What started as an idea has now allowed thousands of Australian Muslims and socially responsible Islamic finance investors to choose a superannuation fund that invests according to their values. We started thinking about a superannuation fund that was compliant with Islamic principles in 2007 and realised our goal in 2013. This was no easy feat because it was a challenge to launch a start up in an industry where we were competing with multi-billion dollar players. It was an even a greater challenge to establish a financial services brand where the external environment did not cater for an investment philosophy like that of Crescent Wealth. To add to this, we experienced many “Nos” and many “that cannot be done” throughout the journey but we persevered.
What did it take? Hard work, effort and a lot of passion to say the least. There was meeting after meeting, with board members, the Shariah advisory board, lawyers, the investment committee and the compliance committee. Additionally, a regulated superannuation fund must have a robust governance structure to ensure that the fund trustee acts in the members’ best interests. For this reason, there were plenty of reports and submissions to government regulators such as ATO1, APRA2, AUSTRAC3, ASIC4, FOS5 just to name a few.
In 2013, we finalised the product disclosure statement and launched the Crescent Wealth Super Fund at the Lebanese Muslim Association Hall and Crescent Wealth became the first APRA regulated Islamic super fund. We did not achieve this alone, a wealth of support came from Aon Hewitt, which provided a seed investment, Diversa Trustees, the previous trustee for the super fund and many other advisors. But, in truth, the community is currently and will always be, the greatest contributor to Crescent Wealth’s success.
Fast track to 2019, Crescent Wealth now has over 9,000 members and investors, well over 250 million dollars of funds under management. Our investment funds have been recognised as some of the best performing funds by Morningstar & Bloomberg. Also, the fund launch in Malaysia, KAF Australia Islamic Property fund, has allowed international investors to tap into the Australian market thereby boosting the level of investment opportunities for our members and investors locally.
Into the future, Crescent Wealth will be focussing on two key areas. These are the refinement of our investment strategies and the further enhancement of our customer service.
Often members feel that they have to compromise by being a member of a socially responsible fund. At Crescent Wealth, we understand that this is our member’s retirement savings and that generating solid returns via this investment philosophy is a fundamental part of our business. Current performance figures show that Crescent Wealth is just as competitive as other socially responsible funds and even many conventional funds. However, we are continuously revising and refining our current investment strategies to ensure that members are getting the best value and outcome for themselves and their families.
Another area of focus is to enhance our customer service and interaction. The success of a superannuation fund is not just determined by returns. We are also judged on member satisfaction. It’s interesting to note that superannuation funds do not always have a high standard of customer service, causing many Australians to be disengaged with their superannuation savings. We believe that this should not be the case and Crescent Wealth has acted accordingly, by being the first superannuation fund to implement the Net Promoter Score System that has already begun to help our Member Services Team to identity and address our members’ concerns.
We are greatly blessed to have seen Crescent Wealth come so far and to have the privilege to continue to strive in this mission – that is, to provide a vehicle to collectivise and improve wealth via Islamic Finance and to be a trusted and credible source of investment returns for generations to come, God Willing.
ATO: Australian Taxation Office
APRA: Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority
AUSTRAC: Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
ASIC: Australian Securities and Investments Commission
FOS: Financial Ombudsman Service
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Talal currently serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Whitlam Institute and Western Sydney University Foundation Council Board. He also serves as Chairman of First Quay Capital and Chairman of the Australian Arab Dialogue. Talal has also served on the Australia Post, Board of Sydney Ports, Macquarie University and the Western Sydney Area Health Service and the Chairman of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Council of Australia Arab Relations. In an executive capacity, Talal spent 10 years at PwC as a director and strategist, and at investment firm Babcock & Brown in the Corporate Finance Group and later in the Technical Real Estate Division. Later Talal held leadership positions in Better Place Australia, Platinum Hearing and Star Transport Australia.