The Responsible Finance Podcast
Responsible Finance Champions: CIMB Islamic Bank’s responsible finance journey

Responsible Finance Champions: CIMB Islamic Bank’s responsible finance journey

June 19, 2019

The RFI Foundation is excited to announce the release of an in-depth case study of one of our member financial institutions, CIMB Islamic Bank (“CIMB Islamic”), which has adopted responsible finance practices in a systematic way. The case study and this companion podcast are designed to show that it is possible for an Islamic bank to integrate responsible finance practices into its operations and strategy and to generate wide stakeholder buy-in based on a fundamental business rationale. 

The case study and podcast expand a shorter case study that was included in the Refinitiv-RFI Foundation report titled “Islamic Finance ESG Outlook 2019”, which was released during the RFI Summit 2019. The report, which also includes knowledge-building materials created by RFI Foundation in collaboration with Refinitiv, focused on the financial materiality of responsible finance for Islamic financial institutions. Taken together, the case study, podcast and report demonstrate there is a defensible, clear business case for Islamic banks to seek out strategic advantage in responsible finance.

CIMB Islamic, and the whole CIMB Group, have shown through their actions that there is a repeatable process for Islamic banks to adopt responsible finance practices. Focused on CIMB Islamic, this podcast documents how CIMB Group achieved buy-in from a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders, including management, shareholders and directors, with the support of employees who are passionate about sustainability, particularly millennials.

How does Islamic finance incorporate ESG and other responsibility concerns into industry practices?

How does Islamic finance incorporate ESG and other responsibility concerns into industry practices?

March 19, 2019

This month, we are featuring an interview with Stella Cox CBE, Managing Director of DDCAP Group.  As you’ll hear, she has been involved with the Islamic finance industry for many years and has been a consistent champion for Islamic finance, responsible finance and women in the financial sector. 

Ms. Cox was a member of the UK Government’s Task Force on Islamic Finance that advised the government on its debut sukuk issuance, one of the first from a non-Muslim majority country sovereign issuer.  Her other contributions to the development of Islamic finance are too numerous to mention in full here, but we’ll cover a few of her most important contributions to Islamic finance in our interview.

A credit rating agency finds ‘natural’ links between Islamic finance, sustainability and ESG

A credit rating agency finds ‘natural’ links between Islamic finance, sustainability and ESG

February 19, 2019

When the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) launched their Credit Rating Initiative, one of the six founding members was RAM Ratings, after interacting with WWF and Saturna Capital on sustainable finance and understanding how a credit rating agency could drive change. RAM Ratings was the first domestic credit rating agency in Malaysia when it was set up in 1990. In the time since, as Malaysia has developed Islamic capital markets, RAM has rated many of the sukuk issued as Malaysia’s sukuk market became the most liquid in the world.

RAM extended its innovation in Islamic finance to sustainable finance through RAM Consultancy, a provider of sustainability services and ESG analytics that plays a vital role as an industry catalyst for both. RAM Consultancy CEO Promod Dass, who was previously Deputy CEO for RAM Ratings, linked the evolution from Islamic finance to responsible finance. Speaking with the RFI podcast, he said: “It was natural for us to envisage the strong linkages or shared values between the ethical/responsible finance elements in Islamic finance as well as sustainability and ESG.”

Listen to the rest of the podcast to learn more about how ESG factors are becoming systematically and transparently integrated into credit rating methodologies, and how Islamic finance, sustainability and ESG intersect and complement one another in understanding and measuring investment and financing risks. 

An Australian Super Fund sees a role for Islamic investment to reverse ‘intergenerational theft’

An Australian Super Fund sees a role for Islamic investment to reverse ‘intergenerational theft’

January 23, 2019

This month, we are featuring an interview with Talal Yassine, OAM, Managing Director of Crescent Wealth, who is also a member of the RFI Foundation Board of Trustees. 

In addition to his work at Crescent Wealth, he’s active across a range of organizations in Australia.  Talal is an Adjunct Professor within the Business School, Western Sydney University he is Chairman of Quay Capital, the Australian Arab Dialogue Limited, and as the Patron of the Crescent Institute Ltd. He also serves on the Board of the Whitlam Institute Ltd.

Talal has previously served on the Board of Australia Post, Sydney Ports, Macquarie University and as the Chairman of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Council of Australian Arab Relations.

