When he founded ShariaPortfolio in 2003, CEO Naushad Virji received many well-intentioned suggestions to choose a different name. Being in the United States, just a couple of years after 9/11, the wariness about the word "Sharia" was understandable. But Virji had no qualms about it. "Anyone who had an issue with the name wasn't a client that we're looking to serve," he says simply.
One of the biggest challenges in halal investing is mitigating risk. In conventional (non Shariah-compliant investing), investors use bonds or GICs (Guaranteed Income Certificates) to lower their risk and exposure to the stock market. However, since these investments are interest-based, they can't be part of a halal portfolio.
A halal portfolio needs to be composed of equities, or shared ownership in real assets, such as companies which produce goods and services. Since businesses may make profits as well as suffer losses, this is where the risk comes in. While the fates and fortunes of individual businesses may go up and down, most businesses still need to occupy some real estate. One way to mitigate risk and diversify a halal portfolio is to invest in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
In this time of global economic uncertainty, being an investor is stressful. If you have a halal portfolio, you may even feel the ups and downs of the stock market even more than conventional investors. This is because a Shariah compliant portfolio would exclude interest-based investments like GICs (Guaranteed Income Certificates) and bonds. These investments provide predictable incomes and don't change in value the same way stocks do. Without such fixed income investments to mitigate risk, investors with halal portfolios are particularly sensitive to stock market volatility.