FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 20th AUGUST 2015 

Press Release: Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance successfully launched on 30th July 2015.

The Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum (WIEFF) are delighted to announce the successful launch of its forum. To mark the formal launch an event was held at KPMG on 30th July 2015 where world-renowned scholar Sheikh Nizam Yaqoubi gave a keynote address amongst many other leading industry distinguished speakers. 

The Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum

WIEFF is an independent, international forum which aims to create a networking platform for industry professionals to meet, collaborate, support and promote the interests of the ethical and Islamic finance industry.

The long term vision of the forum is to achieve the expansion of the sector through educational seminars, events and promotion of best practice globally to the highest standards.

The goals of WIEFF are thus two fold:

1). To support, encourage and promote women globally in Islamic finance.

2). To create a platform which fosters links between the Islamic and ethical finance industry for the expansion and advancement of the sector. 

Headquartered in London, UK, WIEFF was founded in 2007 by Samina Akram a UN Ambassador of Peace, who also ranks amongst the 5th most influential woman in Islamic finance (ISFIRE Islamic Finance Review Magazine, 2013).

The forum began as an informal network bringing together industry professionals within the Islamic finance space to simply meet and share industry ideas. In 2013 the network branched out to include professionals from the ethical finance industry and came to be known as "The Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum" (WIEFF). 

WIEFF started with 30 keen enthusiasts and today has over 5000 professionals in over 20 countries. 


 The Growing Importance of the Islamic and Ethical Finance Industry

According to Samina Akram, Founder of WIEFF and MD at Samak Ethical Finance Ltd “Despite setbacks in the financial markets over the past few years business confidence within the Islamic finance and ethical finance space, has had the opposite effects and is returning in a huge way.”

According to the report by Standards & Poor's - Islamic Finance Outlook 2015 the Islamic finance market is valued at 1.8 trillion and is likely to sustain double-digit growth over the coming few years to reach estimates of $3 trillion. Industry reports claim the market has been growing at an average rate of 20.4% over the past few years. 

A similar story seems to be unfolding within the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) space. According to Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), SRI investing has continued to expand rapidly. Since its inception in 2006 PRI has nearly 1,400 signatories world wide. It's signatory base represents $59 trillion of assets under management (AUM) as of April 2015, a 29% year on year increase. 

Investors are also demanding transparency on Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) related issues. According to market commentators there is growing evidence which suggests ESG factors when integrated into the firms investment analysis and decision making channels can and do have a positive impact on the companies long term financial performance. 

Samer Hijazi, Director at KPMG's Financial Services practice, who leads the firms global Islamic finance and investment group, with a network of professionals in 37 countries, believes  “Principles which underpin Islamic Finance, SRI and ESG have many similarities and overlap considerably. Islamic finance principles give clear guidelines with how we should deal with money. Under Shariah law money has no intrinsic value - it is only a measure of value, as it has has no value itself, we can not charge for its use, therefore there is a firm prohibition on usury. Wealth must be generated from legitimate trade and must be asset based investments, wealth must be invested within the community to improve the economic wellbeing. The accumulation of wealth isn't just measured by the monetary gain but by the benefit wealth brings to the wider society. The social and ethical benefit must therefore be at the heart of the owners wealth. This concept is very similar to SRI where the investment strategy seeks to consider both financial return and social good. WIEFF with its unique reach across mainstream financial markets will serve as an important platform for much needed awareness and dialogue.”

According to certain market reports companies today have have no choice but to behave in a more honest, transparent and ethical manner. According to KPMG's 2014 report called A New Vision of Value: Connecting corporate and societal value creation. The report claims 

“With the advent of digital technology and social media, people are more aware of what companiesare doing and have channels through which to voice their opinions and take action. Furthermore, as wealth and living standards increase, people feel more empowered to stand up for their own interests. Other social trends, such as plummeting trust in business and increasing anger over financial inequality, are also increasing public scrutiny of companies.

As a result, many companies are responding to stakeholder action by doing more to understand and address their externalities and societal value creation.” 

Samina Akram, Founder of WIEFF and MD at Samak Ethical Finance Ltd believes: “Never before have the concepts of honestly, integrity, ethics, transparency and putting the 'clients interests' at the heart of the business been so widely discussed. These are all positive steps for long term change and we hope WIEFF will provide a platform to penetrate the mainstream ethical global markets to ultimately create a larger positive market.”

Sultan Choudhury, Chief Executive Officer of Al Rayan Bank, the UK’s only wholly Sharia compliant retail bank, recently named by Global Finance Magazine as one of the best Islamic banks in the world said, “Increasing numbers of customers, of all faiths, are choosing to bank with Al Rayan Bank; attracted not only by our competitive products, but also our ethical approach to banking.  Al Rayan Bank is built and run on ethical principles, derived from trade, entrepreneurship and risk-sharing; and these are relevant to customers of all faiths.

We have been recognised as an ethical alternative to conventional banking by the Move Your Money campaign, and are listed in the top 10 ethical current account providers, according to ratings compiled by Ethical Consumer magazine. We feel proud to be serving a market which has the potential to bring about so much social and positive good.

We wish WIEFF every success with this platform to further educate on the growing ethical alternatives to conventional banking.”

Time For Women To Reach More Senior Roles 

Over the years, we are beginning to see more and more women beginning to play increasingly important role in the development of the Islamic and ethical finance industries. Although the industry has been slow to open its doors to women. Many obstacles and challenges still remain for women to progress within the sector. 

