Islamic finance providers need good old word of mouth more than ever
Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer at Gatehouse Bank | 14:37 Tuesday 6th August 2019 | 3
The UK’s 2.8 million Muslim consumers contribute £31bn to UK PLC and boast a spending power of £20.5bn, so the opportunity for Islamic finance is huge.
Yet research carried out by Gatehouse Bank has found that nearly half of Muslim consumers have never used sharia-compliant financial products.
Quite rightly this must be seen as a wake-up call for our industry to get better at highlighting the positives about the services we provide by investing in the right areas.
This investment, however, is not necessarily about advertising on television, radio, billboards or social media. It’s about harnessing the most powerful and oldest form of marketing: word of mouth.
This was one of the key findings of our recently published Islamic Finance Consumer Report. The study was the first of its kind, and that meant headline findings showing that 46% of Muslim consumers had never even used a sharia-compliant product were enough to make the whole industry sit up and take notice.
What is telling from our consumer report is that the impression people have of Islamic finance is much more positive among those who have actually used it. The research drew a clear divide between the reality experienced by the minority — our customers — and the preconceptions of the many who had never entered this market.
This shift in perception was backed up by the research: 85% of Islamic finance consumers thought that their experience exceeded expectations. But we’ve got to get people to the point of using Islamic finance before they find that out for themselves.
That mission is currently being held back by a lack of awareness and poor perception of Islamic finance among non-users.
It is one of our industry’s greatest hurdles. Our research shows that just over half of non-users know anything about Islamic finance, with little more than a third viewing it favourably. We must do better at shouting about our ethical offering and how we’ll never support sectors such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment and arms.
And if those are the symptoms, the diagnosis offered by the report is that the industry is held back by lack of word-of-mouth referrals because, as it turns out, Muslim consumers are very sensitive to what products their friends and family are using. In other words: we need word of mouth more than anything, because Muslim consumers greatly value each other’s opinions.
Friends, family and colleagues are the most common way to hear about Islamic finance (39%) but, significantly, they are also the most influential. Personal acquaintances triumph as the most valued source of information when compared with all other sources by a significant margin.
This is a clarion call for all of us involved in Islamic finance. The UK is the leading Islamic finance centre outside the Middle East and south-east Asia. We have great sharia-compliant products, but they aren’t winning as big a following as these competitive, culturally sensitive solutions deserve.
So, when the vast majority of people who become customers are known to finish up being unexpectedly delighted by their experience, the industry must smell opportunity. It is the customer that becomes its most promising source of new approaches.
We must seize these powerful stories by proactively encouraging consumers to communicate them.
If we are to reach people and succeed as champions of sharia-compliant products, it is our customers who must champion them first.
SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE MORE NEWS LIKE THIS STORY
Gravity selects Finastra to power banking and lending services
Gravity has selected Finastra’s Fusion Essence in the cloud solution for its end-to-end core banking capabilities...
An interview with Paul Stockwell: Islamic finance has ‘enormous opportunity’ for growth over coming years
In an interview with Specialist Banking, Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer at Gatehouse Bank (pictured above), discusses increasing awareness of Islamic finance and opportunities in the banking world...
Revolut for Business launches expense management tool
Revolut for Business has launched a new expense management tool designed to simplify the handling of expenses for growing businesses...
Leek United strengthens intermediary team
Leek United Building Society has strengthened its intermediary team with five new appointments...
BCR awards £10m to Atom bank
Atom bank has received a £10m grant as part of the Capability and Innovation Fund Pool C grants announced by the board of Banking Competition Remedies (BCR)...
Bank of Ireland UK updates broker portal
Bank of Ireland UK has revealed that it has relaunched its broker portal...
Unity Trust Bank increases lending by 47%
Unity Trust Bank has reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £4m in H1 2019, an increase of £1.2m compared with H1 2018...
Taxing times for SMEs
Small business owners are the most creative and resilient individuals I know...
Metro Bank to open first store in the Black Country
Metro Bank is set to open two stores on 20th and 21st September in Solihull and Merry Hill...
TMA Club adds Harpenden Building Society to lender panel
TMA Club has added Harpenden Building Society to its lender panel, giving its members access to the building society’s range of mortgage products...
N26 appoints chief banking officer
N26 has appointed Thomas Grosse (pictured above) as its new chief banking officer...