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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Shariah-compliant funds present key opportunities: PWC

Investment houses willing to take on the Shariah compliant funds market will reap significant rewards as the sector continues to grow, according to PriceWaterhouse Coopers.

In a new research paper, the actuary adds current forecasts estimate Shariah equity fund assets to increase from $15bn in 2008 to $53bn by 2010.

Elizabeth Stone, investment management tax partner, says: "Funds structured on Shariah principles provide conventional asset managers with a new pool of investors.

"The relative infancy of the sector is evident by the lack of Shariah-compliant products being offered by asset managers, however as the technical gap narrows, and as new products are developed the market participants that are involved in this initial development phase of Shariah-compliant funds are likely to derive significant benefits."

However, PWC adds it is important to note difficulties do exist in entering the market, namely: higher costs to set up and finance mandatory Shariah boards, on which the best-known scholars can receive compensation in the millions of dollars per year, along with an expensive screening process and a lack of scale in many funds which amplifies the costs.

"The impact of such costs should start to reduce as the average fund size increases and economies of scale are found across the industry. As time goes on and the markets become deeper and more liquid, a solution should automatically present itself," the report adds.

(By Alwynne Gwilt/Investment Week)

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