A:

Islamic investments are a unique form of socially responsible investments because Islam makes no division between the spiritual and the secular.

The establishment of an Islamic investment policy, be it for the institutional or individual investor, starts with the Sharia Board, a group of Islamic scholars (jurists) that vests investment products for compliance with Islamic Law and conducts ongoing due diligence of them. Sources for interpretation follow a hierarchy of authority: the Quran, believed by Muslims to be the words of Allah verbatim as revealed to his prophet Muhammad in the seventh century; the Sunnah which are rules from the prophet's sayings (Hadiths) and actions; Qiyas which are scholarly legal deductions; and Ijma, the consensus of scholars on a particular issue.

The challenges that a Sharia-compliant portfolio faces would appear to be no different than those that any other portfolio manager would come up against. A manager formulates an investment thesis which drives portfolio selection criteria. He or she then needs to decide against the appropriate benchmark against which to measure performance. Managing assets in accordance with Islamic precepts is a bit more unique in that the practice is a form of socially responsible investing with the unique specification of avoiding interest bearing investments of any kind. Because borrowing and setting aside excess funds in short-term, low-risk, interest-bearing instruments are integral to corporate finance, the application of Islamic law to corporate finance poses some interesting questions.

Is it feasible for a portfolio manager to be completely invested at all times? May one remain faithful to Islamic law in the stock selection when the realities of corporate finance dictate the need for companies, even those not engaged in prohibited businesses, both to borrow and to find a principal-protected repository for excess cash?

From a private client portfolio management perspective, once armed with Sharia-permissible products, an investment committee at an Islamic private wealth firm would face the same issues as any other, namely, how to develop, implement and monitor an investment policy consistent with a client's objectives. Additional challenges exist, namely the lack of both a deep secondary market for these products and the lack of uniform standards in the vetting process across the Muslim world.

To read more on this subject, see Working With Islamic Finance.

RELATED FAQS
  1. Does mutual fund manager tenure matter?

    Mutual fund investors have numerous items to consider when selecting a fund, including investment style, sector focus, operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why do financial advisors dislike target-date funds?

    Financial advisors dislike target-date funds because these funds tend to charge high fees and have limited histories. It ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What licenses does a hedge fund manager need to have?

    A hedge fund manager does not necessarily need any specific license to operate a fund, but depending on the type of investments ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can mutual funds invest in hedge funds?

    Mutual funds are legally allowed to invest in hedge funds. However, hedge funds and mutual funds have striking differences ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. When are mutual funds considered a bad investment?

    Mutual funds are considered a bad investment when investors consider certain negative factors to be important, such as high ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What fees do financial advisors charge?

    Financial advisors who operate as fee-only planners charge a percentage, usually 1 to 2%, of a client's net assets. For a ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Fundamental Analysis

    3 Misconceptions About Warren Buffett

    Learn why Warren Buffett is the man behind the curtain and how he is misunderstood regarding the ways he has adapted and changed his investing approach over the years.
  2. Investing

    3 Healthy Financial Habits for 2016

    ”Winning” investors don't just set it and forget it. They consistently take steps to adapt their investment plan in the face of changing markets.
  3. Investing

    How to Ballast a Portfolio with Bonds

    If January and early February performance is any guide, there’s a new normal in financial markets today: Heightened volatility.
  4. Retirement

    Smart Ways to Tap Your Retirement Portfolio

    A rundown of strategies, from what to liquidate first to how much to withdraw, along with their tax consquences.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The ABCs of Mutual Fund Classes

    There are three main mutual fund classes, and each charges fees in a different way.
  6. Investing Basics

    5 Common Mistakes Young Investors Make

    Missteps are common whenever you’re learning something new. But in investing, missteps can have serious financial consequences.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The 4 Best American Funds for Growth Investors in 2016

    Discover four excellent growth funds from American Funds, one of the country's premier mutual fund families with a history of consistent returns.
  8. Products and Investments

    A Guide to DIY Portfolio Management

    These are some of the pillars needed to build a DIY portfolio.
  9. Investing

    What Investors Need to Know About Returns in 2016

    Last year wasn’t a great one for investors seeking solid returns, so here are three things we believe all investors need to know about returns in 2016.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The Top 5 Buffalo Funds for Retirement Diversification in 2016

    Discover the top five Buffalo Funds for retirement diversification in 2016, with a summary of each fund, including manager and performance information.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Sortino Ratio

    A modification of the Sharpe ratio that differentiates harmful ...
  2. Equity Risk Premium

    The excess return that investing in the stock market provides ...
  3. Alpha

    Alpha is used in finance to represent two things: 1. a measure ...
  4. Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)

    A security that tracks an index, a commodity or a basket of assets ...
  5. Compound Annual Growth Rate - CAGR

    The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is the mean annual growth ...
  6. Return On Investment - ROI

    A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Short Selling

    Short selling is the sale of a security that is not owned by the seller, or that the seller has borrowed. Short selling is ...
  2. Harry Potter Stock Index

    A collection of stocks from companies related to the "Harry Potter" series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks ...
  3. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  4. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  5. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  6. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
Trading Center