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[Published: Wednesday September 02 2015]

Edinburgh, Scotland, 2 Sept. - (ANA) - The Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF) far exceeded global expectations after the first day of the 2-day gathering engaged the responsible investments industry from across Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Over 150 leaders from the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and faith-based investing sectors participated in historic discussions on various facets of ethical finance with the view of collectively forging the next chapter of the industry through collaboration and convergence.

The final panel from the first day included a discussion among distinguished historians on the faith-based roots of ethical finance.  Professor Ibrahim Warde explained the similarities between the three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) whose “ideal has always been support for the productive economy and wariness about a financial which puts its interests ahead of the real economy”.

GEFF is truly unique in that it has recognized that bringing ESG and Islamic screens together is a multi-billion dollar opportunity both within Western markets (coupling ‘prudent’ leverage restrictions with ESG) and as a way to get ahead of the competition in emerging markets.  Nadia Sood, Founding Partner of Impact Investment Partners, explained in an earlier session the interest in being much more pragmatic and drilling down to core issues of responsible finance and quantitatively measuring its core impact.

Jaseem Ahmed, Secretary General of the Islamic Financial Services Board, kick-started Day 2 with lessons that Islamic financial governance offer to the ethical finance industry. He said, “A reputation for compliance with ethical norms is a key to branding for Islamic finance.  Islamic finance compliance has been reinforced by the presence of Shariah advisory boards”. Indeed, Islamic finance has been proactive about developing linkages with regulators based on the experience of facing uneven playing fields and the need for active regulatory involvement to level the playing field.  This has led it to develop a more robust infrastructure to engage with the international regulatory architecture.

Mr. Ahmed’s speech is followed by a powerful line-up of experienced and respected industry practitioners. The lineup of speakers for Day 2 include powerhouses such as Harris Irfan, Managing Director of EIIB-Rasmala, Daud Vicary Abdullah, President and CEO of International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), Omar Selim, CEO of Arabesque Asset Management, Sasja Beslik, Head of Responsible Investments at Nordea Asset Management, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre.

One highlight of Day 2 is the official launch of the Thomson Reuters – Responsible Finance Institute Responsible Finance Report 2015, delivered by Blake Goud of Thomson Reuters. The Report provides a global overview of the ethical finance industry including Islamic finance and identifies the opportunities for growth that require the type of collaboration between Islamic finance and the other areas of ethical finance that is a focus at GEFF.  Paving the next steps for the industry, Mr. Goud said, “Islamic finance has an opportunity to take a leadership role and open many emerging markets for the type of growth that responsible investment has led within Western markets”.

The agenda of Day 2 includes the highly anticipated onstage interview of HRH Emir Muhammad Saunsi II, Emir of Kano by Dr. Sayd Farook, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Middle East Global Advisors. A distinguished leader in the banking world and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Emir Sanusi possesses a truly unique profile and his experience demonstrates that some of the most important lessons in banking reform can indeed come from the emerging world.

GEFF 2015 will culminate in an exclusive reception hosted by the Scottish Government at the Edinburgh Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The host of the evening, Humza Yousaf MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Europe and International Development, reiterated that the Scottish Government is “proud” to be supporting the forum, especially given that “Scotland has a long established expertise in financial services and a historic association with the principles of ethical finance.”

To find out more about GEFF, download the comprehensive brochure at - (ANA)

AB/ANA/ 2 September 2015 - - -


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