Creativity helps to build bridges between sustainable, responsible & Islamic finance and encourages beneficial uses of technology in the process

Creativity helps to build bridges between sustainable, responsible & Islamic finance and encourages beneficial uses of technology in the process

December 19, 2018

This month, we are featuring an interview with Mounir Khouzami, Executive Board Member, Chairman of the Advisory Board and Co-Founder of Swiss Arab Network, who has also recently joined the RFI Foundation Board of Trustees.  As he will explain, Mounir is working across three nonprofits to advance his personal mission of being an “intercultural bridge builder”.  He has spent the past 10 years, most recently with UBS, working on strategy, innovation, change management in finance. We also discuss what we have learned from the last two RFI Summits and what we are looking forward to for RFI Summit 2019.

Poverty is not natural and can be overcome and eradicated - An interview with Inge Relph

Poverty is not natural and can be overcome and eradicated - An interview with Inge Relph

November 20, 2018

This episode of the podcast features an interview with Inge Relph, Head of Sustainability & Strategic Relationships of the ERA Foundation, who has also recently joined the RFI Foundation Board of Trustees.  Inge’s career has been guided by the global dimensions on human rights and how women can play an important role in the process of peacebuilding. She has taken a hands-on approach to her work including living in Egypt and mentoring women leaders through conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Syria. 

Her career has included stops consulting for the United Nations, executive roles in the private sector and founding a number of nonprofit organizations.  She was a Senior Advisor to The Elders, a group of senior statespeople including Kofi Annan, President Carter, Gro Brundtland and others, during the landmark year of the SDG agreement and Paris Accord on environment.

Silicon Valley & Shari’ah compliant: Find out how thirdACT finances energy efficiency without debt

Silicon Valley & Shari’ah compliant: Find out how thirdACT finances energy efficiency without debt

September 19, 2018

Diane Schrader is Founder & CEO of thirdACT.  ThirdACT is a FinTech working to drive resiliency in communities with non-debt financing of energy efficiency and renewable energy investment. Instead of using debt, thirdACT finances properties’ energy efficiency upgrades in exchange for a share of future sale proceed for the next 20-30 years. This structure provides an uncertain individual property level return that, with help from big data, can be combined together into a portfolio that meets investor needs. 

How can Islamic finance leverage technology in support of positive environmental and social impact?

How can Islamic finance leverage technology in support of positive environmental and social impact?

August 21, 2018

We have been doing the podcast now for a year – this is the thirteenth episode – and so we’re going to change up the podcast with a guest host.  Our guest host is Stuart Hutton, Chief Investment Officer of Simply Ethical, and he’ll interview Blake Goud, CEO of the RFI Foundation about RFI.  In the conversation, Blake shares the history of the RFI Foundation, why it was set up, what it has accomplished so far and what it's working on for the rest of the year.  We had a lot of good conversations in the first year of the podcast, and we are always interested to have feedback.  If you have any feedback, including suggestions for future guests, please drop us an email at info@rfi-foundation.org, or tweet it to us @RFIFoundation.

What happens when a commercial banker goes to divinity school?

What happens when a commercial banker goes to divinity school?

July 17, 2018
Michael Looft has lived a storied life. A globe trotter by nature, he’s worked and traveled in upwards of 50 countries around the world. Michael has spent over a decade working in financial services for the poor (microfinance) at the crowdfunding organizations Kiva and Lendahand. He holds graduate degrees from both St. John's College and Harvard. 
 
Michael has published three books. His latest book is the novel Crossing Allenby Bridge, a story of a man whose adventures around Asia and the Middle East teach him how lead with love through microfinance and Islamic finance. He has also published two non-fiction works: Inspired Finance and Social Impact Finance.

When he is not writing or traveling the world eating exotic foods and meeting interesting people, Michael can be found either trail running or camping with his son.

You can visit him at michaellooft.com

Interview with Matthew Joseph Martin, Founder & CEO of Blossom Finance

Interview with Matthew Joseph Martin, Founder & CEO of Blossom Finance

June 20, 2018

Matthew Joseph Martin is an early pioneer in the application of financial tech for responsible finance. Combining his passion for Islamic finance with his deep financial technology background, Matthew founded Blossom Finance in 2014 which aims to increase the availability and inclusivity of Islamic microfinance.

Matthew's background includes engineering and product management experience in the payment card, money remittance, mobile payments, and mobile banking sectors at venture capital funded, international tech startups Xoom, Boku, and Monitise. He has advised technology startups on various topics including blockchain, payment technology, product management, and sharia finance.

Matthew has spoken to various international audiences on the topics of crowdfunding, microfinance, and blockchain at events in the United States, Bahrain, Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. He's also an early advocate for proof-of-ownership and distributed ledger technology like Bitcoin; in 2013, he launched his first cryptocurrency business allowing instant purchase of Bitcoin from 27 countries using just a mobile phone. Matthew has studied 8 languages and speaks Indonesian, Farsi, and French at an intermediate level in addition to his native English. Matthew embraced Islam in 2010 and lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with his wife and son.