Australia / NZ

Islamic fund manager reaches $100 million milestone

The fund manager behind the first private Islamic superannuation fund in the world, Crescent Wealth, has passed $100 million in funds under management. The benchmark figure was passed after the Australia-based group reported a 245 per cent growth in funds under management for the 2015 financial year with the group tapping into demand for ethical Islamic investment products. Crescent Wealth launched the first private Islamic superannuation fund in the world in 2013 growing fund members close to ten-fold between the 2014 and 2015 financial years to reach 4200 members, with an expectation of further growth due to interest from overseas investors.

Australian Islamic Fund Manager Crescent Wealth hits $100million milestone

Australia-based Islamic fund manager Crescent Wealth is now managing over $100 Million in Islamic Super and Investments. This makes Crescent Wealth not only one of Australia’s fastest growing Super funds, but also one of the best performing with many of their funds market leaders in their respective sectors. This is a remarkable achievement for a company that launched the world’s first private Islamic pension fund a little over 2 years ago. Crescent Wealth’s International Equity Fund was ranked as the #1 Top Performing Ethical Fund returning 27.9% after fees (ranking by Financial Express for the 2015 financial year). Since its launch on 22 February 2013 to 30 June 15, the same fund has achieved a great total return of 60.65%.

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Cryptocurrencies and Islamic finance?

Bitcoin (https://bitcoin.org) started to make the idea of a cryptocurrency popular. What is missing so far is an intense discussion among Sharia scholars.

What makes Bitcoin unique is, that it is a) created by a computer program b) that it is created and verified by a decentralised process, the so-called 'Blockchain' technology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_chain_(database)), which is solving a practical problem for the first time: To enable trust and accounting without a central ledger, such as a central bank. c) that it faciliates payments quick, efficient and discreet - while the latter leads to accusation of misuse, e.g. for gaming, drugs, terror finance etc.

How it can be seen from an Islamic perspective is not widely discussed, despite it deserves the attention. What we find in search engines are some discussions and also an initiative, which calls itself a bank (https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=21732.0).

Aussie Philanthropists Struggling With Red Tape

The Index of Philanthropic Freedom 2015 by the Centre for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute ranked Australia behind New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Japan and Spain in terms of barriers and incentives for individuals and organisations to donate money and time to social causes. Australia was ranked 13th overall for philanthropic freedom out of 64 countries, with the Netherlands, the USA and Germany taking out the top three places. New Zealand was ranked eighth while the UK was one place behind Australia at 14. Australia’s philanthropic environment is decidedly disjointed. On the one hand, Australia maintains the region’s most favorable environment for the operation and registration of CSOs (Civil Society Organisations), on the other hand, Australia has a variety of policies that are not necessarily designed to deter cross-border flows but do exactly that.

Middle East investors looking to buy properties in Australia

Middle East investors are increasingly looking at Australia as a destination to expand their real estate portfolios, according to IP Global. A stable economy coupled with strong population growth continues to underpin the property markets in cities such as Brisbane and Melbourne, the property investment firm said in its latest quarterly global real estate outlook. While there are signs that property prices are overheating in traditional investor hot spots like Sydney, pockets of value still exist in suburbs of Brisbane and Melbourne. Paul Preston, Director, Head of EMEA at IP Global, which has offices in the UAE, said that a rising population and big infrastructure spending programs support the outlook for real estate returns in areas beyond the more well-known, traditional investment locations.

Muslim woman turns to financial institutions for Islam-friendly mortgages

Sara Jawadi, a Muslim woman who unsuccessfully lobbied New Zealand's big banks for interest-free mortgages, is turning her attention to other financial institutions. Jawadi said she had approached Kiwibank, ANZ, BNZ and Westpac but she was either met with no response or was told to send an email. The next step was to approach private investors and finance companies in the hope of a better response, she said. Jawadi and other Kiwi Muslims in similar situations could be in luck as New Zealand's first Islam-friendly KiwiSaver provider plans to offer interest-free mortgages to Muslims. Amanah Ethical launched the country's first Sharia-compliant KiwiSaver earlier this year.

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Short European fixed-income trade. A loss of a lifetime?

