Investments  

Thou shall invest by the Bible

This is probably because there are few asset managers operating this type of mandate, and those who do may not want to be part of the IA sector, he said.

He added the IA does not exclude funds on the basis that they may be considered distasteful.

Funds that invest based on biblical values are nothing new. For example, LKCM Aquinas Catholic Equity Fund (formerly the LKCM Aquinas Value Fund) holds securities based on the guidelines set out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. To this end, it avoids companies involved in abortion, contraceptives and embryonic stem cell research, among others.

Equally, Eden Tree Investment Management (formerly Ecclesiastical Investment Management) is owned by a charity with an inherent religious background. 

The fund house’s parent group, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, was set up to protect the Anglican Church. The group itself is owned by the charity Allchurches Trust which was established in 1972 “to promote the Christian faith and to contribute to the funds of other charities,” according to its website.

Shariah compliant

A spokesman for Hargreaves Lansdown said he was not aware of products similar to the biblical ETFs but said the firm does cater to the needs of Islamic investors by providing funds that comply with Shariah investment principles. This includes funds offered by Oasis Crescent as well as Aberdeen Global Services.

Sukuk bonds are among the more esoteric financial instrument to have been designed to circumvent the prohibition of owning investments that pay interest.

They replace distributions of interest with rent or profits which come from the assets underlying the sukuk. So a sukuk investor has shares in the ownership of the assets linked to the investment although this does not represent a debt owed to the issuer of the bond.

Esoteric they may be but this does not mean that there is little demand for the product. In fact, in summer 2014, the UK became the first western country to issue an Islamic bond, attracting orders totalling around £2.3bn.

Brian Adams, director and founder of Islamic Wealth Management, said: “The biggest problem is not many people are aware that there are products out there that align to their religious beliefs. In my experience, a lot of investments made by Muslims are restricted to buying a property and renting it out, but there are a lot of disadvantages when it comes to this type of investment – such as stamp duty.”

He added: “I would say categorically that the vast majority of advisers do not have a discussion with clients about investing based on their religious beliefs. Many do not consider this line of business because there is ample opportunity in the conventional adviser market.”