There are many reports and studies which highlight a reduction in the gender gap would result in faster and greater economic growth. Women constitute half the potential human capital work force, female representation will add much value and can act as a key force for industry competitiveness. Women who once were so dependent on men have gradually over time taken control over their finances and contribute directly to economic progress. It's extremely important these women have a voice in the industry and rise the ranks of the organisations which can better serve their needs. 

Harris Irfan author of Heavens Bankers: Inside the Hidden World of Islamic Finance and Managing Director of European Islamic Investment Bank believes, 


 “WIEFF will reinforce the message ESG and SRI can be a powerful ally and partner for Islamic Finance. However, much work needs to be done on closing the gender gap. Whilst Malaysia is impressively progressive in this regard, many other countries are lagging.  Women have virtually zero representation at board level in Islamic banks and very little at senior management.  Unless this issue is addressed, the culture of Islamic finance will be little different to the culture of conventional finance.”

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin said, “Developing the UK’s Islamic finance market is a key part of our long term plan to make Britain the undisputed centre of the global financial system. That’s why we became the first country outside of the Islamic world to issue a sovereign Sukuk last year.

“Expanding the representation of women in senior roles in the financial services sector would be a real boost for the industry. That’s why I welcomed the review that Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the chief executive of Virgin Money, has agreed to lead into how women are represented in senior managerial roles.

“And I’m delighted to hear about the launch of the Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum, which is a positive step forward in promoting the participation of women in this important sector.”


 Abayomi Alawode, Head of Islamic Finance at the World Bank Group agrees and is equally supportive, “WIEFF is an important platform for promoting the inclusion of women and strengthening links between Islamic finance and the ethical finance industry. Islamic finance is a growth area for the World Bank Group’s Finance and Markets Global Practice and we are keen to enhance our focus on how Islamic finance can benefit women in our client countries, especially in terms of improved access to financial services. We are also interested in fostering links between the Islamic and ethical finance industries and will be working with WIEFF to explore opportunities for collaboration in these areas.”

 

WIEFF Successfully Launched
WIEFF launched its platform on 30th July 2015.  To mark its launch an event was held at KPMG where over 200 guests from the UK and abroad attended.  The launch event was marked by a keynote address by the world-renowned scholar Sheikh Nizam Yaquby entitled "The Role Women have Played in the Development of the Islamic Finance Industry." With particular reference to Lady Khadija tul Kubra's contributions to business, trade and Islamic finance'. The key note was followed by a panel discussion by leading senior industry practitioners, which focused on the themes of 'Reflections from the financial crises. Restoring ethics and integrity into the financial system'.

Other speakers for the evening included:

Sue Langley CEO of UK Financial Services Organisation (UKTI), Non-Executive for UKAR (Northern Rock Asset Management and Bradford and Bingley).

Farmida Bi, Partner, Islamic Finance, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

Karen Briggs, Partner, KPMG LLP 

Mark Seligman, Master of The Worshipful Company of International Bankers, former Chairman of UK Investment Banking at Credit Suisse and a former member of Credit Suisse's Global Investment Banking Executive Board.

The event was supported by British Bankers Association (BBA), UK Trade and Investment (UKTI),  The Worshipful Company of International Bankers (WCIB), The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), Islamic Finance news and IslamicBanker.com


 Contact WIEFF: 

For more information about WIEFF please visit our website: www.womenieff.org. For further details please contact us at: info@womenieff.org. You can also join us on Twitter: @EthicalForum. 

Moody's Partners With the Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum

NEW YORK, August 7, 2020 /3BL Media/ - Moody’s Corporation (NYSE:MCO) today announced its partnership with the Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum (WIEFF) to further support its longstanding commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace, and the development of Islamic finance.

Founded in 2007, the London-based WIEFF is an independent, international forum that aims to create a networking platform for industry professionals to meet, collaborate and support the interests of the ethical and Islamic finance industry. As a partner of WIEFF, Moody’s will lead a mentoring program to support and expand the interests of women in the ethical and Islamic finance industry. Through educational seminars and events, Moody’s will also help to promote best practices globally.

“Moody’s is committed to a diverse and inclusive culture that maximizes the contribution of all our employees,” said DK Bartley, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Moody’s. “We are delighted to join the Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum to support our organisations’ respective goals and the development of the Islamic finance industry.”

Building on two decades of experience in the region, Moody’s opened an office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2018. Last year, Moody’s hosted its inaugural Saudi Arabia Conference with more than 150 local investors, issuers and intermediaries. In the same year, the company was awarded a Global Islamic Finance Award (GIFA) as market leaders for Islamic Finance Intelligence & Ratings for the fourth consecutive year.

Moody's continues to expand its ratings coverage of the Islamic finance industry. As of June 25, 2020, Moody’s rates 114 sukuk issuances, 20 Islamic banks, 3 multilateral development banks and 9 Takaful.

“The Islamic finance sector remains underrepresented in the global financial system,” said Henry MacNevin, Associate Managing Director, Financial Institutions, Moody’s. “Despite this, the sector has displayed strong growth over the past decade, and we expect this trend to continue. Moody’s is proud to join the Women in Islamic & Ethical Finance Forum to help make the global financial system more inclusive.”

ABOUT MOODY’S CORPORATION

Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) is a global integrated risk assessment firm that empowers organizations to make better decisions. Our data, analytical solutions and insights help decision-makers identify opportunities and manage the risks of doing business with others. We believe that greater transparency, more informed decisions, and fair access to information open the door to shared progress. With over 11,300 employees in more than 40 countries, Moody’s combines international presence with local expertise and over a century of experience in financial markets. Learn more at moodys.com/about.


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