Bill Gross, well known fixed income fund manager twittered (https://twitter.com/januscapital/status/590519759797530624) and moved markets with his idea to sell German sovereign bonds short (selling without having them) to buy them back later cheaper. He called it "The Short of a lifetime"; the only issue would be the "timing"...

Interest rates will be once raising again but will short seller stay solvent long enough to benefit? The German economy is doing fine, but other EURO zone countries do not perform as well and need low interest rates for a prolonged period of time. Japan has so far not convincingly ended their easy money policy.

Australia's Waratah Resources to launch Islamic commodities venture

Sydney-based Waratah Resources Limited plans to launch an Islamic commodities trading business as it shifts focus from Asian markets to the Middle East. The move adds to a growing number of firms keen to tap into an Islamic finance market that is developing beyond its traditional homes in the Middle East and southeast Asia. Waratah will setup a company domiciled in the Malaysian offshore finance centre of Labuan under a 50/50 joint venture agreement with Malaysia's Amanie Holdings, an Islamic finance advisory firm. The firm's next goal is to secure funding arrangements with partners who have been introduced by its sharia partners over the past few months, to provide the required capital for its joint venture vehicle, said executive chairman Ben Kirkpatrick.

Countries with very high religious diversity - including China - outpace world in economic growth

The Weekly Number's analysis of a new Pew Research Center report - a study based on methodology developed by Brian J. Grim - finds that the 12 countries identified in the study as having very high religious diversity each outpaced the world's economic growth between 2008 and 2012.

Full Report: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/04/04/global-religious-diversity/

Current job offers

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Relaunch IslamicFinance.de Newsletter - Free Download

Dear Reader,

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of IslamicFinance.de please find at the hyperlink below the relaunch of the newsletter.

http://www.islamicfinance.de/files/20140529%20IslamicFinance%20dot%20de%...

Any new issues will be announced to our registered users of IslamicFinance.de and to the members of the related LinkedIn Group of IslamicFinance.de.

If you wish to register please go to http://www.islamicfinance.de/?q=newsletter/subscriptions or become member of the LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostRecent=&gid=147616&trk=my_groups-tile...

Enjoy reading! And if you do, please consider sharing the free newsletter with your friends & colleagues by forwarding or subscribing an internal email address to forward it your entire firm.

NB: I appreciate feedback to improve the content and better understand what readers are looking for. Please allow time for reply, which I may not be able to give to all enquiries after sending out the newsletter.

All the best,

Michael Saleh Gassner

Worldwide study shows religious investors can ally faith and finance

Religious investors, in economic terms the third largest group to invest on the world’s stock markets, can post high placement profits and remain faithful to their religious creed. This is the message of the third biennial world report on religious investors, the only report of its kind.

The report highlights the profile of religious investors who respect this balance and thus can have a major influence on company ethics:
- Their principles of faith can serve as a road map for investment choices;
- By nature, these investors have a long-term view which is key to the notion of responsible investment;
- They can call on the support of what is often a worldwide community;
- They have set up networks that offer the chance to work together on stakeholder actions and therefore increase their impact.

Even though a certain number of religious organisations invest responsibly and use their role as shareholder-activists to promote change this sort of profile is far from the majority.

11th IFSB Summit, 19-22 May 2014, Mauritius

The theme for this 2014 Summit is New Markets and Frontiers for Islamic Finance: Innovation and the Regulatory Perimeter.

Please refer to http://www.ifsb.org/preess_full.php?id=240&submit=more for the announcement of the 11th IFSB Summit.

For any queries regarding the Summit, please contact the secretariat:

- Participants' registration

Ms. Yazmin Aziz at yazmin@ifsb.org

Mrs. Ida Shafinaz Ab. Malek at ida.shafinaz@ifsb.org

- Sponsorship and Media

Ms. Rosmawatie Abdul Halim at rosmawatie@ifsb.org

Anti-Terrorism Legislation and Impact in Cross Border Giving

INVITATION TO A RESEARCH INQUIRY
Anti-Terrorism Legislation and Impact in Cross Border Giving

The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropy’s Academy of Philanthropy is leading a research inquiry in collaboration with Cass Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness. After London and Doha, the last of the three dialogues will take place in New York.

