View more on these topics

Habib Akudi

Lives: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
Born: 1972, Dewsbury.
Education: Degree in economics, University of Greenwich.
Career: 1994 – clinical auditor, Leeds NHS, 1995 – telesales, 1997- travelled extensively before joining Parsoli.
Career ambition: To become the leading provider of Islamic financial services.
Personal ambition: To take the company to being fully international.
Likes: Playing football, Manchester United.
Dislikes: Bad manners.
Peers say: “Keeps cool-headed in a crisis and takes very good care of customers.”
Drives: Audi A6.

For many Muslims, the West Yorkshire mill town of Dewsbury is one of the most spiritually vibrant places in the world today. The town is known to Muslims globally as the home of the Tabligh, a flourishing revivalist movement.
“It is our claim to fame. All over the world, people know about Dewsbury when they might not have heard of any other town in the UK,” says Habib Akudi, a director of Dewsbury-based company Parsoli UK, which is planning to corner arguably the fastest-growing mass-affluent market in the UK, its two million Muslim population.
If readers think they recognise Akudi, it is because he has been interviewed by the likes of Sky and Bloomberg on what many see as one of the biggest opportunities in the UK financial services market. “I also always find myself being photographed at Muslim financial conferences. That is often because I am the only delegate they can find who looks typically Muslim,” he laughs.
Parsoli has been making waves recently by launching what is believed to be the first pension plan which complies with Islamic law. It says the Islamic self-invested personal pension’ investment strategy meets with stringent criteria set out in the Koran and Islamic law, which forbids investment in fixed-interest securities and in areas such as gambling and alcohol.
It is argued that every British Muslim investing in a pension plan has until now been forced to compromise their beliefs, as even most ethical funds do not comply with the strict standards.
Demographic evidence suggests the market for Muslim-designed investment products is one of the fast growing in the entire financial services sector. This section of the population is enjoying fast population growth as well as boasting an increasingly high concentration of high-net-worth individuals.
Habib also says emerging generations of British Muslims feel less pressured to send money “back home” to their previous generations’ countries of origin. So younger Muslims have more cash to invest in financial services products in this country.
Akudi says some Muslims have been willing to invest in ethical funds but these include unacceptable ratios of fixed-interest securities. He says more British Muslims want to put down their roots and that economic integration is the last but arguably the most important element of feeling truly settled and part of the UK.
The conflict between strict principles and investment is something that Akudi has had to face in his own life.
In many ways, Akudi is a typical Dewsbury boy. Born in 1972, the son of a mill worker, he lives in the town with his wife and three children. What set him apart from his contemporaries was an early fascination with the yuppie lifestyle of the 1980s.
“As a teenager growing up in the 1980s, I suppose I was a product of the Thatcher years. There was a lot of inspiration in the glamour of the City,” he says.

At first, the teenager’ religious principles were sidelined by his desire to get a piece of the action. “I just really wanted to get into the culture. I was not really concerned about Islamic principles. But as I grew up, my Islamic principles came to the fore and I had problems reworking Islamic beliefs into the idea of a City job. I would always be compromising my beliefs,” he says.
In 1994, having followed the bright lights to London, he graduated in economics from the University of Greenwich. He then worked as a clinical auditor for the National Health Service in Leeds, which involved reviewing the practices of doctors and nurses. This was followed by a spell in telesales.
But after meeting with Zafar Sareshwala, the director of what was then the burgeoning Parsoli in India, at a conference in 1996, a correspondence was established. A year later, this would lead Akudi to securing his dream job at Parsoli, reconciling his Islamic principles with a role in finance.
While Parsoli works closely with a number of high-street banking brands, they have been noticeably reticent in associating themselves publicly with the company since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.
“Since September, there has been an increasing recognition of the Muslim community and a realisation that the value system is different but that there is also a desire to integrate. No one wants to be branded as a Muslim bank in the market since September 11.”
But Akudi says IFAs have given the company a great deal of support. “IFAs have been brilliant. They can see a huge Muslim market but they cannot tap into its potential. The first thing an IFA might try and talk about is guaranteeing their life, which is totally contrary to Islam.”
It is for these reasons that Parsoli invests in providing IFAs with training packs. It is also planning to run a series of roadshows and seminars in the near future and intends to expand its product range for both the UK and international markets. IFAs can expect to see an increasingly visible Parsoli brand, enabling them to better meet the needs of Muslims nationwide.

Recommended

Bankhall owner Lynx in talks on takeover

Lynx, owner of the UK&#39s second-biggest IFA grouping, Bankhall, has confirmed that it is in talks with a possible buyer.The company, which is valued at £178m, confirmed last week that it had entered into exclusive discussions which may lead to its sale at 120p per share.Speculation is now rife about possible suitors for the company, […]

DWP looks at NIC rise for the self-employed

The Department for Work and Pensions is understood to be considering a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.The proposals are expected to follow the publication of a report by the influential Pensions Provision Group, the independent body which generates discussion papers and policy proposals for UK pension reform.The report will set out a […]

40 per cent tax flaws pension credits

The Government has confirmed it will effectively levy a 40 per cent tax on the modest savings of pensioners in its pre-budget statement on pension credits.The move comes inspite of fierce criticism by the pensions industry of the top-up payments which will be introduced in 2003, costing the Government £2bn in the first year of […]

Swiss Life appoints new risk head

Swiss Life has appointed Chris McFarlane as its new head of risk and product management. McFarlane will be responsible for the underwriting claims, product management and actuarial functions with the provider&#39s employee benefits division.McFarlane has joined from Unum where he was marketing development manager. Prior to that he was previously with Barclays Life and Sun […]

Artemis Global Income: Making sense of global markets

The rally in cyclical ‘value’ stocks paused for breath in February, as investors took a more cautious tone and switched their attention back to defensive areas. In this article, Jacob de Tusch-Lec, manager of the Artemis Global Income Fund, explains how he has positioned the portfolio, given the many economic, geopolitical and policy risks that […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Very bad ambition akudi, wts urs chor company parsoli.

Leave a comment

Close

Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm

Email: customerservices@moneymarketing.com