Islamic banks around the globe view risk management, equity financing and deepening their client base as the most pressing issues facing the sector in coming years, a survey released on Friday showed.
The survey drew input from the heads of 83 Islamic finance institutions, the first comprehensive attempt to measure business sentiment in a growing-yet-diverse industry which holds around $2 trillion in assets globally.
The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), a non-profit organisation headquartered in Manama, conducted the survey between April and June. Two-thirds of the respondents were full-fledged Islamic banks.
Commercial financing remains the top revenue driver, but financing to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) ranked second-highest, the survey showed.
SMEs are seen as leading revenue for Islamic banks in Asia, with trade finance ranking highest in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the Gulf region SMEs are also in focus, partly due to concerns about over concentration of business from large firms.
The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), a Bahrain-based non-profit organisation, plans to expand beyond the Gulf, so that it can shape rules and practices in new markets as they grow. Addressing a major weakness in Islamic finance, the lack of well-trained professionals, CIBAFI plans to expand its training and certification programmes. The body also plans to hold forums in new markets for Islamic finance, including events in Morocco and Libya later this year. One of CIBAFI's key messages is that Islamic windows need to operate under clear rules to improve the perceptions of consumers. Therefore, Omar Hafiz, secretary-general of the body, said that for its long-term health, the industry should focus as much on improving the regulatory environment as increasing its size.