“Hong Kong could be part of the new economic Silk Road.” An encouraging and visionary remark made by Dr. Khoo Guan Seng, Head of the Innovative Unit at the Singapore Stock Exchange and an internationally recognized Islamic finance expert, in the Seminar on Islamic Finance: Opportunities and Risks, jointly organized by KORNERSTONE and Classified Post on 7 March 2011 at the Hong Kong Club Building, Central.

The recent unrest in the Middle East has not suppressed the strong desire of financial institutions to explore this uprising cross-investment opportunities which is still at its embryonic stage. According to Dr. Khoo, the global Islamic financial market is now worth around US$1 trillion and is expected to grow by 15% annually. Dr. Khoo emphasized that the future for Islamic finance is moving in one direction and that direction is growth.

It is clear that the rapid-going infrastructure projects heavily invested by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states require Islamic banks to collaborate with international banks to leverage on their larger distribution networks. Ample of wealthy individuals and companies in the Middle East and Middle Eastern sovereign funds are actively seeking international opportunities to diversify their investment that meet Islamic compliance structures. At the same time, international interests to have a finger in the pie of Islamic finance market is significant, especially after the failures of conventional financial products in recent years.

Dr Khoo also highlighted that “Hong Kong is so strongly placed to provide Middle Eastern investors with a platform to invest in the region,” The very first step for Hong Kong to successfully make inroads into the Islamic finance sector is, according to Dr. Khoo, to rely on a significant promotion on the understanding and awareness of the mechanisms that drive and govern Islamic finance markets. It is also worth noting that developing an Islamic finance platform could also create employment opportunities for accountants, tax professionals and investment analysts familiar or willing to learn the skills necessary to provide service that meet Islamic religious practices referred to as Sharia compliance.

The seminar on Islamic Finance has attracted over 30 senior practitioners with the majority of 70% on directorate grade representing various financial institutions. Benjamin Green, a participant at the seminar says, “The seminar was truly inspiring. It was not about of the impressive 300 pages of Powerpoint notes prepared for our references, but I truly appreciated the live interactions between Dr. Khoo and the audiences. I found this discussion highly visionary and beneficial.”

To corner this burgeoning market for business success ahead of your competitors, it is time now to consider educating and training your staff. Email us enquiry@kornerstone.com.hk to learn more about our corporate training or visit our website at www.kornerstone.com.hk for more details.