A closer look at Shariah ETFs

Shariah-compliant exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which provide low-cost exposure to conventional equity markets while strictly adhering to Shariah investment principles, are benchmarked to indices that apply a series of trade activity and financial screens to weed out non-compliant companies. The screening process is typically overseen by leading Islamic scholars and results in a portfolio of securities in adherence with Shariah law. The major difference compared to conventional indices is the application of financial/leverage screens. By excluding companies with high levels of debt, the resultant portfolio has lower financial risk and superior credit fundamentals.