Islamic robo-adviser eyes expansion in Gulf, Southeast Asia by 2019

Photo: Wahed Invest's Facebook page

New York-based Wahed Invest plans to offer its automated investment service in the Middle East and Southeast Asia by early next year, after the robo-adviser closed its latest round of fund raising, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The sharia-compliant firm made its international foray in August, launching its services in Britain, aiming to tap into Muslim investors seeking religiously permissible investments.

The firm is now working with the financial regulator in Malaysia and anticipates a three-month timeline for a launch in the Muslim-majority country, said Chief Executive Junaid Wahedna.

“We are also specifically working on registering in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, and hope to have them all live by March 2019.”

The firm has raised $8 million in capital this year, giving the company a valuation of $100 million, he added.

The firm is backed by Gulf investors and venture firms including Boston-based Cue Ball Capital and Dubai-based BECO Capital.

Robo-advisers automatically create and manage portfolios made up of exchange-traded funds for customers with as little as a few hundred dollars to invest.

The market was initially developed by startups such as Wealthfront and Betterment, but a growing number of entrants has put pressure on them to diversify their offerings.

Wahed has seen healthy growth in Britain with client adoption rates that are twice as high as in the United States, where it now has over 5,000 registered clients.

The company estimates that by March next year it could be adding 500 clients per day across its geographies, Wahedna said.

Last month, the firm launched two index-tracking funds which follow indices that are screened by Standard & Poor’s.

Islamic financial products follow religious principles such as bans on investing in gambling and tobacco, in much the same way as socially responsible funds.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.