Focusing on Islamic finance, the Fall Finance Forum on Drake’s campus offered an opportunity for Drake students, individuals in the finance industry, and members of the Des Moines community to learn about this rapidly expanding industry.
“The management of Islamic funds represents one of the fastest growing segments of the financial services industry, and Drake was lucky to host a number of experts in the field for this event,” says Tom Root, associate professor of finance in the College of Business and Public Administration, which hosted the forum in partnership with Bloomberg and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society Iowa.
While Islamic finance is similar to conventional finance in terms of services, its operations adhere not only to government rules and regulations but also to Sharia, or Islamic religious law. Sharia forbids making money from money—so interest, for example, is prohibited. Investment in companies involved with alcohol, gambling, tobacco, or pornography are also forbidden.
“After the recession hit, there was significant interest in Islamic finance because it performed better than traditional markets,” says Matthew Mitchell, assistant professor of international business. “Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, and many Muslims may not participate in the conventional financial market or were forced into the conventional market. Now they have a choice. The institutions that regulate and promote Islamic finance have matured and investors are now taking advantage of the new sharia-compliant options available to them.”
The daylong forum, which was free and open to the public, featured breakout sessions with leaders in Islamic finance as well as Bloomberg knowledge experts who addressed using Bloomberg data analytical tools in a number of areas. Speakers included Datuk Noripah Kamso, an advisor at CIMB Islamic and author of Investing in Islamic Funds, and Daud Vicary Abdullah, president of the International Center for Education in Islamic Finance.
CFA Iowa has partnered with Drake on a number of endeavors, including the CFA Institute’s Investment Research Challenge. Karey Anderson, assistant portfolio manager at EMC Insurance Companies in Des Moines and president of CFA Iowa, encouraged her colleagues to attend the forum to learn more about both Islamic finance and Bloomberg, but also to network.
“The opportunity to have experts in the field available to discuss these topics with CFA members was directly in line with one of our strategic objectives, which is to help members improve their professional competence by delivering high-quality educational content with breadth and depth,” says Anderson. “Additionally, many members of our organization are daily Bloomberg users. This product has vast capabilities and is constantly improving and adding new information, screens, and mnemonics. Seeing the Bloomberg specialists showcase their particular area of focus allowed our users to see capabilities they may not have known even existed.”
Farhad Mian, BN’00, GR’05, ‘07, vice president of risk and asset allocation for Athene Asset Management in West Des Moines, attended the event, which he heard about through the Drake University Alumni Association.
“This is the first time I’ve attended a seminar like this at Drake,” says Mian. “I’ve talked with Professor Root in the past about Drake taking leadership here, and working with local insurance companies, using various platforms to discuss new ideas and best practices in business. It’s really great to see Drake in this role, especially as an alum.”