Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I approached Dow Jones Indexes with the idea of an Islamic index in 1998, and pitched the business model (players, products, AUMs, growth, etc) of merging “faith and finance.” We went from one Islamic index to 60 within eight years, and expanded to include an Islamic Sustainability index, and (on Monday 6th March) announced a co-branded Islamic Bond Index – the Dow Jones Citi Global Sukuk Index.
What does your role involve?
I wear about 8–10 hats, including working with our six-member Shariah Board (Sheiks Usmani, Abu Ghuddah, Elgari, Yaquby, Bakar, Delorenzo), managing (over 25) licencees, presenting at global conferences, media interviews, new index development and marketing.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Two number one achievements: the launch of the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index on the 9th February 1999 and the announcement of the Dow Jones–Citi Global Sukuk Index on the 6th March 2006.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
Because we have our own Shariah Supervisory Board, rather than outsourcing the function like another index provider, I believe we are very good at the following areas: (1) response time is fast to existing clients on the compliance of a company and new index development; (2) handling inquiries from potential clients; (3) going on roadshows with licencees to assist them where possible; (4) explaining to the media Islamic finance and where Islamic indexes fit into the development of the Islamic capital markets and ensuing products.
What are the strengths of your business?
We have a good team that understands Islamic indexes, and understands our clients’ needs (as we have been doing it for eight years plus).
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
Teamwork, not being complacent, pounding the pavement and travelling to all parts of the world to explain what we do and how we see the market growing.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
As with all companies, obstacles are resources (capital and human resources), how the stock markets are doing, political events, etc.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry, maybe in the next five years?
I see the development of the Islamic capital market: equities and Sukuk (displacing bank loans, refinancing loans/bonds, etc). I see more compliant equity investment opportunities in Muslim countries and we, at Dow Jones Indexes, will lead the effort. We want to assist such countries address Islamic capital flight. I would like to see more family-owned companies and state-owned enterprises listed on stock exchanges. I would like to see a Federal Chartered Islamic Bank in the US, like the Financial Services Authority-approved Islamic Bank of Britain and European Islamic Investment Bank in the UK. I would like to see a global Shariah consulting firm that is well capitalized, undertakes innovative research, trains scholars, etc.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance?
I cannot name one! More Shariah scholars and better human resources training, as these are the two bottlenecks in the growth of Islamic finance. I would like to see the Islamic finance industry reach out to the western media, including advertising. I would like to see more women in Islamic finance at managerial levels. I would also like to see more emphasis on venture capital financing.
Dow Jones Indexes develops, maintains and licenses market indexes for investment products. Among its more than 3,000 indexes are the world’s best known stock indicator, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the leading pan-European indexes, the Dow Jones STOXX Indexes. Dow Jones Indexes is an independent, full-service index provider, supplying accurate, reliable and transparent index data.
Dow Jones indexes underlie a variety of financial products in today’s marketplace, including exchange-traded funds, futures and options contracts, mutual funds, variable annuity and equity indexed annuities, and structured products such as OTC options, swaps, warrants, equity-linked notes and public/private debt.
The Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes were created for people who wish to invest according to Islamic investment guidelines. The indexes track Shariah compliant stocks from around the world, providing Islamic investors with comprehensive tools based on a truly global investing perspective.