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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Regional banks push for share of Islamic product marketplace

Foreign and local banks are intensifying their struggle for the for the region's high net worth clients by expanding their Islamic Wealth Management services.

In wealth management there is no such thing as an "invisible hand", which economist Adam Smith described as the growth-driving result of a free market economy in his "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations", published in 1776. In fact, private bankers must work hard to lure High net worth individuals (HNWI) and Ultra-HNWI (clients with over $1m and over $30m at their disposal).

Take Swiss private banks Sarasin and Clariden Leu. Although both financial institutions have been in the DIFC since 2005 and 2007 respectively, they opened representative offices in Abu Dhabi in late 2010. Their moves were obviously not a luxury, but a necessity. According to one private banker: "Emirati investors in Abu Dhabi do not spend much time talking to you if you do not run an office in the UAEcapital."

Different stages of development

Islamic banking is likewise a necessity for any bank which aims to position itself strategically not only in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh but also in North Africa. Banks in post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia have taken steps to rival their peers in the Gulf region. But while the former states are more keen on developing Islamic retail banking in order to help SMEs to get on their feet, the GCC's Islamic finance industry is miles ahead. Wealth management in line with Shari'ah is considered the "missing link" between Islamic Corporate Banking and Islamic Retail Banking. 

Islamic Wealth management is mushrooming in the UAE. Barclays Bank Middle East has recently obtained a licence to operate an Islamic window within their branch in the DIFC. RBS Coutts, the private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland announced last week that it has applied for a banking license to operate the DIFC and is aiming to hire 40 relationship managers by 2015.

"Basle" does not stand solely for regulation

According to Syrian-born Fares Mourad, Managing Director and Head of Islamic Finance at Swiss private bank Sarasin, which operates in the Gulf region in a joint venture with Alpen Capital: "Sarasin is currently the only private bank in Europe that offers customized solutions for cases which had been almost set under a taboo in the Islamic world, such as complex heritage cases or international real estate management and its related tax management." 

Gary Dugan, the Chief Investment Officer Private Banking at Emirates NBD, says that for Arab HNWI "there is no reason any more to fly out money to Switzerland, since Dubai has proven during the Arab Spring that it is a safe harbour within the Middle East". Dugan adds: "Our booking centres in Dubai, London and Singapore prove that we are well established in the world centres of Islamic Finance." 

But for conventional banks the scope has shrunk and expanded at the same time. While Qatar does not allow conventional banks to offer Islamic banking any more, Oman's Sultan Qaboos has allowed Islamic Finance in a decree earlier this year. Sarasin-Alpen acted fast to obtain a licence to offer Shari'ah-finance. But there is competition: HSBC Amanah, the UAE's local Falcon Private Bank in Abu Dhabi and Geneva-based Pictet also offer customised Shari'ah-compliant solutions. The pieces in the Islamic Wealth Management jigsaw are yet to be set. 

(AmeInfo.Com, 21 Feb2012)

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Words of wisdom: Focus

"Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives." — Tony Robbins

"My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things." — Bill Gates

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” — Bruce Lee

"You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." — Mark Twain

"Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy." — Denis Waitley

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light." — Aristotle Onassis

"The three pillars on which I believe any business success is based are: Persistence, Enthusiasm and Focus." — Max Markson

"The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear." —
Brian Tracy

"To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail." — Giorgio Armani

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” ---- Anthony Robbins
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Words of wisdom: Positive

Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can't be done.

Like success, failure is many things to many people. With positive mental attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.

Always focus on the positive, you will attract more of it in your life!

You or someone else have done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.

If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.

Every bad situation will have something positive, even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day.

Surround yourself with positive people, places, and things, if you want positive outcomes in life. Think positive. Live positive.

Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.

There's power in positive thinking! If you think positive about things, then good things will happen. If you're constantly in fear of what could, or may happen, it usually does.

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

If you train your mind to search for the positive things about other people, you will be surprised at how many good things you can observe in them and learn from them.

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Words of wisdom: Goal

Goals in writting are dreams with deadlines. 

Goals that are not written down are just wishes.

People with goals succeed because they know where they're going.

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

An archer cannot hit the bullseye if he doesn't know where the target is.

Begin with the end in mind.

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Words of wisdom

Gratitude is the best attitude.
Honesty is the best policy.

Before you speak, listen.
Before you write, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you invest, investigate.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
Before you retire, save.
Before you die, give.

"When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves."

“A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.”

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

“Teaching is more than imparting knowledge, it is inspiring change.
Learning is more than absorbing facts, it is acquiring understanding.”

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Rise and shine,
Be nice and smile.

"‎You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.

To overcome evil with good is good. To resist evil with evil is evil.

If you really want to give up...give up on bad and negative habits.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

A careless word may kindle strife. A cruel word may wreck a life. A timely word may level stress. A loving word may heal and bless. 

If you are feeling stressed, take a rest,
If you are feeling down, kneel down....pray to Allah.

Never avoid what you must face. Challenge your circumstances and steadily persevere. The path toward victory opens from where you stand. 

