UKIFC welcome new Board Members - Richard de Belder & Dr Nasir Ahmad

As the activities of UKIFC continue to successfully grow the UKIFC has begun a process of expanding its Advisory Board. The Islamic finance industry is now worth over $2trillion and the increasing demand and interest in the sector has resulted in multiple organisations reaching out to the UKIFC for assistance.

Tariq Masood, UKIFC Chairman, commented "Over the past few years the UKIFC has grown considerably as our pioneering activities begin to make impact and achieve global recognition. We have been the main UK Islamic finance body driving the ethical finance debate focusing on the convergence of Islamic and ethical finance, holding the first ever interfaith ethical finance roundtable with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Our work empowering shariah scholars through a conventional markets training programme and our seminal research, Enhancing Shariah Assurance, has led to a number of international regulators upgrading their regulatory frameworks in line with our recommendations. This along with our other work has made real impact and Alhumdulilah credit is due to the dedication, expertise and professionalism of our multi-award winning team."

"I am delighted to announce our first wave of new Board Members Dr Nasir Ahmad and Richard de Belder. I am sure with their extensive experience and enthusiasm they will help take the UKIFC through the next stage of its journey."

Dr Nasir commented, "I believe the Islamic Finance Council UK has made a positive contribution, over the years, to the development of Islamic finance in the UK and overseas via its broad but focused set of activities and its dedicated staff. I welcome the opportunity to join the UKIFC as an Advisory Board member. I am looking forward to supporting the Council's efforts, to enhance the global Islamic and ethical finance industry, especially in the areas of risk and financial regulation, given my experience and the increasing importance of both these aspects across financial services. "

Dr Nasir Ahmad is currently a partner at Ernst & Young and specialises in risk and regulatory services to financial institutions. He has 20 years of international experience in financial risk management in banking, consulting, and academia, based out of Europe, Middle-East and Canada. Dr Ahmad has lead several risk and regulatory engagements, covering credit, market, operational and liquidity risks, including the implementation of Basel II and III programmes, Eurozone instability planning, stress testing, quantitative model development for complex derivatives, risk MI, internal control systems.

The UKIFC have recently become the only UK Islamic finance promotional body to become members of IFSB. Benefiting from Dr Nasir's expertise in Basel III, the IFC aim to promote IFSB activities through our footprint in the UK and beyond.

Also joining Dr Nasir, is Richard de Belder a partner with the international law firm Dentons who heads up the global co-ordination of the firm's Islamic Finance practice. Since the late 1990s he has been involved in a wide range of Shari'ah-compliant finance transactions working with leading Shari'ah scholars to create ground breaking structures and internationally recognised solutions. He previously chaired the Legal Group of the UK Islamic Finance Secretariat (UKIFS) and in 2013 was one of seven non-ministerial members of the UK Government's Islamic Finance Task Force.

Commenting on his appointment he said, "'I have known Omar Shaikh for a long time and have admired the work that the Islamic Finance Council UK has done to promote Islamic finance in a range of areas, including developing the ethical values of Islamic finance, encouraging research into areas that could be developed and its training initiatives such as its programme to assist Shari'ah scholars - which I have had the opportunity to engage in.  So the opportunity to assist the UKIFC in its work is something that I am very excited about and I am looking forward to working with the other team members to develop and expand its initiatives to encourage and facilitate the growth of Islamic finance."



Scotland leading the ethical finance debate 

With a proud and respected heritage in the financial sector, such as the pioneering development of savings banks and mutual life companies, and a growing reputation for driving forward today’s ethical finance debate, Scotland is on the cusp of becoming a key player in the global market. 

Scotland’s contribution to the ethical finance movement has been recognised internationally and, according to experts in the sector such as the Islamic Finance Council UK (IFC), the country has a unique opportunity to become a leader in this rapidly developing field.

This is the backdrop to the Ethical Finance Round Table (EFRT) taking place in Edinburgh today in which Bola Gibson, of TSB Banking Group, will discuss the Group’s approach to building a trusted mainstream bank, as well as a discussion on the prospects for developing a “kite-mark” for ethical financial products led by Julian Parrott of Ethical Futures.

The IFC launched the EFRT series in 2010 as Scotland’s only systematic platform bringing together the various strands in the broad ethical finance arena. It has attracted speakers from across the world and has now become one of the UK’s leading ethical finance discussion platforms.

Martina Macpherson, Managing Partner of London based SI Partners – oekom research UK, who presented at the last EFRT in October said: “Since the 1980s, ethical and sustainable investment has grown into a complex industry. Green and ethical retail funds in the UK now have more than £13.5 billion invested, up from £6.5 billion just a decade ago. In addition, a range of studies have shown that ethical investment funds can beat their benchmarks and even outperform many of their non–ethical counterparts.”

