Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank, talks about Islamic finance in Britain and its appeal to non-Muslims. He says, Islamic finance appeals to anyone who agrees with the underlying principles: equitable distribution for everyone, prudent spending and the well-being of the community as a whole. It also provides an ethical alternative to traditional banking. Al Rayan Bank is structured to ensure that it operates ethically on a day-to-day basis. The bank's home-purchase plans (HPP) are structured differently to conventional mortgages. HPPs are based on the Islamic finance principles of ijara and diminishing musharaka. Currently the bank estimates that more than a quarter of customers are non-Muslim and the customer base is expected to grow in the coming years.
In Great Britain there are currently six Islamic banks, while another 20 lenders offer Islamic financial products and services. Al Rayan is Britain’s largest Sharia-compliant bank with 70,000 customers and 13 offices and branches. The bank underwent a major overhaul in 2014 when it was acquired by its Qatari parent, Masraf Al Rayan. Since that point, the brand was made more accessible, the imagery is no longer just Arabic, the bank uses British imagery as it is targeting all Brits. CEO Sultan Choudhury says about 25% of the bank’s customers are non-Muslim. Mr Choudhury also has his eyes fixed on the potential of the wider international market. In particular, he highlights the GCC national and expat market and HPPs (mortgages with an interest-free and Sharia-compliant structure). He says, Al Rayan's ambition is to be the number one bank for HPPs for GCC nationals and expats.
deVere Mortgages and Al Rayan Bank have announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership to offer Sharia-compliant mortgage alternatives. The alliance follows deVere Mortgages’ reporting of an average 55% increase in mortgage enquiries since the UK’s EU referendum, with the majority of these applications from people living in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman. Mike Coady, Managing Director of deVere Mortgages said the tie-up with Al Rayan Bank would add real value to their core market, which is Muslim and non-Muslim buyers based overseas who are looking to purchase property in Britain. Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank added that deVere Mortgages would help to reach an even wider group of people who are looking for ethical, Sharia compliant home and property finance.
Shareholders of the Birmingham-based Islamic Bank of Britain have given their approval to change its name to Al Rayan Bank. As a result of the rebranding, the bank has introduced a new Al Rayan Bank logo and brand identity, which are being implemented across its website, literature and branches. Al Rayan Bank’s activities will continue to be monitored by an independent Sharia supervisory committee and a dedicated compliance officer. It will continue to operate as a UK regulated bank and customers’ deposits will remain protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The synergy between the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) and its parent company Masraf Al Rayan will soon be reflected in the British bank’s name. Customers were informed last week that the new name for IBB to be adopted towards the end of the year will be Al Rayan Bank. Sultan Choudhury, chief executive officer of IBB, emphasised in the letter he sent out last week informing customers about the name change that the bank remains British regulated with a British board. The bank has invested heavily in its internet banking capability which has opened up its services to a much broader customer base. Its latest data also shows a big surge in non-Muslim customers.
Islamic Bank of Britain plc (IBB) has appointed Sultan Choudhury as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director. He previously held the position of interim Managing Director of IBB. IBB is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year and Mr Choudhury is the Bank’s longest-serving employee. He joined IBB when it was formed in 2004 and has since set up the Bank’s Head Office operations and Branch Network. Mr Choudhury has also led the development and implementation of IBB’s full product range and service delivery channels. As CEO, Mr Choudhury is working with IBB’s new parent company on plans to expand property finance to businesses, including development finance.
UK-based retail lender Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) plans to broaden its product range to win business both locally and across Europe, aided by the backing of its new Qatari shareholder Masraf Al-Rayan. IBB is developing its commercial property business to widen fee-based income as it aims to post a profit for the first time, newly-appointed CEO Sultan Choudhury said. Masraf Al-Rayan in February injected 75.8 million pounds ($129 million) into IBB to support its expansion plans. The bank's property finance business has doubled in size in the last year, which could allow IBB to expand later into Europe, said Choudhury, adding its retail operations would remain focused in the UK. IBB also aims to buy some of the 200 million pounds of sukuk that the British government will issue this week.
Sultan Choudhury, managing director of Islamic Bank of Britain, discussed findings from a poll of more than 300 investors by IBB, which showed one-third of respondents were non-Muslim. Some 66 per cent of those surveyed believed sharia finance was appropriate in a modern western society. A similar number (60 per cent) said sharia finance was relevant to all faiths, while more than half (58 per cent) said they considered Islamic finance to be an ethical system. IBB also reported 81 per cent of its customers said they were likely to use sharia-compliant finance again. This first piece of research will shape how the retail market for Islamic finance evolves, he added.
In order to equivalate the growing demand from UK Muslims for a suitable retirement vehicle, Pointon York has launched a range of Shari’ah-compliant Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs).
Sultan Choudhury, Commercial Director, stated that people are attentive to the risks of not putting enough aside in pensions for their retirement.
The four Shari’ah-compliant SIPP products that Pointon York will offer are:
- e-SIPP. A low cost SIPP which can be easily managed online
- Single Investment SIPP. A straightforward SIPP for clients wishing to invest in a single asset
- Individual SIPP. A fully flexible SIPP allowing an extensive range of investments
- Corporate SIPP. Suitable for employers, it has three tiers providing flexibility. It is made up of the e-SIPP, the Single Investment SIPP and the Individual SIPP.
A £20m capital injection into Islamic Bank of Britain will help develop more home loans in line with Sharia law, an expert from Defaqto has said. David Black, banking expert from Defaqto, said: “The £20m capital investment will enable the IBB to grow its Islamic mortgages. With some other banks recently reducing their involvement in Sharia loans in the UK, the IBB’s capital injection will provide fresh impetus for what will be a growth area.” Its products are structured in a different way to those provided by conventional banks. Instead of a traditional mortgage, customers pay monthly rent and purchase instalments over the agreed period to the bank on the basis of which the bank gradually sells its share of the property to the customer. The recent cash injection has meant IBB has launched two new home loans. “With a fresh injection of capital we are well placed to grow the business through our Home Purchase Plan products. The products will offer peace of mind for customers, both financially and spiritually, which is especially important in the holy month of Ramadan” , said Sultan Choudhury.