DDCAP was recently invited to participate in a Forum at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dubai, jointly hosted by Deloitte and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), aimed at engaging industry practitioners, scholars and thought leaders on the subject of the Future of Finance.
Although the theme of the conference was the Future of Finance, the topics covered principally related to the role of Islamic Finance in the wider context of the global financial industry, in particular, adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. These SDGs were enumerated in 2015 by the United Nations and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. The SDG agenda was embraced by the IsDB at the Governors’ Roundtable during their 44th Annual Meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, in 2019.
The Forum addressed some of the key influences in policy and practice that will that will likely shape the finance industry in the future and how institutions will need to adapt in the next decade. Additionally, the deliberations looked at the drivers which will have an impact on business models, market institutions and the financial landscape in general.
The Forum brought together leading industry professionals, among them Dr Abdullah Balatik , Secretary General of CIBAFI, Tallat Hussain, Environmental Counsel, White & Case, Dr Salma Abbasi, FRGS, Chairperson and CEO, eWorldwide, Group, Dr Omar Fisher, Strategic Advisor to the CEO, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD and a member of the IsDB group), Mohammed Paracha, Head of Islamic Finance, Middle East and Africa, Norton Rose Fulbright (Middle East) LLP and Abdulkader Thomas, President & CEO, SHAPE Knowledge Services.
The sessions were led and moderated by Dr Hatim El Tahir, Director, Deloitte ME, with the keynote given by Abdullah Al Awar, CEO of the Dubai Islamic Economy Centre (DIEDC). Topics covered included technology innovation (principally Fintech and Block chain), the future of money, risk allocation, governance and the increasing appetite of investors for sustainable finance, and the role of multilateral institutions (particularly development institutions) and governments in in shaping policy.
There was general consensus among the participants that technological developments will have a profound impact on global finance. Disruptive technologies in financial services have, in effect, fast tracked emerging markets (particularly in communication technology, payment systems and digital lending) and brought them more in line with developed economies, with a greater focus on the SDGs overall together with, by implication, green finance. Furthermore, the Forum agreed that there is likely to be greater collaboration between the private sector and multilateral institutions given the challenges to meet the SDGs in a commercially viable manner. Concomitant with this, will be the contribution of Islamic finance, which all agreed has a natural affinity to the SDGs and green finance. Moreover, most OIC member countries are located in Africa and Asia and have shown some of the fastest population growth rates in recent years, a trend that is likely to continue into the next decade. These regions will become the profit pools of the future for financial institutions. Hence the role of Islamic finance will have increasing relevance in the next decade and, already, many financial institutions (in these markets) have subscribed to the SDGs and incorporated them into their bank policies, a trend that is likely to continue, be it in technology investment, financing practices or the architecture of international finance in general.
In summary, the Forum provided an excellent opportunity to discuss critical aspects of the future of finance with a select group of industry professionals and executives from the IsDB group.