Around 35 bodies will be represented at this today’s event including Church of Scotland, Heriot Watt University, mlm Solutions, Scottish Government, ScotWest Credit Union, Social Investment Scotland, Standard Life Investments and The Charity Bank.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, IFC Advisory Board member Omar Shaikh commented on the progress the EFRT has made. He said:

“The roundtables have become a great success. The depth and variety of the insights has been truly impressive and the willingness to learn from each other’s experience has highlighted real synergies. The ongoing banking failures have made many in society keen to see a more responsible form of finance. The roundtable debates are playing a key role towards defining terms such as ethical and responsible.”

A direct output of the EFRT series has been the establishment of a Government-backed steering group tasked with assessing the feasibility of establishing a Scottish Ethical Finance Hub (SEFH), a concept which emerged at previous meetings and gained strong support from participants. The SEFH’s role would be to facilitate commercial investment, R&D and thought leadership as required for developing and testing ethics-based models of banking and finance, and enhance international engagement.

Ms Macpherson commented: “an ethical finance hub that leads the way in knowledge exchange, innovation and best practice will build bridges between industry, academia, religious groups and politics. It will confirm Scotland’s role in ethical and sustainable investment decision-making, within the UK, Europe and beyond, for years to come.”

Complementing the EFRT, this year will see Dubai based Middle East Global Advisors (MEGA) host the inaugural Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF) in Edinburgh in early September, bringing together key stakeholders from the Gulf, Asia and Europe to explore the global convergence of standards in the ethical sector.

The decision to select Scotland as the host country for the first GEFF was driven in large part by Scotland’s very strong heritage in ethical finance. Ehsan Abbas, Chairman of MEGA, lauded Scotland’s “immeasurable contribution to the creation of financial institutions and early professional bodies specializing in ethical finance.”

Graham Burnside, IFC Advisory Board Member, strongly believes that ethics and business can go hand-in-hand: “The demand for increased social responsibility and ethical behaviour is quickly becoming a major transformative force within the global financial services industry. We are particularly excited about the progress the EFRT series has made and see the SEFH as a genuine opportunity for Scotland to demonstrate true innovation on a global scale. Securing the GEFF event is a major coup for Scotland and we look forward to welcoming high profile speakers and attendees from across the world.”



The Islamic Finance Council UK (IFC) is a specialist advisory and development body established to promote and enhance the global Islamic and ethical finance industry. The IFC focuses on government policy advisory, ethical finance, shariah governance and executive training. To find out more visit us at

To find out more about GEFF2015 visit

For more information or to arrange interview then please contact Chris Tait, IFC, on 07931 103573, or 0207 193 6329 or

Ethical & Islamic finance - exploring collaboration and convergence

Unique may be an overused word nowadays, but the Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF) which took place in Edinburgh at the start of this month, September 2015,  for once justifies the description.  The gathering in Scotland’s capital, organised by Dubai-based MEGA Events and supported by the Scottish Government and the Islamic Finance Council UK (IFC), represented the first such event in Europe and saw an attendance of around 250 delegates from across the globe.

The subtitle of the conference, “Growing the global ethical finance industry through collaboration and convergence”, hints at the main thrust of the discussions, namely how the ethical finance and investment industry can be strengthened and developed by increased collaboration and mutual awareness between the socially responsible investment movement on the one hand and Islamic finance on the other.  A number of the GEFF sessions were expressly built around the convergences (or lack of them) between these two areas, with topics covered including comparative approaches to positive screening between Islamic finance and other areas of the ethical investment industry, the role of regulators and standard setting bodies in increasing connections between Islamic finance and other areas of the ethical sector; and exploring parallels and differences between sukuk and green bonds.

The panel discussion in which I took part personally focused on the question of how Islamic and other forms of responsible investment products could be “taken mainstream” without diluting their basic values.  Chaired by Ulrika Hasselgren, CEO of Ethix SRI Advisors, the panel also featured Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, Fergus Moffatt, Head of Public Policy at UKSIF and Scott Murray of Virtuo Wealth Management.  There was general consensus among the panel members that the presently fragmented state of the ethical finance world was a major stumbling block in seeking to expand its reach.  One aspect of the discussion centred on the question whether it would be practicable to establish fundamental standards which would be accepted across the industry as a whole; related issues raised included whether ethical products could be effectively rated, and if so how an “ethical ratings agency” might emerge, or whether it might even be possible to establish an “ethical finance kite-mark” for the benefit of retail product customers.  There was general acceptance that given the very wide-ranging origins of ethical investment, from Islamic and other faith-based products to those looking to environmental or social outcomes, it would be challenging to formulate an approach which could apply across the board (and indeed to identify who might provide this).  One area of agreement however was that there was still considerable work to be done in achieving sufficient clarity and transparency in investor-facing documentation.  There was consensus too that in seeking to widen the investment base for ethical products there was a constant need to guard against deleting core values with the effect of reducing the ethical element to a mere veneer or box-ticking exercise – as one panel member put it, while the boxes do still need to be ticked there must be real substance behind them.

