Dr Abdulla Rashid Shafeea, the Managing Director of The Investor for Securities Company, has a visionary approach to investment and emphasises on creative thinking and climate-resilient growth
Bahrain-born but made in Saudi Arabia, Dr Abdulla Rashid Shafeea is in an expansive mood as he discusses the success of The Investor for Securities Company from his busy offices in King Fahad Road.
Overlooking the bustling Riyadh cityscape and the King Fahad Expressway,
Dr Shafeea outlines the investment strategies of the company which is acknowledged as an investment powerhouse by its competitors and the regional and international banking and financial sector.
Dr Shafeea is very much a leader by example with a visionary approach to delivering enhanced growth and plans for expansion with the company aligned with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. With more than SR13 billion ($3.47 billion) of The Investor for Securities’ portfolio under Shari’ah-compliant investment across a range of financial instruments,
Dr Shafeea and his expert teams have great responsibilities in managing the assets of the company’s high net-worth individual and corporate investors.
He emphasises the importance of creative thinking in the specialist world of investment banking within the context of medium to low risk investment strategies and wealth protection.
“Our stated vision in The Investor for Securities is to be a pioneering Islamic investment bank which provides creative investment solutions and superior financial services,” he says.
“Saudi Arabia is the heartland of the region’s economic future and to be here at this time in its history is energising.
“We are heavily investing in real estate but are also looking proactively at creative and innovative solutions for enhancing our fund incomes too. For example, we are looking at investments in commodities including gold, aluminium, copper, iron and steel to widen our investment portfolio.”
The creation of a gold brokerage in Switzerland is under active consideration by the company at the present time. “We are also looking at agricultural and agribusiness investments in wheat and corn. Essentially, our company is deeply creative in its thinking in how best to deliver the investment returns to our individual and corporate investors. There is also a shift towards sustainable development and that investment sentiment is evident in renewables and green technologies and will inevitably become part of the investment capital radar,” he adds.
Dr Shafeea is very much a man of detail with a ‘hands-on’ approach and impressively organised and focused, with an uncanny ability to multi-task across his wide managerial responsibilities. He steadfastly maintains an open-door approach in his busy office environment with his key financial and research staff, and product development and risk management teams all able to discuss with him issues and strategies at any time.
Intensive activity is the norm with long working days to meet the high-performance strategies required by the company to manage the various funds as a leading Sharia-compliant investment bank with substantial funds under its responsibility.
Although Dr Shafeea sets the energetic corporate culture and is very much the leader with his finger on the pulse of the organisation, it’s a people-orientated organisation with his teams thriving and busily discharging their investment expertise.
One moment he is discussing the creative approach and company strategy for gold futures and the next moment he is convening a meeting to examine the procurement options and equipment supply for the new corporate offices now under construction 300 metres south of existing headquarters.
The Investor for Securities is considered one of Saudi Arabia’s leading investment banks and licensed by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to provide a range of investment services including dealing, managing, custody arranging and advisory.
Essentially, the company is a collection of individual Saudi and Kuwaiti high net-worth investors combining to create a declared capital of SR400 million. The Investor for Securities was formally established in 2007 and from the outset could draw from its partners combined financial experience in real estate funds since 1992.
Today, The Investor has a reputation for bringing the best and brightest qualified banking, finance and investment talent into the company with a cutting-edge approach to research, information technology and fund management and where creative thinking is prized.
Dr Shafeea has extensive experience as a businessman, real estate developer, entrepreneur and investment banker that builds upon his early career as a qualified commercial airline pilot.
As a high-performing student of science and technology in Bahrain, Dr Shafeea’s fast-track career started at the British Aerospace College in Scotland where he excelled and was awarded an honours degree in aeronautical sciences in the early 1990s. This academic and practical expertise led to his high-flying career as a professional commercial pilot with Gulf Air from 1993 to 1997.
Always interested in business and finance, Dr Shafeea decided to switch from aviation and studied for a degree in banking and finance in the UK followed by a Masters in Business Administration at the University of South Wales. Further academic studies include a Masters degree in finance from DePaul University in Chicago. More recently, Dr Shafeea received his doctorate and D Phil in economics from Zurich, Switzerland, to add to his formidable academic achievements.
