Exclusive interview with Faizal Karbani, CEO of Insure Halal UK, where he talks about Islamic finance and Takaful.
What is your experience in the field of Islamic economics and finance and especially in Takaful?
In 2005, to supplement my BSc Economics from LSE and my qualification as a Chartered Accountant, I trained as a Wealth Manager & Financial Adviser specifically to work in the Islamic Finance industry to advise Private Clients on Shariah Compliant financial planning & investments.
So for the last 12 years I’ve been working in the UK in this capacity. During this time I’ve also worked as a Finance Manager for QIB UK, I train professionals on Islamic Finance and have written a book on Islamic Finance entitled “Mastering Islamic Finance” published by Pearsons. Regarding Takaful, it has been very obvious for a long time that there has been a dire lack of options in the UK and the West generally. So for the last 5 years I have been working in the background with Sharia scholars and professionals with the aim of bringing Takaful products in the market.
What inspires you?
Providing authentic Shariah compliant options to Muslims and the wider market is what drives me; if I can play a role doing this, I hope my Lord will be pleased with me.
What are the main challenges you face when implementing your mission?
Building awareness and educating the Muslim retail market is a pre-requisite to the market accepting and buying the product. Many Muslims are unaware about what makes conventional insurance impermissible and what the halal alternative is. Hence a lot of effort has to be put into building awareness and education.
The other challenge is to find quality insurance capacity providers who are prepared to work with us and have a Shariah compliant window to serve this niche market.
What are the Takaful covers that Insure Halal offers?
Currently we provide Halal Home & Landlord Insurance. We are looking to expand into Travel, Mosque and SME in the next phase God Willing.
Can you tell us which model is widely used in the UK market?
It is the Wakala model currently (there is no investment management component currently). One of the great features of our proposition is that we have a state of the art digital offering – whereby the consumer buys directly online. The pricing mechanism is such that the consumer chooses the risks he/she wants cover for, each risk is priced and the overall price reflects this. The policy wording has been designed to be clear, straight forward and conscise.
What would you see as areas for improvement and what would be the means to achieve these objectives?
We have only launched on 22nd Dec so it is very early days. Our early impression/learnings are that it is imperative we focus on engaging with the Muslim audience up and down the country – building awareness and educating them.
The perception of Takaful is that its products and services are targeted to Muslims only; we know that Takaful institutions cater to all religions, or to every customer, so how do you think we should market Takaful products and services to Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe?
Very good and important question. In our venture we decided to brand our product as Insure Halal – the idea was to first market to the Muslim audience – this would give us focus and serve a market that was in desperate need of Takaful products. Once we have established this, we intend to create a brand that will appeal to those looking for a more ethical product. For this segment, the marketing needs to bring out the ethical features of takaful.
Do you have some advice for entrepreneurs who want to implement Islamic finance and Takaful in Europe?
Understand the environment – the constraints, the opportunities, the demand. Work in a smart way – with the conventional sector if required, to provide solutions in the areas required. If it helps, the branding doesn’t have to be Islamic – as long as the substance is authentically Sharia compliant, then it can be marketed on its ethical features and for the Muslim audience you can signify that it is Shariah compliant.
We have Europe on our radar, so we intend to look at the French market soon insha’Allah. We are happy to talk to potential strategic partners.
This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 15 Issue 11 dated the 14th March 2018.
Share this article: