Expert: It’s tough for Islamic banks too
By Chong Pooi Koon
“This year the syariah banks are going to be exposed to the crisis the entire year. Those who survive this year will come out as winners, but others, especially the smaller banks, could merge, be taken over, or simply disappear,” BMB Islamic UK Ltd chief executive officer Dr Humayon Dar said in a media interview in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Islamic finance is distinctively different from conventional banking in principles. But it does not operate in isolation from the mainstream financial market and hence is not spared from the credit crunch, Humayon said.
Consolidation is a positive development for the industry since it will help pool the Islamic assets under fewer but stronger institutions, he said.
The Western banks are now more convinced about Islamic banking potential after they saw the sector’s resilience in the face of the subprime crisis.
On the other hand, some big financial institutions from the UK and the US, which entered the market four to five years ago in chase of the huge oil wealth, were disappointed by Islamic finance, he said, because they failed to secure business from syariah investors.
“It is very difficult for non-Islamic institutions to sell syariah banking products. The syariah investors are not going to trust someone who has conventional products in his left hand, Islamic products in his right hand and who sits in the bar drinking,” Humayon observed.
London-based BMB Islamic provides syariah structuring and advisory services to mainly financial institutions. It is part of the Cayman Islands-registered asset management firm BMB Group Ltd, whose parent is in Brunei.
BMB Islamic was recently named the Best Syariah Advisory Firm in Islamic Finance News Poll conducted by Kuala Lumpur-based Redmoney Group, and Humayon was in Kuala Lumpur to attend the award ceremony.