ESG & Sustainability

Scotland Hosts Ethical Finance Summit

Earlier this month, Scotland hosted the Ethical Finance Summit organised by the Global
Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) which organises and coordinates a series of
programmes promoting finance for positive change and bringing together leaders in
Islamic and conventional finance from around the world.

The summit aimed to “help define and shape the transition to a sustainable financial
system where finance delivers positive change”. With the Bank of England recognising
climate change as a key financial risk and growing recognition of sustainable investment
and finance, both conventional and Islamic finance practitioners have started to pay
attention to not only the economic returns but the social impact of their investment and
finance decisions.

Key partners of the summit included the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), the Scottish Government and the Bank of Scotland. Hosted in the capital of
Scotland, Edinburgh, the summit attracted over 400 finance practitioners from across
the globe discussing a range of topics including ethical investing, Islamic finance,
impact and sustainable finance.

Keynote speaker at the event, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, who took the
summit as an opportunity to introduce the ‘Green Investment Portfolio’, a new
investment programme, estimated to be worth £3 billion over a three-year period
providing capital to local authorities and third sector organisation committed developing
projects to help the country achieve a net-zero economy by 2045.

The First Minister stating, “The Green Investment Portfolio supports our ethical finance
ambitions by matching projects which are reducing emissions with investors so we can
fully maximize their potential and promote them globally.

This could include projects that are making buildings more energy efficient, reducing
industrial emissions or even restoring peatlands.”

Scotland’s ambitious Green Investment Portfolio is aligned with the UK’s commitment
to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and it was only May of this year the UK
parliament declared a climate change emergency.’ Expect green investment strategies
including green bonds and sukuk to get more attention in the coming months.

Courage, Compassion and Confidence

So proud of the Know You More team and founders Tim Mart and Chirag Mehta for winning The Scottish Herald Digital Business Awards in the Social Enterprise category. Having won the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) International Award for Coaching last year, it was great to see Know You More being recognised on home turf.

With years of effort and dedication in developing a digital platform that seamlessly delivers executive-level coaching to organisations in the simplest, most cost-effective way, Know You More is redefining how coaching should be delivered. Thank you to all our partners, coaches and of course our clients that entrust us with helping their people improve mental wellbeing, accelerate leadership development and support career transition.

Special thanks to Evelyn Walker our Strategic Board Adviser who has been a true champion of our vision to create a future in which people have the courage, compassion and confidence to be their best self and inspire others around them.

Congrats to all the finalists and winners at The Scottish Herald Digital Business Awards


Edinburgh, 29 October 2019

Know You More (“Know You More”), U.K.’s emerging leader in executive-level coaching at scale was awarded the Scottish Herald Digital Business Awards in the Charity and Social Enterprise category on Oct 23rd, 2019 at a ceremony in Glasgow, Scotland.

With a vision to create a future in which people have the courage, compassion and confidence to be their best self and inspire others around them, Know You More has been providing virtual coaching since 2016 helping people develop the essential skills and behaviours to improve leadership, mental wellness, and support career transition.

Tim Mart, CEO and Co-founder of Know You More, said: “We’ve had an opportunity to work with great organisations such as the NHS, St. Andrews University, Siemens recently to help create responsible leaders of today and tomorrow. The award is wonderful recognition for all the hard work of the team and my Co-founder Chirag Mehta over the past four years. Having won the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) 2018 International Award for Coaching last year, it’s great to get the local recognition for our efforts and a testament to the amazing community of qualified coaches we have on the platform.”

Suhail Ahmad, Executive Chairman of Know You More, said “Congratulations to all the winners and finalists of the Herald Scotland 2019 Digital Business Awards. It was an outstanding group of trailblazing businesses and organisations across Scotland. We were honoured to take home an award this year and will continue to contribute to digital excellence in Scotland and beyond.”

The awards event was attended by business leaders from across Scotland reflecting the range of organisations from social enterprise to corporates who were recognised for their digital work. The Digital Transformation Director of Newsquest Scotland, organisers of the event welcomed the attendees saying, “We social responsibility we have to society and to ourselves, to make our work inclusive and a force for good is surely of critical importance more than ever before.”

Other Digital Business Award winners across several categories included PODFather, Intelligent Mobile, DYW Glasgow, Blue2Digital clients Simon Howie and The Scottish Butcher, Enterprise Screen for The Power of Attorney campaign, After Digital for Chase Distillery, Storm ID (several awards), Neu, Barry Feam, Jenn Hood and Brian Corcoran.

