Paul Stockwell, Chief Commercial Officer at Gatehouse Bank
Whenever a financial organisation launches a new product, despite all the research and insight they may have carried out, there is that sense of nervousness as they wait to see how it will be received.
When you occupy a relatively nascent sector in the UK — such as sharia-compliant finance — that concern is increased because every product involves convincing people to consider and choose something new. In our case, that goes for many Muslim consumers too. While many of the UK’s almost 3.4 million Muslim community would prefer sharia-compliant products, they have for years had to settle for conventional finance in the absence of any real choice or products that fit their religious needs.
So, in December, when we piloted our first home purchase plan (HPP) — a sharia-compliant mortgage alternative — we had a good idea who our proposition would appeal to. However, we have been surprised by the strong response we have seen. Experience tells us that no amount of market research can guarantee how a new financial product will be received. In the end, it is always the market that decides and that can either be exciting or depressing, depending on the response. We are fortunate enough to have been positively surprised by the reaction to our HPP proposition.