As we approach the end of the year, it’s amazing to think about all the things that have happened over the last 12 months and how far Wahed has come as a business. Although 2021 has been hugely challenging as countries continue to combat new variants of Coronavirus, we’ve gone from strength to strength as a company and are well-placed to enter 2022 with significant momentum. Until then, let’s take a look back at the year’s highlights:
The opening months of 2021
Earlier in the year, we welcomed the news that the UK issued its second sovereign Sukuk of £500 million. It doubled in size from its first issuance in 2014, and represents fantastic progress in making the United Kingdom the western hub for Islamic finance and ethical investing. Watch our interview on Al Jazeera here.
In March, we hosted the webinar entitled ‘Financial Wellness for Women – Get to Know Your Money Better’. As women are more likely to be financially excluded and unbanked than men, across the globe. This is why we take every opportunity to welcome efforts to increase female inclusion.
In April, we were honoured to receive Best Islamic Robo-Advisory Platform in the World Islamic Fintech Awards 2020. The award recognizes the best digital portfolio management system providing algorithm-based and largely automated Islamic financial investment advice and decisions.
And in May, we welcomed the launch of FIKRA Islamic Fintech Accelerator Programme in Malaysia. Wahed’s, senior VP Syakir Hashim spoke to Salaam Gateway to explain how the launch is a great development for not only the tech-based Islamic Finance community but the wider fintech and ESG communities as well.
A key year for appointments
This year, Umer Suleman joined as UK General Manager. His impressive background makes him an excellent addition to the team and ideal to lead our growth in the UK. He wasted no time in speaking to Business Insider about the huge demand for digitally accessible investment platforms that offer ethical and sustainable products.
We were also delighted to welcome legendary MMA champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Team Khabib as brand ambassadors to promote financial inclusion around the world, featured as an exclusive interview with Sky News.
Khabib told Fintech and Finance News, “I love Wahed because it’s halal, simple, and I believe we should all manage our money responsibly.” We are excited to have him on board and look forward to the great work we’ll do together.
July saw the very exciting launch of our app in the UK, which was well-received and featured in the Sunday Times. CityAM spoke to Junaid Wahedna ahead of the launch, which was made possible due to our work with WealthKernel. Karan Shanmugarajah, CEO and founder of WealthKernel told AltFi News this is a great step as we were “bringing accessible financial services to underserved markets, with responsible investing, and exceptional customer experience at its core.”
We were humbled to read Keith Grose’s comments – Head of International at Plaid – about Wahed and our app, when speaking to Finextra: “Wahed is a great example of one of the many companies offering more personalization and, ultimately, better financial outcomes…they’re helping to create a more inclusive global financial system that better serves many more people across the world.”
ETF and China
Since 2019, we’ve been proud to offer the Wahed FTSE USA Shariah ETF (HLAL) so we are humbled to finally launch the world’s first halalETF investing into China, in partnership with Value Partners Asset Management Malaysia.
This is an exciting opportunity for those looking to invest in the world’s second largest economy. Syakir Hashim, SVP and Country Head of Wahed Malaysia, spoke to The Edge Markets: “By incorporating the China A-Shares ETF into Wahed’s portfolios, Wahed’s clients will be able to track the performance of the fund and achieve further diversification in maximising long-term returns based on the risk profiles.”
South Africa launch
As part of its ongoing mission to promote greater financial inclusion and banking services around the world, Wahed has set its sights on delivering services in Africa. In August we were granted a regulatory license in South Africa , which allows us to roll out our app locally. South Africa is a great opportunity for us thanks to its booming fintech ecosystem and a population looking for accessible and inclusive ways to invest ethically and responsibly.
But as Chief Investment Officer Samim Abedi told CNBC Africa, South Africa isn’t the only African country we have big plans for. Our scheduled launch in Nigeria is extremely exciting for Wahed . The country is in the top 15 of most advanced Islamic Finance markets globally and we look forward to welcoming our Nigerian customers onto the platform.
We were also delighted to see major news outlet The Star feature Wahed in a detailed article about robo-investing and its rising popularity in the country. We are proud to be a part of Malaysia’s rich fintech ecosystem. In the last year Kuala Lumpur climbed 11 places in the Global Fintech Rankings. We have long seen the vast opportunities offered by the diverse country and received an Islamic Digital Investment Management License from Malaysia’s Securities Commission. We were featured in the country’s fintech showcase as part of their Tech Month, alongside some really fantastic other fintechs and stakeholders.
COP26 and climate change
During COP26, we were privileged to co-host the ‘Faith in the SDG Summit’, alongside partners FaithInvest, UKIFC, Wahed and the Church of Scotland. A number of key faith leaders and stakeholders were brought together during the summit to discuss the interaction between faith and climate finance. You can watch the highlights here. We were also fortunate enough to partake in a UN session, a task force that positions Green Sukuk as an innovative solution to attract private capital at scale to help developing and emerging economies and a roundtable session with ethical finance leaders.
Inaugural Impact Investing & Values-based Wealth Management Index
As a leader in ethical investments, we were excited to publish our inaugural Impact Investing & Values-based Wealth Management Index to shed light on how U.S. investors have shifted to values-based wealth management strategies since the onset of the pandemic and to gauge their views on impact investing, which you can read here.
Leading up to the launch of our Index, CIO Samim Abedi told Investment News in an exclusive byline, “Values-based investing has proliferated over the past few years, in large part fueled by younger generations’ desire to ensure their money supports companies that align with their personal beliefs. One look at the numbers shows that this practice of considering the environmental, social and governance impact of an organization when deciding whether to invest in it is showing no signs of slowing down.”
Findings from the report were also published in a byline by our VP North America, Saad Zariff, in Global Banking & Finance Review.
Closing thoughts on 2021 – Together we can shape an inclusive future for all
Wahed is all about making ethical investments as accessible to as many people as we can. It is not a mission we can achieve alone. Thank you to everyone for helping us on our important journey.