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Islamic scholars cashing in

Pay may be down for the average agnostic banker this year, but Islamic scholars are on a roll.

Just how much of a roll isn’t entirely clear, given that most people involved in the Islamic finance industry seem unwilling to stick their heads above the parapet with any firm figures.

Garry Envis, a consultant with Dar Al Istithmar Institute, a London-based agency which rents out four scholars as required, assures us the profession is “very lucrative”.

Last year the Financial Times ran an article claiming Islamic scholars were earning six-figure sums for their pronouncements on whether Islamic finance products adhere to Sharia law.

Given the FT says the market for Sharia-compliant financial products has risen 30% since then, and that the global supply of top Islamic scholars has apparently stagnated at 50, we deduce that the fees they collect for their services must have increased exponentially.

As a measure of their scarcity, Envis says there are no Islamic scholars at all based in the UK – most reside in the Middle East and fly in (allegedly on private jets) as required. This is despite the proliferation of Sharia-compliant products at the likes of HSBC, BNP Paribas and Merrill Lynch, and the launch of new organizations such as the Islamic Bank of Britain.

Unfortunately, becoming an Islamic scholar is no easy matter. Mohammad Khan, Director of Takaful, ReTakaful and Islamic Financial services at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP says it’s all down to reputation: “You need someone who combines an understanding of Islam with modern finance and economics and, where relevant, complex financial products.”

Most people aspiring to work in Islamic finance will need to go for something a little less high powered. Bill Allen, a consultant at search firm Napier Scott, says there’s plenty of demand for people who can structure Sharia-compliant products or work as CFOs, CEOs, treasurers or traders at Islamic banks.

Allen says a Sharia structurer in London can command 100k as a salary, plus multiples of this as a bonus.

Comments (4)

  1. There are Islamic Scholars who deserve to charge fees in excess of Six figure sums the reason behind this is the skill set they hold which has been harnessed through years if not decades of work in Shariah Law and economics. There have been some articles suggesting that some scholars are earning in excess of 1m. I won’t be surprised!!

    Islamic Banker – London Reply
  2. The only reason they are earning 6 figure salaries is because of limited supply of islamic scholars in the market and nothing else. The other reason is that Islamic finance is relatively new in the market.

  3. To be in the position to be able to give judgements on wether a product is Shariah compliant or not is akin to have a name big enough in the Islamic world as leading figures in the Western world. Some of these people have spent over 60 years of their lives focusing on islamic studies. It is not impressive to hear of 1mGBP figures when you have got people whose words resonate in the daily conduct of 100s of millions of people.

  4. The focus should not be on the remuneration of these professionals but rather on what they do with it.

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