I am interested and keen into breaking into Islamic finance, however, I’m unable to find the best route for myself in doing so. Do you have any suggestions on how this can be achieved?
I’m a mature student studying at a non-target university and currently in my penultimate year. I understand the need for professional Qualification is most certainly an option in conventional finance e.g CFA, ACA, CIMA or a qualification in Islamic finance itself. Furthermore, Would you suggest taking either one of those or an Islamic finance qualification on its own?
Pathways into Islamic finance
  1. Many people specialise in conventional finance and then switch over. We’re not fans as it means you have to engage in impermissible stuff first.
  2. You work for an Islamic finance institution from the start. Halal, but downside is that such institutions are not usually great places to learn.
  3. You work in professional services (e.g. lawyer or accountant) and as part of your wider focus, you have an expertise in Islamic finance. Pros are this is usually permissible, you get an actual qualification and skill out of it, and learn mainstream finance too. Cons are to work in Islamic finance even as a professional services employee, you will have to specialise in mainstream finance. While one could make justificatory arguments for such a job, our personal preference would be to avoid such specialisations where you will subsequently end up spending the majority of your time drawing up contracts based on riba.
  4. Academia – not well-paid and hard to get traction.
Qualifications to a career in Islamic finance
  1. none – many go for this approach and do pretty well
  2. professional qualifications – this is easy to get, and you should at least have something you can point to.
  3. serious academic qualification (e.g. BA, MA, or Phd) – this is great and gives you access to people you will later need as your career blossoms, however it is expensive, and doesn’t expose you to traditional ways of thinking.
  4. serious Islamic qualification  really useful to understand where classical Islamic law landed on topics. However not useful for a commercial discussion or an understanding of how the market works.
  5. Both serious Islamic and conventional qualification – this is ideal. Few actually achieve it though, as it usually means years of work and study.