WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6: After a whirlwind of meetings, events, conferences, and media interviews in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, and Hong Kong, Business Bermuda concluded the 2012 Asia Business Development Drive on a high note at the 3rd Annual World Islamic Banking Conference: Asia Summit 2012 (WIBC Asia 2012) in Singapore from June 5-6, 2012.
This year, for the first time, Business Bermuda was invited to be a part of the WIBC Asia 2012 through exhibiting and the opportunity to speak. Leading the delegation was Ms. Cheryl Packwood, CEO of Business Bermuda, joined by Mr. P. Jeyaratnam, Business Bermuda’s representative in Southeast Asia, Mr. Srikumar TE., Managing Director of Apex Funds Services Ltd., KUNG Whooi Phing, Director at Conyers Dill & Pearman in Singapore, and Yelena Packwood, Marketing & Sales Executive of Business Bermuda.
With over 500 industry leaders in attendance, there was an overwhelming interest in the opportunities available for Islamic finance clients in Bermuda, especially in the areas of Takaful and Re-Takaful in light of Bermuda’s strength as one of the top (Re) Insurance jurisdictions in the world. As one of the few Islamic finance centers in the Western hemisphere, Bermuda’s unique position to expand the Islamic finance market, now valued at over $1.1 trillion, was cause for much excitement.
Hussain AlQemzi, Chief Executive Officer, Noor Islamic Bank and Group Chief Executive Officer, Noor Investment Group, believes that in order to ensure an orderly evolution of Islamic finance from a niche segment into the mainstream international financial markets, it is vital to further enhance the industry’s capabilities for cross-border activities, which in turn will encourage innovative product development, robust and standardized regulatory frameworks and the long term stability of the industry. What the industry lacks at the moment is the breadth and depth that investors enjoy in the conventional market. An inter-linkage between the key Islamic financial centers will facilitate investor access to a wider range of Shariah-compliant products beyond those available in their domestic market.
Mr. Ravi Menon, Governor of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, opened the conference by stating, “Islamic Finance must strike roots in the key financial centers of the world…and it can grow into diverse areas such as trade and infrastructure development.” This set the tone for a speech by Ms. Packwood delineating how Bermuda is ideally suited bridge the gap between Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America.
Ms. Cheryl Packwood both presented and participated in a panel discussion on the topic, “Opening New Frontiers for Islamic Finance – New Geographies, New Developments, and New Products.”
Expounding on Bermuda’s established reputation as a premier jurisdiction experienced in handling Islamic finance structures, Ms. Packwood stated, “Bermuda, traditionally one of the world’s most innovative business centers, has moved rapidly to provide Islamic finance clients with all the professional and regulatory support services they need without risk, delay or complication.”
She added, “Bermuda now provides a favourable environment for the establishment of Shariah-compliant funds given its position as one of the world’s leading jurisdictions for the asset management industry and the Government’s receptive attitude to new entrants to the market. This information was new to many at the event, and there was a strong, genuine interest in learning more about Bermuda. I am optimistic about the growing relationship between Bermuda and the Islamic market in both Asia and the Middle East.”
Following the panel discussion, Ms. Packwood was invited to be a guest speaker to present on the role of Bermuda in bridging the divide between East and West at an invitation-only Islamic finance forum hosted in Malaysia in September for decision makers in the world of Islamic Finance.