November 20, 2018 / 6:24 AM / in a month

U.S. Islamic investment adviser aims to expand into Canada in 2019

(Reuters) - Florida-based Islamic wealth manager ShariaPortfolio Inc aims to expand into Canada next year, as the firm taps into a growing number of Muslim clients seeking to invest according to their religious beliefs, its chief executive told Reuters.

The plans by the independent investment adviser highlight how Islamic finance is gradually developing in some Western markets, beyond its core centers in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The 15-year old firm has clients across 26 states and it hopes to open a Vancouver office in the second quarter of next year to fuel growth, Chief Executive Officer Naushad Virji said.

The company has also started to offer institutional-level services, aiming to partner with conventional financial firms that want to add Islamic finance to their product offerings, Virji said.

“We are currently raising capital in Canada to launch our services and there are also banks in Canada that are interested, so we might launch institutional relationships as well.”

The company has received enquiries from financial firms in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, but in the short term the focus is on building its Canadian business, Virji added.

Islamic finance follows religious guidelines that exclude certain business sectors such as tobacco, alcohol and gambling as well as shunning excessive leverage.

Such an approach fits into the company’s value-investing methodology, focusing on well-capitalized stocks rather than debt-burdened ones, said Virji.

The firm now oversees over $85 million in assets under management, with services that include a robo-adviser and 401(k) retirement plans.

Reporting by Bernardo Vizcaino; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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