Dr Shafeea joined the United Nations Development Programme in 2000 with his career development in banking and finance quickly taking off and accelerating.
He worked on several real estate projects, investment companies and government agencies promoting business and investment and these developments in Bahrain which eventually led to him join the Arab National Bank’s investment arm in 2008. A four-year stint followed as head of international portfolios, real estate funds and product development.
He then joined Al Baraka Banking Group and the Itqan Capital division as head of investment fund management. Two years later he was head of equity at Alistithmar Capital.
Dr Shafeea then accepted the position as the head of asset management at The Investor in 2015. During this period, he delivered a paper entitled ‘Commodities markets in developing societies’ at the World Islamic Banking Conference in 2015.
He was promoted to managing director in 2017, the same year that the company was named Best Asset Management Company. Its Khedma real estate fund received the top accolades as the best creative Shari’ah Finance Fund. Dr Shafeea received these awards for excellence and leadership at an international ceremony held in Dubai in October 2017.
“Our company was successful in launching its first Shari’ah-compliant investment products, Al-Hurr Saudi equity funds and The Investor Murabaha fund as distinctive products due their purpose, benefits and investment returns. Al-Hurr aims to achieve capital growth over the long term by investing in shares listed in the Tadawul, the Saudi stock market. The low-risk Murahaba was established in 2009 and is a public open-ended mutual investment fund,” he says.
“In turn, these funds have become the cornerstone for pioneering financial products and services covering the Saudi and GCC markets for fixed income services and only the Saudi market for equity and other services. We were the first to launch real estate income-generating funds.
“In terms of asset management, we aim to be the leader and at the cutting edge in providing a range of investment solutions managed through a specialised asset management team. Our research and analysis extend well beyond conventional analysis and is very sophisticated as are our investors.
“We cooperate with sister investment companies across the world looking at opportunities in the context of Shari’ah-compliant fund management,” he continues.
Dr Shafeea has strong views on developing and extending the Shari’ah-compliant portfolio.
“Often, Shari’ah compliance is perceived as an obstacle rather than an opportunity and The Investor champions such emerging opportunities not only in Saudi Arabia but globally. We took the lead with Prudential in the US, adopting our Shari’ah-compliant fund management.”
The award-winning Khedma Investor real estate fund is cited by Dr Shafeea as a strong example of the evolution of the investment fund market.
“Achieving a regular income and protecting capital whilst developing the wider economy is very important. It is an exciting time to be developing these funds in Saudi Arabia in this emerging sector and sharing risk,” he says.
“Saudi Arabia is a G-20 economy and our company is shoulder-to-shoulder with the various regulatory authorities,” he adds.
He also acknowledged the powerful IT and communications sector in Saudi Arabia that is enabling economic growth and development.
“Here in the Kingdom, we have long embraced smart technologies with investment in highly sophisticated IT systems as well as our smart phones. There is no need to go to the bank or to the municipality as citizens have personalised and secure digital systems at their disposal. Eventually, I can see the emergence of a Silicon Valley approach to economic development in Saudi Arabia, such is the level of our smart technology investment,” he continues.
This digital future is implicit with The Investor Digital City Real Estate Fund as one of the largest real estate funds ever launched in Saudi Arabia. The vision is to develop prime land in the heart of Riyadh into a smart city of the future.
Dr Shafeea is work-driven and admits that he has taken no proper holiday for three years as work, continuous study and a busy schedule is the norm.
For relaxation, he immerses himself in his books and is a wide and eclectic reader. These writings currently include ‘Why Nations Fail’ by Daron Acemoglu from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and British political scientist James A Robinson. Dr Shafeea is also an avid reader of Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th century German philosopher, and Bertrand Russell, the British logician.
In his 2016 article, ‘The Age of Anthropocene’, Dr Shafeea discussed the shift to sustainable development and changing investment sentiments and the importance of climate-resilient growth.
“There are four pillars of national actualisation, as I like to call them, the economics, social, governance and the environmental aspects of nations. As an alert responsible investor, obviously this sentiment opens doors wide for investment trends to shift towards green and renewable energies in the future,” Dr Shafeea concludes.
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