Saturday, January 16

Long-term potential for Islamic finance remains promising post Covid-19 globally — Bursa chief

0

Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar

KUALA LUMPUR: The long-term potential for Islamic finance would remain promising globally in a post Covid-19 environment due to its principles of inclusivity and the potential to promote financial stability, said Bursa Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar.

He said as policies slowly shifted towards ensuring sustainable development, Sustainable and Responsible Investments (SRIs) would help broaden the reach of Islamic finance, due to the close alignment and high degree of overlap.

“Malaysia is widely acknowledged as being at the forefront of Islamic finance, mainly due to a conducive ecosystem, effective regulatory framework and strong human capital development,” he said at the virtual Shariah Audit Conference 2020 yesterday.

Abdul Wahid said Malaysia had achieved some noteworthy milestones with several industry ‘firsts‘ and innovations for the Islamic fund management, resulting in a wide array of Islamic products introduced in the market; thus, making Malaysia the largest global Islamic fund in terms of asset under management.

“In the equity market, Bursa Malaysia‘s shariah-compliant investing platform positions the exchange as a global marketplace for shariah listing and investments,” he said.

He said as at October this year, 718 out of 937 listed companies, or 77 per cent, were shariah-compliant – making up about 72 per cent of total market capitalisation.

Abdul Wahid said the quest to get shariah auditing into mainstream, the high increase in demand for shariah-compliant financial products had raised the importance of more refined investment screening process and audit.

“Some of the issues faced are the inconsistencies in the screening methods across different countries and organisations, as having too many different methodologies adds cost, and in the long run, could hamper the growth of Islamic finance,” he pointed out.

He noted that shariah auditing would be an initiative that would ensure compliance and maintain the credibility of Islamic finance among stakeholders, providing them with greater independence of shariah assurance.

Abdul Wahid said there had been little understanding about the implementation of appropriate shariah audit framework towards an effective and efficient audit from human capital perspective and as such, there was a need to increase talent in shariah audit.

“In Malaysia, the current focus is primarily on internal shariah audit, which has raised several debates on its independence, in which numerous challenges, including the limited availability of qualified resources, have prevented the successful implementation of external shariah audits.

“The scarce resource of both shariah and auditing qualifications, as well as the lack of experience, pose a threat to shariah audit independence that may adversely affect the integrity of organisations,” he said.

Moreover, he said the competency requirements for Shariah auditors had yet to be fully developed.

“There is a considerable growth potential for firms to offer shariah auditing services to institutions outside of Malaysia as part of the country’s Islamic finance ancillary services,” he said, adding that issues on shariah auditing standards, qualifications and independence must be resolved for the smooth development of the Islamic finance industry. — Bernama