Confidence, but some uncertainty remains: Islamic finance trends

In 2018 the expansion of Islamic finance into non-Muslim jurisdictions is set to continue. Conventional investors have started to appreciate the potential of Islamic finance at times of a persistent low-to-zero-interest rate environment. According to data collected by financial intelligence firm Dealogic, issuance of Islamic debt by non-Muslim countries climbed to a three-year high in 2017. Islamic finance is perceived by them as being more stable compared to the conventional banking system. However, the industry is likely to face a continued backlash in the GCC caused by the current economic woes in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia. According to rating agency Standard & Poor’s, Islamic finance assets should be back in growth mode in 2018 in the GCC, but at a slow pace of just around 5%. One impulse for growth could be the creation of Shariah-compliant pension schemes modelled after Malaysia, as well as other obligatory social insurances in GCC countries. A new trend is likely to transform into a new Islamic finance asset class in 2018: green and sustainable sukuk, as part of impact investing.