Know You More is a company based in Scotland, delivering the simplest way for organisations to provide their people with executive-level coaching at scale. It’s on a mission to create thriving cultures within organisations and communities by combining the power of real human conversation with innovative technologies. With clients in the U.K. and abroad spanning both the corporate and public sector, including National Health Service (NHS), Siemens, Novartis, Ocado, St. Andrews University and many more.

Suhail Ahmad, MBA – Executive Chairman
+44 131 208 2786

Edinburgh Hosts GEF Forum 2015

“I am at peace. If you see graft and don’t speak out against it, you are part of the system that enables it. I was unable to let it continue to happen and weigh on my conscience.” stated HRH Muhammad Sanusi II, Emir of Kanoand former Central Bank Governor of Nigeria in an extraordinary live on-stage interview at the end of the Global Ethical Finance Forum held last week at the prestigious Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The interview with the Emir of Kano was the perfect culmination for the two-day forum which gathered 300 delegates from across the ethical finance industry including Islamic Finance, Socially Responsible and Impact investing. The delegates included industry leaders, academics, students, and financial service participants from across the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, Europe and North America.

The candid and informal interview with the Emir of Kano describing his own personal experience as the former central bank governor of Nigeria during the credit crisis of 2008. His experience and advice for Islamic bankers was to install safeguards to eliminate corruption and to hold accountable individuals for their irresponsible actions. He feared that we were heading towards another global financial crisis as many of the issues from the previous banking crisis remained unresolved.

The Emir further clarified that ethical finance to fully be a leading part of the future of global finance; it must not only incorporate Islamic finance and other faith groups but also provide a real value proposition that puts the customers and depositors ahead of the equity stakeholders. A key issue in the current financial system as current banking and financial regulations favoured the equity holders of the bank which typically account for only 10% of the assets at the expense of the customers (deposit holders) that have contributed the remaining 90% of the bank’s assets.

The Emir also highlighted an underlying holistic issue for conventional banking which is also shared by most Islamic banks; failure to contribute to the good of the society with emphasis on fairness and social justice.

Almost certainly most of the delegates at forum shared the views of the Emir and even Keith Brown MSP, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment & Cities in his opening remarks stated, “Creating a fairer society is not just a good on its own, it is also essential for long-term prosperity.”

The renowned Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, the leading voice of emerging markets stressed the need for sustainable economic development saying: “The value of financial intermediation includes mobilize savings, promoting the efficient allocation of resource, reducing informational asymmetry, and manage risks. Emerging markets have benefited from transformative role of finance in the development of emerging markets in the 21st century.”

So indeed the forum provided a great platform for discussion between Islamic finance and conventional finance on a unified platform of “ethical” finance. Panel discussions included investment screening processes, green bonds and sukuks, regulation, technology and the summary of the newly released Responsible Finance Report produced by Thomson Reuters and the Responsible Finance Institute. The forum reaffirmed the similarities between ethical and Islamic finance but also brought to light a key issue for Islamic financial institutions that is often overlooked; is it possible for a product to be “Shariah Complaint” and not ethical?

The answer is yes. One panel discussion highlighted this very issue and discussed ways to incorporate ethical guidelines in Islamic finance products to make the product not just be Shariah compliant on the surface but Islamic to the core.

A simple example helped delegates understand the issue at hand. A clothing manufacturer with no debt and meeting other generally accepted Shariah screening metrics which typically are financial ratios and business or product being of a halal nature would pass as being a Shariah compliant investment. However, the company is using suppliers in Thailand which are employing child labour or have exploitive employment practices. Shariah screening would fail to capture this issue which is clearly against Islamic or Shariah principles.

Socially responsible investing employing Environmental, Social, and Governance screening would be able to capture the issue of child labour as it would extend its screening beyond the surface of the company to look at the supply chain and practices of the company.

Shariah screening in most cases would fail to capture unethical practices of any business and would wrongly pass off businesses as being Shariah compliant despite their un-Islamic business practices. Panellists suggested Shariah scholars be given a broader mandate which would include assessment of the business operations. Perhaps even having Shariah scholars sit on the boards of financial institutions or companies so they can see that board and management decisions are being made in an ethical responsible manner.

Then we would surely solidify ethical and Islamic finance by ensuring that every Islamic finance product is truly ethical meeting the requirements of responsible Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Article by Suhail Ahmad, published in the Islamic Finance News – Sep. 09, 2015