The hottest day of the year and the new British Prime Minister’s first day at No. 10 coincided with the launch of a special report, also a first in many respects. The Islamic Finance Consumer Report 2019, looking at Muslim awareness, usage and perceptions in Islamic Finance in the UK, was launched at Westminster today by Gatehouse Bank, a UK challenger bank that released residential and buy to let consumer home purchase plans in the UK in late 2018/early 2019.
After a decade of austerity, it’s refreshing to see new options for people looking at more ethical ways to finance property purchases in Britain. The Muslim Wealth Portal was delighted to attend today’s influential round table, Chaired by Lord Sheikh (an advocate and ambassador for Islamic Finance). We appreciate all too well the value of reminding people about financial choices they believe are not available in the UK. Gatehouse Bank might be one of those informed choices but The Muslim Wealth Portal exists to signpost UK consumer to a holistic market offer for Halal Finance (or Sharia Finance).
The UK is the leader in Islamic Finance outside the Middle East and South East Asia. However, Gatehouse Bank has been offering sharia-compliant UK banking products and services for savings and real estate since 2007. The launch of today’s report at Westminster was exciting – partly due to the sheer number of journalists on the lawn outside Millbank House – but more so because this was to be the first in a series of reports that Gatehouse Bank plan to release, highlighting the opportunities for Islamic Finance in the UK.
Starting from almost zero 18 months ago, Charles Harsnape (Gatehouse Bank’s CEO and former MD of Aldermore) stated how the bank have amassed a circa £400m portfolio. However, the majority of their clientele are based abroad so it was recognised there is still a fantastic opportunity to unlock the UK market for indigenous customers. Gatehouse Bank might not be alone in harbouring this statistic considering the few alternative Islamic Banks operating in the UK tend to focus on foreign investment.
Its key messages include the need to raise awareness for Islamic Banking per se in the UK and educate people about the ethical nature of these products. Conversely, from the sample of people interviewed during the data collection exercise, most were happy with the service they’d received from the industry but The Muslim Wealth Portal can’t help but wonder, the majority of these people might indeed be existing customers of Islamic Finance solutions.
There’s probably a long way to go before all economically active people in the UK, who have a desire to acquire an Islamic Home Purchase Plan for example, actually end up doing so. Gatehouse Bank has certainly opened the door to expediting that process and this is something The Muslim Wealth Portal commends.