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Perspective of corporate governance and ethical issues with profit sharing investment accounts in Islamic banks

Alhammadi, S., Archer, S., Padgett, C. and Abdel Karim, R. A. (2018) Perspective of corporate governance and ethical issues with profit sharing investment accounts in Islamic banks. Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, 26 (3). pp. 406-424. ISSN 1358-1988

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/jfrc-01-2017-0014


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the practices of Islamic banks in managing the so-called profit sharing investment accounts (PSIA) which they offer as a Shari’ah-compliant alternative to interest-bearing deposit accounts using an unrestricted Mudarabah contract. In particular, the paper aims to examine the risk-return characteristics of such accounts and to compare these to the returns and risks of shareholders in the same banks. It is relevant that PSIA holders (unrestricted investment account holders – UIAH) are exposed to losses on the assets in which their deposits are invested, while the bank as asset manager (Mudarib) does not bear these losses and as Mudarib typically receives more than 50 per cent of the profits earned on the PSIA. The issue is whether the UIAH are being treated equitably. The influence of a set of corporate governance variables on this issue was also analyzed. Design/methodology/approach A sample of 28 Islamic banks was selected from five countries for the period 2002-2013, with data being obtained from Bankscope and Bloomberg and, where necessary, from the banks’ annual reports. First, the risk-return characteristics of the UIAHs’ rates of return and shareholders’ rates of return on equity (ROE) were compared by calculating for each bank the coefficients of variation (CV) of the two series of rates of return. Second, a panel data approach was used to evaluate the effectiveness of corporate governance by examining the extent to which the size of the difference between the rates of return for shareholders and for UIAH was associated with a set of corporate governance variables. Third, a comparison was made between the risk-return characteristics of UIAH’s rates of return and shareholders’ dividend yield rate for a sub-sample of 20 banks for which the information was available. Findings For a significant proportion of the banks (9 out of 28), the CVs of the PSIA returns were higher than those of the shareholders’ ROEs, which suggested that in these cases the PSIA holders were receiving inequitable treatment. Likewise, for 7 out of the 20 banks in the sub-sample, the CVs of the PSIA holders’ rates of return were higher than those of the shareholders’ dividend yield rate. In explaining the size of the differences between the rates of return on PSIA and the shareholders’ ROEs, the variable with the greatest explanatory power was the return on assets, implying that when this was high the bank took a maximum Mudarib share of profits. Some other corporate governance variables had the expected signs, as did a country dummy representing the maturity of the market for Islamic banking, but there was little evidence of the effectiveness of corporate governance in protecting the interests of the UIAH. Research limitations/implications A limitation of the research was that the inefficiency of the stock markets in the relevant countries and the fact that a few of the banks were not listed made it impossible to use shareholders’ stock market returns. ROE is not a very good proxy, as it is unclear how much value should be placed on retained earnings. Dividend yield rates provide a better comparison with UIAH rates of return, but the data were available for only 20 of the banks. Nevertheless, the results of the analysis strongly suggest that in a significant proportion of cases, UIAH are not being treated equitably. Practical implications The implication is that the regulation of Islamic banks needs to be improved to provide better protection to UIAH. Social implications Islamic banks operate mainly in emerging markets where the effectiveness of regulation is limited. The ethical basis of Islamic finance provides some mitigation of this problem but apparently fails to do so in a significant proportion of cases. This should be borne in mind when assertions are made about the ethical basis of Islamic finance. Originality/value There is a dearth of empirical studies of the practices of Islamic banks and in particular of their treatment of their customers. This is because of various factors: the relative novelty of Islamic finance, the paucity of data and the relatively small size of the body of researchers in the field. This paper aims to contribute to filling this gap.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > ICMA Centre
ID Code:78845
Uncontrolled Keywords:Strategy and Management, Finance


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