Although the Shariah-compliant retail financial services industry is still in the early stages of development in many markets, there are some lessons and best practice issues emerging in the industry. This report looks at the likely trends within this market and assesses the future potential for growth in mortgage finance, credit cards and wealth management.
Islamic banking has witnessed significant growth since it was formally launched and has since been boosted by the repatriation of Middle Eastern funds and economic development in that region. Given the favourable demographic trends within core markets, growth is set to continue. In addition, major international financial services firms have launched Shariah-compliant businesses; The UK, US and Singapore all witnessed the establishment of independent Shariah-compliant financial institutions; and regulators of major Islamic banking markets agreed on regulatory standards governing Islamic banking activities. As the re-structuring of global financial services continues, and previously well established financial players attempt to re-position themselves with core audiences, many are arguing that Islamic banking practices have shielded institutions and their customers from the consequences of the credit crunch. As a result, shariah models have gained favour with non Muslim customers looking for an alternative financial model with a prominent moral foundation. At the same time industry observers feel that the continued expansion of product lines has the potential to blur the lines between Islamic and other 'more mainstream' types of finance.