The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) launched its first qualification in Islamic Finance in December 2007. In order to meet the demands of the industry, which is worth up to £250 billion and growing at a rate of 20 percent a year, the qualification has been developed by CIMA and the International Institute of Islamic Finance with input from its chief executive officer Dr Mod Daud Bakar, a renowned sharia scholar.
Created in conjunction with an advisory board of academics, practitioners and scholars of sharia law, it will help employers all over the world to equip their staff with the necessary knowledge of Islamic finance, said Robert Jelly, director of education at CIMA. « CIMA has identified that there is considerable demand from the global business community to develop the knowledge and skills required to service this increasingly important market, » he commented. The CIMA Certificate in Islamic Finance is a self study, distance learning qualification that allows students to progress through at their own pace.
Islamic Finance is based on the understanding that making money from money is not permitted, which means interest is not permitted and any profits are divided between the bank and customer on pre-agreed terms.
The Certificate in Islamic Finance offers ‘comprehensive skills’ in areas including Sharia compliance and ‘the complexities of the contracts that underpin this compliance’. CIMA’s John Willsdon, who runs the course, said: ‘Islamic finance has caught the imagination of a great many people across the world. There is no doubt that the oil wealth amassed in the Middle East and South East Asia has given a tremendous impetus to this relatively new niche in the market.’ Since the launch in December last year, more than 50 students from 13 countries have studied for the certificate. He added: ‘Rather than fearing the increasing presence of Islamic finance, perhaps the West could learn something from this new kid on the block.’
Perhaps surprisingly, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has not yet jumped on the bandwagon to the same extent. However, according to Vernon Soare, executive director professional standards at the institute: ‘The ICAEW is now training in a number of Muslim countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan the Gulf. Sharia finance is an important part of doing business in those markets and is an area that we’re starting to explore.’
One of the aspects of Islamic finance western experts find it hardest to get to grips with is the fact that, to ensure compliance, banks etc. must hire Sharia ‘scholars’ to review and approve each product and practice as ‘halal’ – the Muslim equivalent of kosher in Judaism. Mohammad Khan, a PricewaterhouseCoopers director involved with Islamic finance, said: ‘Scholars don’t make the design decision. Rather they opine on whether the products are Islamic or not. They are people educated in Islamic jurisprudence and modern finance. They examine the product in detail and may say: this section is Islamic, but this part is not.’ He added: ‘In our experience they are practical.’
Syndication : RIBH