Investing during a lockdown

In the media, Viewpoint

While of course everyone’s first concern and priority is beating COVID-19, the now almost universal lockdown to achieve this is changing established protocols among Islamic investors.

While some are in a ‘wait and see’ mode, for a great number of Islamic investors the attractions of stable income generated from real estate look attractive against the backdrop of volatility elsewhere, albeit with caution not to overpay in the process. So, we need to find new ways to work together without the freedom to travel.

Within 90 North, as we are of course all working from home, we have made a concerted effort to maintain contact with each other, including a midday dial-in video conference call to catch up with each other and the day’s events. While I witnessed first-hand the less well-publicised rush to buy webcams, this has delivered the important team interaction that we all need. Ironically, we are probably communicating with each other more effectively than we were in the office!

And so it has been with external communication as well. Unable to travel to London to meet the team, let alone visit developers in the US or investors in the Middle East, we have been using video conferencing to connect with each other, with great success. As we look for the pluses to come out of this pandemic, the positive environmental impact from less business travel may well be a lasting legacy.

But real estate is all about the bricks and mortar, investors want to inspect before they commit. And so we have found technology come to the rescue again.

We’d already made use of drone footage to provide international investors a bird’s-eye perspective on a property that cannot be achieved by even being there at street level, but working recently with a Southeast Asian investor we took this further. The film production continued with an inspection of the area at ground level and an internal tour of the property as well.

So, while we are all craving a return to the freedom we had before, I honestly believe that there will be positives to come out of this for the Islamic investment community and beyond.

Our hopes and prayers go out to those who are suffering, and to the medical teams fighting for every life.

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news dated 15th April.