UKIFC Has Taken a Leading Role in Promoting the Ethical Finance Sector in Edinburgh: Says Omar Sheikh

Omar Sheikh, the Advisory Board Member of the UK Islamic Finance Council delivered below key note address at the Global Ethical Finance Forum 2017 which was held at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh. The event was organized by Middle East Global Advisors* in strategic partnership with UKIFC.

 "My Lord, Lord Provost, Cabinet Minister, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the UK Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC) Pleasure to welcome you back to Scotland for the Global Ethical Finance Forum - GEFF 2017.

The 2015 GEFF was an excellent event attracting participants from over 20 countries and following positive feedback we are delighted to partner with MEGA to bring GEFF back to Edinburgh. I would like to thank this year’s hosts RBS specifically Thom, Kirsty and the operational team for their efforts in the run up.

The UKIFC is a not-for-profit body established to promote the Islamic and ethical finance sectors. We see faith based finance as being one part of the broader ethical finance market. Over the past six years the UKIFC has taken a leading role in promoting the ethical finance sector in Edinburgh. This has involved both local co-ordination and international engagement. Along with facilitating this conference our other activities have included :

1) Organising the award winning Edinburgh Ethical Finance roundtable Series. Now in its 6th year it has become a leading platform in the UK for discussions on ethical finance attracting a broad range of senior executives.

2) Conceiving and developing the Ethical Finance Hub – the first of its kind in the UK.

3) Launching the world's first JV between Islamic finance and the Church that aims to create an ethical finance solution open to all in society regardless of race, religion or ethnic background and built on the shared values between the faith traditions.

Across these activities we have used the term ethical in a broad sense. Conscious the sector is littered with acronyms we have used ‘ethical finance’ in a soft and inclusive manner to fundamentally incorporate all stakeholders and activities that seek to consider additional non-financial positive factors along with financial.

The retail ethical finance market in the UK is reportedly worth circa £40bn.   It is demonstrating strong growth and increasing global prominence with $22 trillion of global AUM now under responsible investment strategies.

But also post financial crisis, now more than ever we are seeing that there is a need/societal call to make our economies and financial system work for the many and to have inclusive growth, address systemic stability and acknowledge more firmly the importance of the social and environmental impact of our economic activity.

Globally the City is a leading financial hub and within this Edinburgh is a key location for asset management and banking.  With Scotland's proud heritage in prudent finance through the mutual life companies, origins of the savings bank movement and the earliest professional bodies, I believe that Scotland presents a natural place to convene and host this international dialogue which is pertinent now more than ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen, to conclude, ethical finance is an innovative and high growth sector with definitions and experiences varying internationally.

I trust you will find this conference a fantastic opportunity over the next couple of days to exchange ideas, learn from one another and build networks towards furthering this sector and I wish you all a fruitful two days. Thank you."

*Middle East Global Advisors (MEGA) is the gateway connectivity and intelligence platform to opportunities in the rapidly developing economic region that stretches all the way from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East – The Middle East North Africa South Asia (MENASA) connection.  Read more at: