Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.694843
Title: Investment characteristics of Islamic investment portfolios : evidence from Saudi mutual funds and global indices
Author: Binmahfouz, Saeed Salem
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
The study critically reviews the application of the Sharia investment screening process, from both Sharia and practical perspectives. In practice, there appears to be inconsistencies in the Sharia investment screening criteria among Islamic investment institutions, especially in terms of the tolerance level, as well as the changing of the Sharia rules. This certainly affects the confidence in the Sharia screening criteria standards, which might adversely affect the Islamic mutual funds industry. The non-income generating aspects, such as social and environmental concerns, are not incorporated in the contemporary Islamic investment screening process. This seems to be rather paradoxical, since it contradicts the Sharia-embedded ethical values of fairness, justice and equity. The thesis contends that external audits regarding the implementation of Sharia rules should be adopted to ensure the compliance of the investment with Sharia guidelines. Furthermore, it is desirable for Sharia boards to adopt corporate governance practice and take proactive roles, especially in Muslim countries, in order to influence companies to adopt Sharia-compliant investment practices. The tolerance levels of conventional finance activities of companies in Muslim countries should be re-evaluated and lowered in the Islamic investment screening criteria. This is partly due to the popularity and wide availability of Islamic banking and alternative Sharia instruments to interest-based finance, coupled with the fact that Muslim shareholders form the majority and hence, can vote to influence companies to adopt Sharia-compliant financing modes. In addition, the study provides empirical evidence that the Sharia screening process does not seem to have an adverse impact on either the absolute or the risk-adjusted performance of Islamic equity mutual funds in Saudi Arabia, compared to their conventional counterpart equity mutual funds and also compared to their market benchmarks. This is regardless of the geographical investment focus subgroup examined and the market benchmark used (whether Islamic or conventional). Furthermore, the systematic risk analysis shows that in most cases Islamic equity mutual funds in Saudi Arabia tend to be significantly less exposed to market risk compared to their conventional counterpart equity mutual funds, and compared to their conventional market benchmarks. Thus, the assumption that Sharia investment constraints lead to inferior performance and riskier investment portfolios because of the relatively limited investment universe seems to be rejected. This implies that Muslim investors in Saudi Arabia can choose Islamic investments that are consistent with their beliefs without being forced to either sacrifice performance or expose themselves to higher risk. The investment style analysis also shows that the Sharia screening process does not seem to influence Islamic equity mutual funds in Saudi Arabia towards small or growth companies compared to their conventional counterparts of similar geographical investment focus. Moreover, the study provides empirical evidence that the performance difference between Islamic and conventional socially responsible indices is insignificant despite applying different sets of screening criteria. However, Islamic indices tend to be associated with relatively lower systematic risk compared to their conventional socially responsible counterparts. Therefore, Islamic investment portfolios can be marketed to socially responsible investors who share similar beliefs in terms of excluding certain industries such as tobacco, alcohol, pornography, defense, etc., in spite of no financial filters being used by conventional socially responsible investors. This finding is especially appealing in Muslim countries where there are usually no mutual funds categorized as socially responsible, but rather Islamic. Moreover, the study also provides empirical evidence that incorporating conventional sustainability criteria into the traditional Sharia screening process does not lead to inferior performance or higher exposure to systematic risk. The results indicate that regardless of the restriction used - whether Islamic, socially responsible or Islamic socially responsible - restricted investment portfolios do not seem to be associated with inferior performance or higher exposure to risk. This finding opens the door for Sharia scholars and Muslim investors to reconsider broader social and environmental aspects as part of the Sharia investment screening process. With regards to investment style, Islamic and Islamic socially responsible indices seem to be skewed towards growth cap as compared to their conventional and conventional socially responsible indices, while Islamic socially responsible also leans towards a large cap. This implies that despite the performance similarity between, Islamic, conventional and conventional socially responsible indices, the returns driver of each type of investment tends to be different.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.694843  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Islamic Investment Portfolios ; Saudi Mutual Funds ; Socially Responsible Investment
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