Now in its 15th year, the annual IFN Service Providers Poll continues to be the benchmark of excellence honoring the Islamic finance industry’s best in supporting operations, facilitating transactions, setting standards and rating results.
Voted by the industry and readers of IFN, winners of the IFN Service Providers Poll 2020 displayed resilience during a tumultuous year, noteworthy agility and perseverance as well as business savviness while remaining committed to serving the global Islamic finance industry through a dedication to upholding Shariah principles.
Most Outstanding Standard-Setting Body
Winning by the largest margin across all categories with 51% of the votes for this category, AAOIFI anchors its undisputable position as the Islamic finance industry’s Most Outstanding Standard-Setting Body with its 10th consecutive win this year. For almost three decades, AAOIFI has been serving the global Islamic finance industry from its home market Bahrain, supporting over 200 institutional members across over 45 countries with over 100 standards.
The global standard-setting body continues to advocate for Shariah harmonization with meaningful initiatives in 2020 including introducing a new Waqf governance standard, revising its conceptual framework for financial reporting for issuance and finalizing the financial accounting standard to facilitate institutions transitioning from conventional accounting frameworks to Islamic. Demonstrating its commitment to the Islamic finance industry beyond standardization, AAOIFI also signed a three-year MoU with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to develop Islamic finance tools to benefit refugees and internally displaced persons.
Best Islamic Consultancy Firm
In one of the tightest competitions for votes, ISRA Consulting maintains its crown as the Best Islamic Consultancy Firm, after taking the title for the first time last year. The consulting arm of the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) leverages on the strength of Malaysia as a global leader in Islamic finance to provide advisory and consultancy, training, industrial market research and translation services.
Over the last decade, it has attracted local and international Shariah scholars into its fold and formed strategic alliances with the likes of the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia to better service the market. Among its clients include Malaysia’s Credit Guarantee Corporation, Affin Hwang Investment Bank and the National Mortgage Company of Malaysia.
Best Islamic Index Provider
S&P Dow Jones Indices continues its dominance, winning for a 9th straight year and attracting 29% of the votes. This winning streak expands to 14 years when taking into consideration the former Dow Jones Indices wins from 2007 to 2011.
Its dominance in this field is evident by the outperformance of its pioneering indices. In the most tumultuous times triggered by a global coronavirus pandemic which saw global equities fall by 22.3% in the first quarter of 2020 according to the S&P Global BMI, the S&P Global BMI Shariah outperformed the conventional benchmark by over 500bps, its most significant quarterly outperformance since its inception.
This outperformance is also witnessed across its other Islamic indices: the S&P 500 Shariah outshone its conventional peer by 2.7% while the DJIM Europe and DJIM Emerging Markets respectively outperformed their conventional benchmarks by more than 8%.
Best Interbroker for Islamic Transactions
True to its industry-leading repertoire, backed by over two decades of success and heavy investments into technology, DDCAP Group is acknowledged as the Best Interbroker for Islamic Transactions for the fourth year running, attracting almost one-third of the votes. The UK-based Islamic intermediary firm expanded its geographical presence to Malaysia in 2019 for further expansion and even secured Cyber Essential Plus accreditation for its ETHOS AFP platform.
Best Rating Agency in Islamic Finance
With a quarter of the votes, it is a hattrick for S&P Global Ratings, winning Best Rating Agency in Islamic Finance for the third year. But the victory did not come without stiff competition from Moody’s Investors Service which attracted 21% of the votes. Under the leadership of Global head of Islamic finance Dr Mohamed Damak, S&P Global Ratings continues to produce numerous Islamic finance research and commentaries as well as provide ratings to Islamic financial institutions and instruments across the world.
Best Islamic Research Firm
In one of the biggest reshufflings in the IFN Service Providers Poll rankings this year, Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) catapulted itself to first spot, from third last year, in the race for Best Islamic Research Firm.