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

‎"To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift."

"Be nice to people on your way up because you'll meet them on your way down."

‎"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."
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Words of wisdom: Determination

“The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain -- he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem -- he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved. It is better to master one mountain than a thousand foothills.”

Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.

It's never too late to realize your ambitions. Take the first step by daring to dream big dreams. Then have the confidence to take a few risks and make those dreams a reality. You'll be glad you did.
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Words of wisdom: Action

In life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.

For every failure, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.

High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.

It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.

You must take action now that will move you towards your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life.

A pyramid isn't built from the top down. The apex is attained only by laying strong foundation stones, one by one. The same is true of achieving a lofty objective. The crucial thing is to lay the first stone, to take the first step.
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Ahmad Sanusi Husain :

Philanthropy in Islam

PHILANTHROPY, in simple words, signifies acts done for the welfare of mankind. Every religion has philanthropic components to it. Islam is no exception; in fact, Islamic injunctions make acts of charity obligatory.

However, for many in the West, the concept of philanthropy is not a feature that is likely to be associated with Islam. Instead of kindness, compassion, mercy, generosity and love of mankind, ordinarily westerners tend to characterise Islam by such features as violence, terrorism, intolerance, authoritarianism, oppression of women, etc. There are two reasons for this grave misconception: their ignorance of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (PBUH); and the irresponsible attitude of certain Muslims. In fact, Islamic texts contain numerous injunctions to perform good deeds and to serve fellow humans.

The Quran says: “But righteous is the one who… gives away wealth, out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free” (2:177). “So give to the near of kin his due, and to the needy and the wayfarer. This is best for those who desire Allah’s pleasure” (30:38).

Similarly, there are various sayings of the Prophet describing the significance of philanthropy: “You shall not enter Paradise until you have faith; and you cannot attain faith until you love one another. Have compassion on those who are on earth, and He who is in heaven will have compassion on you. God will show no compassion to him who has no compassion towards all human beings.”

“Doing justice between two persons is alms; and assisting a man upon his beast, and his baggage, is alms; and pure words, for which are rewards; and answering a questioner with mildness is alms; and every step which is made towards prayer is alms; and removing that which is inconvenience to man, such as stones and thorns, is alms.”

Philanthropy, in Islam, is of two kinds: obligatory and voluntary. Obligatory philanthropy consists of zakat and zakat-ul-fitr or fitrana; whereas, voluntary philanthropy includes the institutions of sadaqa and waqf.

Zakat is the share or portion of wealth that is obligatory upon a Muslim to give to fixed categories of beneficiaries, if the value of his assets is more than a specified limit. The beneficiaries of zakat are mentioned in the Quran: “(Zakat) charity is only for the poor, and the needy, and those employed to administer it, and those whose hearts are made to incline

(to truth), and (to free) the captives, and those in debt, and in the way of Allah and for the wayfarer” (9:60). In an Islamic state, the government is responsible for the collection and administration of zakat. Zakat-ul-fitr or fitrana is the charity which every Muslim, having a certain amount of wealth, pays at the end of the month of Ramazan. Zakat-ul-fitr is
mandatory on every Muslim not only on his own behalf, but also on behalf of all the persons he is in charge of.

Sadaqa not only means charity in the form of money or food, but includes every act done for the benefit of fellow men. The Prophet said: “Every act of goodness is sadaqa”; and “there is a sadaqa due on every Muslim. If he cannot give because he has no money, let him work so he can support himself and give charity; if he is unable to work, then let him help someone

in need of his help; if he cannot do that, let him adjoin good; if he cannot do that, then he should not do evil or harm others: it will be written for him as a sadaqa.”

Waqf is the permanent dedication, by a Muslim, of any property for any purpose recognised by Islamic law as religious, pious or charitable. Waqf causes the transfer of ownership, of the thing dedicated, to God. But as God is above using or enjoying any property, its profits are reverted, devoted, or applied to the benefit of mankind.

Any property can be the subject of waqf. The validity of a waqf is determined by the possibility of everlasting benefit being derived from it by any form of dealing of which it is capable, or by converting it into something else. It is only where the subject matter is totally unfit for being turned into profitable use that its dedication fails.

The Islamic institution of waqf has a wider scope and purpose than that of a trust in the English law. The institution became so popular and important in Islamic countries that, in most of them, a special ministry was established to deal with the administration of waqf properties.

Islam lays great emphasis on supporting the destitute. The Quran and Sunnah declare in clear words that it is the responsibility of the wealthy to look after the deprived sections of society. Muslims are not only instructed to do good to fellow humans, but are also told to treat animals well and to protect the environment.

Though other religions too preach and encourage philanthropy, Islam takes a step further by making it compulsory in the form of zakat. Islam has made it the responsibility of the Islamic state to ensure that people perform this obligation. Thus, a non-payer of zakat not only incurs the displeasure of God, but can also be proceeded against by the state. In other words, philanthropy has been made a legal duty as well.

(by Syed Imad-ud-Din Asad: Dawn.Com: 25 Feb2012)

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