The GEFF was book-ended by significant contributions from two eminent representatives of the world of Islamic finance.  The opening keynote speech was delivered by Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara, Malaysia who delivered a broad ranging review of the role of Islamic finance within the wider financial world and in particular the contribution its fundamental principles allow it to make to financial stability and to widening financial inclusion within emerging economies.  She also emphasised the importance of education within the sector, citing Malaysia’s role in establishing INCEIF, the global university of Islamic finance.  The closing session of the conference took the form of an extended interview with HRH Muhammad Sanusi II, Emir of Kano, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.  HRH Sanusi spoke powerfully about his role in combating corruption within the financial sector in his country and in enabling the Islamic finance industry within it during a particularly febrile period for community relations.

In conclusion it is worth mentioning that Scotland was a particularly apt destination for the inaugural GEFF.  Historically it has contributed perhaps more than any other country to the development of ethical finance – in addition to being the birthplace of Adam Smith (himself a powerful proponent of the ethical aspects of economics), Scotland was the cradle of the mutual insurance industry, from the foundation of Scottish Widows in 1815 onwards.  It was in early 19th century Scotland also that the Rev Henry Duncan laid the foundations of what was to become the savings bank movement, and it is a striking fact that when the first Islamic bank in the modern sense was established in Egypt in the 1960s those involved drew expressly on the experience of the Scottish savings bank movement.  As Omar Shaikh of the IFC teasingly suggested in his remarks at the conference opening, perhaps in addition to its many inventions in the fields of engineering and science from the steam engine onwards Scotland can also claim to have had a hand in the establishment of Islamic finance!


Graham Burnside

Advisory Board Member, Islamic Finance Council UK

Consultant, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP


To find out more about our work on ethical finance, click here.



UKIFC win British Muslim Award 2015 for services to finance and accounting

Held at The Chateau Impney Hotel, and hosted by Al Rayan Bank, the 3rd annual British Muslim Awards was held on the 27th of January 2015. The British Muslim Awards are designed to recognise a wide range of achievements which cover various aspects of society including business, charity, sport, arts and culture and much more. The event celebrates contribution and reflects the significant role that Britain’s Muslim have in society.

The not-for-profit work of the UKIFC in playing a key role in building out the Islamic Finance industry was recognised on the night and awarded for Best Services to Finance & Accounting 2015.

Euromoney London Islamic Finance and Investment Conference

On 11-12 February 2015, The Euromoney London Islamic Finance and Investment Conference will offer analysis of these new developments in the globalisation of the industry and bring together key market participants from the Islamic and conventional financial markets.

Join 300 primarily private sector financiers and investors from both the Shariah-compliant and conventional financial markets in February to understand why Islamic finance is moving into the mainstream - and what that means for your business and your clients.

Book your place today by visiting

CNN Arabic discuss the UK Government's role in Islamic finance

CNN Arabic discuss the UK Government's role in Islamic finance with IFC Board Member Omar Shaikh at the World Islamic Retail Banking Conference Dubai - click here.

Queen Mary University of London

Nov 2014, London - Umer Suleman, IFC Senior Manager was invited to deliver a lecture at the Queen Mary University of London on behalf of the Commercial Activity Society, on the topic of Islamic Finance.

The lecture was attended by students from various disciplines including Law, Economics and Politics and covered Islamic Finance both conceptually as well as from an industry perspective. Umer shared a broader perspective on the principles underlying Islamic economic philosophy within which contemporary Islamic finance aims to operate.

UKIFC discuss central shariah boards

Source: Bloomberg, Nov 2014

Dubai: If Dubai is serious about becoming the capital of the global Islamic economy, it may need to put its centralised Sharia board in place.

A year after the emirate set out plans to be the Islamic economic hub, it's seven months behind schedule in setting up a body that Moody's Investors Service said would help spur the emirate's sukuk market.

Dubai is still deliberating with the federal government to establish the board, according to Abdulla Mohammad Al Awar, chief executive officer of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC).
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Guardian Islamic Finance Supplement

The Guardian newspaper released its Islamic Finance supplement on the 23rd September highlighting global industry trends and showcasing the UK's contribution to the sector. The supplement included two contributions from the Islamic Finance Council UK,Read more

London Scholar CPD Session, 13th September 2014

The UKIFC successfully held the 9th UK Scholar Development session on Saturday 13th September 2014 in London at the PwC offices covering the topics of:

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