Islamic Fintech Wahed Inc has hired a finance industry veteran to run its UK-based operations.
The company appointed Umer Suleman, an ex-HSBC executive, as General Manager of Wahed UK operations. His role will include overseeing Wahed Invest’s nationwide growth strategy and strengthening the firm’s position as a leading provider of ethically focused Islamic financial services to the Muslims in the country.
Suleman’s track record includes over 15 years of regulatory, risk, and strategy consultancy roles, as well as advisory positions across a variety of businesses and sectors including positions at UKIFC, Daiwa Capital Management, and Ernst & Young (EY).
He also spent seven years at HSBC as Head of KYC Risk globally within their Global Banking and Markets business, Head of Business and Conduct Risk for MENA within Retail Banking, and headed up the CCO function for Digital (GLCM) within the UK with a global remit.
Up until recently, Wahed has been making Halal investing accessible for American Muslims. However, now, they plan to expand their outreach to Muslim customers in the UK as well.
Wahed and the Growing Role of Islamic Fintech
The startup fintech was founded in New York in 2017. Since its inception, it has grown from strength to strength. In July 2019, it launched the first exchange-traded fund in the US that was Sharia-compliant.
Islamic finance typically refers to the way businesses and individuals raise capital in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law. It also refers to the types of investments that are permissible under Islam.
Wahed currently operates in 130 countries and has offices in Washington D.C, New York, London, and Dubai. It has also developed an easily accessible digital platform that balances ethical finance with modern investments, attracting over 200,000 active clients from around the world with features such as free portfolio recommendations and no hidden fees.
What Does Wahed Want To Do In The UK Marketplace?
According to reports, the UK is highly receptive to services in the Islamic finance sector. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing markets globally. It has a three million-strong Muslim population. It is one of the largest Muslim community outside the Muslim-majority countries. It is receptive to the idea of Islamic financial services.
It is hoped Suleman’s leadership of Wahed will address the underbanked needs of the UK Muslim community while also serving the increasing number of other retail investors currently seeking ethical alternatives to wealth creation.
Speaking about the new role, Wahed CEO, Junaid Wahedna, explained “Mr. Suleman’s appointment reaffirms our commitment to providing innovative and outstanding ethically driven financial services to a market that, historically, has been underserved.
“We’re delighted to welcome Umer to the team and firmly believe that with him at the helm, our operations in the UK will continue to go from strength to strength and provide customers seeking ethical investments with accessible, trustworthy, and innovative solutions.”
The appointment follows Wahid’s recent investment round and its acquisition of the UK-based fintech Niyah.
These events will support the company in its plans to build an Islamic marketplace that meets the growing demand for socially conscious investors – and not just those of Islamic faith.
The Islamic fintech firm also plans to utilize the UK’s position as a leading hub for Islamic finance as a springboard into other European cities. It believes it has a central role to play in providing Shariah-compliant services to the Muslims globally that address inclusion and inequality for all.
The Islamic finance industry is currently valued at around US$2.4trn and is expected to grow steadily by 10-12% over 2021 and 2022, has experienced rapid growth in recent years.
Three Reasons Why Islamic Finance Is Still a Growing Sector
- Muslim population is growing – and has been traditionally underserved by incumbent banks. In fact, it is growing twice as fast as the world’s non-Muslim population. Islamic fintech companies like Wahed can effectively address the varying needs of the Muslim population by offering Shariah-compliant financial products
- Financial Inclusion: As a large number of Muslims are hesitant to use financial services offered by conventional banks, companies like Wahed will help them start using their Shariah-compliant financial services without fearing about interest rates. – transactions, payments, savings, credit, and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
- It supports Sharia-compliant products. Transactions that work with industries forbidden in Islam (gambling, usury, and speculation) are forbidden. Islamic banking only works with businesses that adhere to their ethical and moral standards.