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OVERVIEW

NEWHORIZON July–September 2008

‘Tartan sukuk’ a possibility?

NewHorizon takes a brief look at the development of Islamic finance in Scotland.

Scotland has a long and established history in

finance and investment. It boasts impressive

industries in insurance, fund management,

private wealth as well as in banking. Two of

the leading banks in the UK, HBOS and RBS,

have their global headquarters in Edinburgh.

Either directly or indirectly Scotland employs

around 100,000 in the financial services

industry, which accounts for around eight per

cent of Scottish GDP, well above the overall

UK rate. The Scottish asset management

industry controls around £450 billion ($880

billion) of assets with many clients and

investments originating overseas. Scotland

has a growing Muslim population with

figures ranging between 40,000 and 50,000

who are increasingly looking for Shari’ahcompliant

banking products and services.

Asians’ wealth in Scotland is estimated to be

in excess of £300 million ($580 million) and

the Shari’ah-compliant market is quoted at

about £150 million ($290 million).

Against this backdrop, Scotland has two

distinctive characteristics which position it

well to be a key contributor in promoting

UK as a leader in the global Islamic finance

industry. Scotland’s strong heritage in ethical

finance is a prime fit for Islamic finance,

which as a result of Shari’ah regulation can

be viewed as a sub-set of ethical finance.

Trustee Savings Bank (TSB), now part of

Lloyds TSB, was founded in Scotland

through an initiative in 1810 by the Rev

Henry Duncan, a famous Scot, often

referred to as the ‘Father of Savings Banks’.

Scotland has contributed significantly to the

co-operative financial movement. The

‘mutual trust’ background of many Scottish

companies such as Scottish Equitable,

Scottish Life and Scottish Widows also lent

itself to long term investing based on

prudent principles with an ethical slant.

Both the co-operative and mutual

movements have a lot in common with

Islamic finance. Scotland has a proven track

record in innovation and pioneering

development within new market segments.

Over the years Scottish financial services

firms have developed investment trusts,

‘with-profit’ funds, unit trusts, overseas

equities and emerging market investments

and now the industry is increasingly looking

to embrace Islamic finance as a further level

of innovation.

On the retail side, there were initial

challenges in tailoring Islamic mortgages to

Scots law. This was successfully overcome

by United National Bank, assisted by their

lawyers Tods Murray LLP, and since 2005

they have been actively servicing the market.

Graham Burnside, partner at Tods Murray

and board member of the Islamic Finance

Council (IFC), structured a solution that

complies both with Islamic and Scots law.

‘While we were initially compelled to

rethink the mortgage structure adopted in

England because of differences in our

property laws, the alternative we have

established, based on co-ownership, is in

some respects closer to Shari’ah principles

than the English model,’ he states. There are

now no legal or fiscal barriers, to providing

Shari’ah-compliant property financing in

Scotland (stamp duty relief was extended to

Scotland in 2005). Scotland is often

recognised as one of the richest per capita

segments of the UK Muslim community.

Barclays Wealth has launched a number of

Islamic products to compliment the range it

already offers, and the drive to help Muslims

manage their money was led by Barclays

Wealth in Scotland. Saftar Sarwar, a private

banker at Barclays Wealth and a board

member of the IFC, notes that ‘the Scottish

Muslim community is increasingly looking

for choices for their wealth requirements.

Now the banks and other financial firms are

looking to provide such choices to them –

deliver to them what they want’.

Glasgow Central

Mosque, Scotland

Lloyds TSB is offering Islamic banking

products and services in UK, with an Islamic

current account facility available in Scotland.

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership has a

global Islamic fund (managed from

Edinburgh) available to institutional as well as

retail investors. CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), an

international commercial real estate company,

has been involved in high value bespoke

Shari’ah-compliant commercial property deals

in Glasgow.

In 2005 the IFC was established by its

chairman, Tariq Masood Shaikh, to promote

Islamic finance in Scotland to ensure that all

Muslims and other believers in ethical finance

have the opportunity to conduct their

financial dealings according to their faith.

‘We view Islamic finance as an inclusive

proposition open for all,’ says Shaikh. ‘Our

projects are designed to promote the industry

globally but also locally, to ensure that

Scotland and the broader UK benefits from

the growth and opportunities the Islamic

finance sector brings.’ At a national level, the

IFC has engaged with the Scottish

government to support their strategy for

Islamic finance. The IFC responded to the

Scottish Futures Trust Bond consultation and

has met with the First Minister, Alex

Salmond, to discuss Islamic finance. Maybe a

‘tartan sukuk’ could be issued before the UK

Treasury finalises its plans?

20 IIBI www.newhorizon-islamicbanking.com

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