sharia compliant
services to clients in
specific locations, or with an Islamic
company that markets its products in
a variety of financial centres.

Recent developments

Due to the role of sharia advisory
boards, Islamic finance is complex by
nature. Alongside professional bodies
and think tanks, these boards judge
existing products while advising on
the development of new products.
They ensure that the evolution of
sharia-compliant markets and
products can keep up with the
developments of other markets.
Financial centres are increasingly
attempting to attract Islamic
financial institutions and revenues by
adapting legislation to suit its
requirements.

In this respect, European markets have opened up in
recent years. It is also a growth area
for many countries in terms of female
careers.

Starting out

Graduate training schemes in Islamic
finance are limited (although this is
changing), but Islamic financial
products account for a significant
part of the work of many
international banks. An organisation’s
general training programme may
offer graduates a rotation spent with
a particular emphasis on sharia, with
training likely centred on a major
Islamic financial centre such as those
in the Gulf, Hong Kong or Malaysia.

Skills required

  • Foreign language proficiency is a
    requirement for some roles and
    highly useful for others. Graduates
    fluent in languages such as Arabic,
    Malay, Bahasa Indonesia or Bengali
    are sought after.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Numeracy.
  • Project management skills.
  • Negotiation skills
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