Global Islamic finance development, as measured by the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) global average value, declined to 8.8 in 2016 from 9.9 in 2015, reflecting the poor performance of many nations due to aspects that are based on actual market practice, such as financial performance and corporate social responsibility, the fourth edition of the Islamic Finance Development Report revealed.
The report, prepared by Thomson Reuters, the world›s leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) (www.ICD-IDB.org), the private sector development arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), was released at the World Islamic Banking conference (WIBC) 2016, held in Bahrain.
Malaysia, Bahrain and the UAE continue to dominate the IFDI report for the 4th consecutive year. However, Malaysia posted a slight decline in its overall IFDI performance in 2016, as a result of weaker financial performance. Outside of the top 15, noteworthy emerging countries that have moved up the IFDI rankings are South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, Japan and Russia, with each nation taking serious steps towards developing their Islamic finance industries.
Among the regions with high potential in Islamic finance is West Africa. Khaled Al Aboodi, CEO of ICD, said: “Currently, West Africa, and Africa in general, is at a stage where there is a need to broaden the source of funds required to support its large infrastructure deficit and plug its revenue shortfall caused by the global commodity slump, and Islamic finance can be the solution. The recent sovereign issues in Africa will not only serve as an impetus for other African governments to follow suit and diversify their financing instruments via sukuk, but they will help the Islamic finance industry to mature and pave the way for private sector growth and the development of capital markets in countries where they are still nascent.”
Unprecedented oil price storm hindered Islamic finance performance, but not asset growth. The impact of global events like the sharp drop in oil prices lowered the financial performance of countries that have an Islamic finance presence, like the GCC. Although the drop in oil prices did not impede the growth of global or GCC Islamic finance assets (except for Kuwait which reported a 3% decline in assets), it did lead to a decline in profitability measures such as ROA. It also resulted in negative equity performances for a variety of listed Islamic financial institutions, particularly in takaful and Shariah-compliant equities that also make up part of Islamic fund portfolios. Sukuk was the least vulnerable of the asset classes, however the sector witnessed lower issuance volumes in 2015.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia held the largest amount of Islamic finance assets worldwide ($447 billion), while Malaysia dropped in ranking to hold the 3rd largest asset base ($434 billion.) This was down to slow asset growth that was not sufficient to offset the devaluation of the ringgit in 2015. Iran remains the world’s 2nd largest Islamic finance jurisdiction ($414 billion).
Nadim Najjar, Managing Director at Thomson Reuters, Middle East and North Africa, said: “Despite lower financial performance by some in 2015, we maintain a positive outlook for the industry projecting those Islamic finance assets to reach $3.5 trillion by 2021. We have seen South Asian countries post the greatest amount of growth in Islamic finance assets after the introduction of Islamic windows for different financial institutions, which shows the increased acceptance of Islamic finance products in the region. Islamic banking remains strong in many countries and its growth is also supported by the continued development and introduction of it and other Islamic finance sectors in new countries.”
East and West gear up for a renewed Islamic finance presence through research and education. There were 622 Islamic finance education providers in 2015, while 2,224 research papers were produced worldwide between 2013 and 2015. Among the key enablers for the development of Islamic finance education are Islamic education institutions, which can be found in abundance in Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan.—SG