The training arm of the IsDB Group demonstrated great thought leadership this past year despite COVID-19-related challenges, particularly shifting its focus to digital-enabled initiatives: IRTI partnered with Samsung-backed blockchain firm Blocko to launch the Smart Credit Management Platform and rolled out the Smart Economy Grants Program which focuses on the application of emerging technologies.
Best Shariah Advisory Firm
Proving that when it comes to Shariah advisory, its expertise, repertoire and capabilities are unparalleled, Dar Al Sharia is taking home the title of Best Shariah Advisory Firm for the sixth consecutive year.
The award-winning firm has been hailed as a pioneer since its inception in 2007, advising on countless transactions and whose Shariah pronouncements have provided much-needed clarity to move the Islamic finance industry forward.
Best Islamic Technology Provider
If there is any immovable victor in this poll, it is Path Solutions. The Islamic finance tech giant is crowned the Best Islamic Technology Provider for the 13th year running, a testament to the firm’s unquestionable dominance in the space.
Its victory is backed by an impressive year comprising numerous high-profile new contracts particularly in the African region: Somalia’s Amana Bank and MyBank; Sudan’s Al Baraka Bank, Africa and Gulf Bank as well as Al Khaleej Bank; and Morocco’s Bank Assafa.
The year 2020 is also momentous for Path Solutions as it marked the start of its intelligent digital initiative roadmap with the unveiling of two new platforms: Path Digital and Path Intelligence, bolstering its open banking and core banking offerings.
It is also worth noting that the technology category witnessed a stunning shakeup in second and third rankings this year. 2019’s first runner-up International Turnkey Systems and second runner-up Oracle FSS were both pushed out of the top rankings this year, supplanted by Silverlake Axis which came in second with HeiTech Padu third.
Best Stock Exchange for Islamic Listings
The category of Best Stock Exchange for Islamic Listings may have been ferociously fought in the last two years; however, the reigning champion Bursa Malaysia succeeded in building a comfortable lead over its rivals with 31% of the votes.
While last year’s top contenders — London Stock Exchange and Saudi’s Tadawul — were edged out of the top league in 2020, Bursa Malaysia remains steadfast in anchoring its position despite competition from new rivals such as Dubai Financial Market and Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange which were second and third respectively.
The Malaysian bourse, which boasts the world’s first fully integrated Islamic securities exchange platform, has been investing heavily in upgrading its technology infrastructure to better service its clients, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is developing a blockchain proof-of-concept to facilitate the growth of the bond and Sukuk marketplace at the Labuan Financial Exchange and will be rolling out a new data platform. Amid these technological developments, Bursa Malaysia also continues to build the Islamic capital market with new regulations: it released a new IPO framework, amended listing requirements, formed new partnerships and is working to liberalize its stockbroking policy. As at the end of May 2020, 76.33%, or 687 of the 900 listed securities on Bursa Malaysia, are certified as Shariah compliant.
IFN would like to extend its heartiest congratulations to all winners of the IFN Service Providers Poll, and a big thank you to all who voted. We are honored to be a part in recognizing the movers and shakers of the global Islamic finance industry.
|Winners of the IFN Service Providers Poll 2020|
|Award||Winner||First runner-up||Second runner-up|
|Most Outstanding Standard-Setting Body||AAOIFI||IFSB||IIFM|
|Best Islamic Consultancy Firm||ISRA Consulting||Dar Al Sharia||Amanie Advisors|
|Best Islamic Index Provider||S&P Dow Jones Indices||IdealRatings||FTSE Russell|
|Best Interbroker for Islamic Transactions||DDCAP Group||Eiger Trading Advisors||Bursa Suq Al-Sila’|
|Best Rating Agency in Islamic Finance||S&P Global Ratings||Moody’s Investors Service||RAM Ratings|
|Best Islamic Research Firm||IRTI||ISRA||IIiBF|
|Best Shariah Advisory Firm||Dar Al Sharia||Amanie Advisors||Syariah Review Bureau|
|Best Islamic Technology Provider||Path Solutions||Silverlake Axis||HeiTech Padu|
|Best Stock Exchange for Islamic Listings||Bursa Malaysia||Dubai Financial Market||Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange|