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By Marc Shoffman | Published Mar 16, 2012

‘Moral leadership through ethical banking model’

Omar Shaikh, executive board member of the Islamic Finance Council UK, was speaking in support of the Fiscal Engineers/Financial Adviser campaign to restore public and professional trust in financial services.

He said: “The financial crisis and its persisting issues of banker bonuses and sovereign debt defaults have highlighted issues of moral bankruptcy in our current way of banking.

“The IFC believes the shared values between Islamic finance, the church and other ethical finance movements could inspire a more stable and prudent banking sector.

“Islamic finance is growing as its principles comply with the moral ethics shared by many people, regardless of their faith background.

“The UK can show global moral leadership if the right parties work together to create a new banking model based on the shared ethical values woven into the tapestry of the UK’s diverse communities.”

Mr Shaikh said consumers were basing their financial and purchasing decisions on moral considerations, as shown by the Fair Trade movement.

He added: “This shows we need a more just, transparent and socially aware banking system that enhances consumer trust and confidence, facilitates business for small and medium-sized enterprises and improves social cohesion by putting the people first.”

The Reverend Leslie Griffiths, Methodist minister and life peer, said: “Trust is the basis on which all decent societies works. It the hardest thing in the world to replace.

“The financial sector is part of a decent society. Our pensions, mortgages and savings are invested in the financial sector.

“In the past we entrusted these things to competent people to do what needed to be done. This financial crisis has made us doubt whether we were right to invest our trust in this way.”

The Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, former Church of England Bishop of Rochester, said he was pleased to back the campaign. He added: “In the past the best of British financial and commercial life was characterised by the values of responsibility, honesty, trust and hard work.

“Such values arose from a view of accountability before God, the sacredness of even the most humble task and the recognition of mutual obligation by people of all classes and callings, one towards another. I hope this campaign will help us to recover such a vision.”

Adrian Coles, director general of the Building Societies Association, said: “After the past few years it is unsurprising some consumers don’t trust parts of the financial services industry.

“This extends to those ex-building societies that became banks in the 1990s, turning their backs on their mutual roots and opting for the profit-maximising shareholder model. It is telling that not one of them exists as an independent entity today.

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