This concerns the barriers to giving for international development and relief that affect donors and recipients alike, in the light of continuing international agreements and practices enshrined in legislation. Our work is seeking to identify ways forward for international dialogues to best support and enhance accountable giving and its efficient flow between nations. The findings of the research will be reported to the WCMP’s biennial Global Donor’s Forum, to be held in Washington, DC from April 14-16, 2014.

Donors, nonprofit and development sector representatives, and financial institution executives are welcomed to participate in the dialogue and share their experiences and offer suggestions.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Observer Mission to the UN

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How to achieve a soft landing of a deleveraging, while growing economy?

For many years we see in the media experts believing in inflation and even hyper inflation. However, in the same time we face proponents warning against deflation. So far we all noticed.

Only a about a week ago I read an article by Myret Zaki clarifying that unfortunately inflation and deflation co-exists.

Myret Zaki's thesis is that we face inflation on financial markets, and deflation in the real economy (in French):

http://www.bilan.ch/myret-zaki/redaction-bilan/inflation-et-deflation-co...

In my view there is a general major shift in the price matrix and I still try to figure the magnitude and implications thereof. It is a bit irritating as at University we learned about neutrality of money:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrality_of_money

This means any extra supply will increase prices equally, 5 % more money, all prices going up 5 %. Pretty plausible at first hand. However, it seems it does not work in reality any more (or never did).

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Venture Capital the Islamic ideal?

Dear Readers,

Venture Capital has often been regarded as the ideal tool for Islamic finance, particpating in profits and losses of innnovative companies.

Now a major assessment has been done by Cambridge Associates in terms of performance, comparing it to the wider stock market. Result: No outperformance. Considering the lack of liqudity it seems to be much less attractive to professional investors than thought.

See: http://www.cambridgeassociates.com/pdf/Venture%20Capital%20Index.pdf

The lack of success also is induced by lack of transparency and fee models taking away the eventual outperformance. This is for the US market of course. Experiences in less advanced markets could be better or even much worse.

It still has other benefits, as diversifying risk, promoting overall growth and eventuall fostering social benefits.

In order to protect the investor, proper disclosures must be integrated to grow this industry in a healty manner. Further the focus on impact investing will ensure that value is created and risk better managed. What impact investing means could be read here:

See: http://www.thegiin.org/cgi-bin/iowa/home/index.html

MICROFINANCE EVENT: No-Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) New South Wales (NSW) Conference 2013, October 22-23, 2013, Sydney, Australia

The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) New South Wales (NSW) Conference 2013 will take place in Sydney, Australia on October 22-23, 2013. The event will highlight NILS and microfinance topics including energy efficiency programs, impact investing and social innovation, strategies to facilitate best practices in microfinance, and integration, collaboration and consolidation of NILS in microfinance institutions and community organizations in eight territories of Australia. NILS is a community-based program that provides interest-free loans for individuals or families living on low incomes to purchase essential goods and services in Australia.The cost to attend the two-day event is AUS 360 (USD 335), additional discounts are available. For more information visit the event website http://www.nilsnsw.org.au/latest-news/events.

Islamic Finance Industry Development Challenge

The shift in global banking is not a trend, and the challenge for all of us is to bridge the gap in financial practice and seize the opportunities that lie ahead, bringing ethics back into finance.

Thomson Reuters and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) are partnering to launch the world’s first Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge and Awards (EFICA). In the dawn of a new economic world, these awards are designed to inspire and recognise a fresh way of thinking by promoting some of the most dynamic, innovative ideas and solutions around integrity and growth.

Hult Prize Competition for Student teams worldwide to solve food crisis

Over the past three years, the Hult Prize has taken on some of the planet's toughest challenges. These have included Education, Energy, Housing, and Water. For the 2013 Prize, President Clinton has personally selected the challenge: the Global Food Crisis.

A detailed case study, narrated by President Bill Clinton, will be released to all selected participants in early January to set the framework for this year's challenge. Competitors will then be asked to develop social enterprises that answer the President's Challenge.

The global food crisis can be approached through multiple lenses, such as: distribution, manufacturing, production, technology and many others. Each, represents an opportunity for innovation. Nearly 1 Billion people in the World are Hungry, that is over 1 out of every 4 children. Ironically, our global economy produces enough food each year to feed everyone, however more than one-third of the food generated for human consumption continues to be lost or wasted.

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