Scotland business

Faith groups in ethical financial services move

IFC advisory board member Omar Shaikh and Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison Image copyright Andrew O'Brien
Image caption The joint venture was announced by Islamic Finance Council advisory board member Omar Shaikh and the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison

The Church of Scotland and the Islamic Finance Council UK (IFC) have joined forces in a drive to create new ethical financial services.

They will examine the "practical commercial viability" of models which can tackle inequality and poverty.

The faith groups said the joint venture arose from a shared belief that financial institutions had in recent years "lost their social conscience".

They plan to come up with solutions over the next year.

In a joint statement, the faith groups said their work aimed to benefit all of society, regardless of faith or belief.

The project will research, shortlist and test ideas before a consultation and business plan phase is launched.

A workshop will be held in May in Edinburgh, with theological and financial experts coming to Scotland from as far afield as Nigeria, Malaysia and Bahrain.

The Church of Scotland and IFC said ongoing scandals of mis-selling payment protection and interest rate fixing had "raised the question" if reforms had worked in the aftermath of the banking crisis of 2008.

'Money-making machines'

The Right Reverend Dr Angus Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "Our current system has gone badly wrong, creating massive inequality and the destruction of our shared natural resources by money-making machines overtaking commerce that serves the common good.

"The Christian and Islamic faith traditions share a commitment to economic justice and a call to an equal distribution of the gifts of God.

"By collaborating and 'putting our money where our morals are' we have an opportunity to live out our common values and make a tangible change for those most affected by poverty."

'Strong relationship'

IFC advisory board member Omar Shaikh said: "In recent years we have developed a strong relationship with the Church of Scotland and this project is a result of that positive engagement and the mutual desire to work collaboratively on a project which brings together the best of our respective faiths.

"Scotland has a proud heritage in ethical finance with the savings bank movement able to trace its origins back to the Rev Henry Duncan of the Church of Scotland.

"This model was also used as the blueprint for the early Islamic banking attempts in the 1960s, which makes it particularly poignant that this new initiative in being led in Scotland."

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