A short personal history
Why friends call me Amin
Why I wear a Union Jack lapel pin
Inclusion in published listings
Interviews and profile pieces
Islamic finance credentials
Corporate governance credentials
Some organisations I am involved with
Organisations I support without getting personally involved
Mohammed Amin has on several occasions been listed as one of the hundred most influential Muslims in the UK.
Amin graduated in mathematics from Clare College, Cambridge and obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Leeds University. After a year teaching, he trained as a chartered accountant, qualifying in 1977 after being placed fifth nationally in the PE1 examination out of over 4,000 candidates. In 1978 he qualified as a chartered tax advisor being awarded an examination distinction. In 1995 he became an associate member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. His Chartered Institute of Taxation fellowship thesis was awarded a medal for the best thesis submitted in 1999.
For 33 years Amin practiced as a tax advisor, most recently spending 19 years as a tax partner in Price Waterhouse, now PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He was the first Muslim to be admitted to the Price Waterhouse partnership in the UK. He specialised in international tax and the taxation of derivatives and foreign exchange, and for four years he led the firm’s UK finance and treasury tax network. Most recently before his retirement at the end of 2009, Amin was PwC’s head of Islamic finance in the UK and a member of PwC’s four person Global Islamic Finance Leadership Team. He has presented on Islamic finance around the world as well as advising the UK Government. From 2003 until he retired, Amin was an elected member of PwC’s 15 person Supervisory Board, responsible for overseeing the firm’s management and approving its accounts and all partnership admissions and withdrawals.
In retirement, as well as Islamic finance consulting and writing, Amin spends most of his time “giving back” to the community by writing, speaking, informal mentoring and active involvement in a number of organisations, some of which are listed below. This activity was recognised by his selection as the Clare College Alumnus of the Year 2014.
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My parents were both born in villages in Jullundur, India, during the British Empire, in very poor families. Neither of them was able to go to school, which was one of the greatest regrets of my father’s life.
My grandfather was killed accidentally when quite young, and as the eldest son my father Shadi Mehrban came to the UK for the first time in 1931. His first daughter was born after he left India, grew to the age of about 13 and died of an illness without my father ever seeing her. He worked as a door to door peddler and as a professional wrestler, and was here during World War 2. He was one of the people who founded the Manchester Central Mosque in Victoria Park, Manchester.
After Partition (the division of British India into the independent states of India and Pakistan), my father spent six months searching in refugee camps in Pakistan before he found my mother’s family. Another daughter was born, and then my father returned to the UK. A few months later, he received a letter that at long last he had a son, Mohammed Amin. He celebrated this news in the traditional way, by preparing a meal for friends, at the Victoria Park mosque in Manchester. The 20 or so guests included many students and academics from the university.
After the meal, they wanted to have a collection of money for the baby. My father refused and asked them instead to raise their hands for a dua (a supplication to God) that his son should become as educated as they were. My life has shown that Allah granted their wish.
While I was very small, my sister who was a year or so older than me caught an infection and died. Having lost two children while he was far from them, my father then wrote to my mother, telling her to bring me to Manchester. I arrived in Britain in July 1952, aged 1 ¾, and my earliest memory is of a tantrum at our house in Manchester, wanting to go home to my grandmother, my uncles and my pet baby goat.
In those early years, my mother hated Britain for its weather and alien people, and because she missed her own mother. She stayed here for only one reason, my education, and never saw her mother again as my grandmother died about a decade later. My parents made enormous sacrifices for me, which could never be repaid, but I did the one thing that I could which was to stay with them instead of pursuing a career far away in London or overseas, and they lived with me until they died.
Despite growing up financially poor, I have long been conscious of the many advantages I was blessed with, none of which I can claim any credit for:
My parents never asked for anything in return.
However I was conscious of my own duties as their only son, of which perhaps the most important was to live with them. Accordingly I never contemplated working overseas, or even in the UK away from Manchester. Instead I lived with them, until it was a case of them living with me, until each of them died.
While this did constrain my career opportunities a bit, I was fortunate that Manchester is a large city, and in my chosen profession I was able to have all the opportunity and scope I could have wished for while living in Manchester. I only bought my London flat much later in life when my parents were deceased and my children were grown up.
I am conscious how many of my values such as charitable giving are derived from my parents' example. My father's obituary mentions how he began the first fundraising for the Victoria Park Mosque. In 1987 when he read the Urdu translation of an appeal for a charity that I was helping to found in memory of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a boy stabbed to death in Burnage High School, Manchester, my father asked me to write out a cheque on his bank account for him to sign. It was the last cheque he ever signed, as he died shortly afterwards.
My parents always stressed that education was the route to a better life, and I was absorbed in books from the time I first learned to read. I passed the 11+ examination to attend a state grammar school where in 1968 I obtained 4 A levels, all at grade A.
From there, I went to Clare College, Cambridge, where I obtained a mathematics degree, class 3. (I had not worked very hard.) I then went to Leeds University, where I obtained a Graduate Certificate in Education with a distinction in the written work.
In 1977, I qualified as a chartered accountant, having been placed fifth in the country (out of about 4,200 candidates) in the Part 1 examination.
In 1978 I became an associate of the Institute of Taxation, with a distinction in the examination.
In 1995, at the age of 44, I did the examinations to become an associate member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.
In 1999, I became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation by submitting a fellowship thesis on “A detailed review of the new UK tax rules on corporate debt.” This thesis was awarded the Institute medal for the best fellowship thesis submitted in 1999.
After university, I spent one year teaching at a comprehensive school in Oldham. While there, I discovered accountancy, and trained as an accountant with a small firm in Ashton under Lyne and Hyde.
I left that firm upon qualifying as a chartered accountant and specialised in taxation, joining Arthur Andersen, then the largest accounting firm in the world, in their Manchester office. After three years, I was promoted to manager, and attended the Arthur Andersen new manager school in St Charles, Illinois, USA, which my first ever foreign trip and spent a few days visiting Washington DC as I have always admired American democracy. It was at Arthur Andersen that I first developed my interest in computer technology from a user's perspective, and had special responsibility for the use of micro-computers in the Manchester tax practice.
Three years later in 1984 I left Arthur Andersen to join a small firm in Wigan. I became a partner there after 18 months, but another 18 months later realised that I preferred large firms and joined Price Waterhouse as a senior manager in 1987.
I became a partner in 1990, and was the first Muslim partner in Price Waterhouse in the UK. At Price Waterhouse (PricewaterhouseCoopers or PwC since 1 July 1998) I had a number of specialisms and roles, including the following:
As mentioned above, I first developed an interest in computing from a user's perspective at Arthur Andersen, and maintained that at my small firm in Wigan. At PW starting in 1993 I led the team responsible for marketing the firm's PowerTax corporation tax return preparation software throughout the UK and was a member of PW's international network of tax technology specialists.
From around 1992 I specialised in the taxation of treasury transactions, which is the reason I joined the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT). In fact I was the first partner within the PW tax practice in the UK to take the ACT examinations, and afterwards encouraged many others to also become members.
From 2001-2005 I led PwC’s treasury taxation network in the UK.
I began writing a finance and treasury blog for PwC in 2005, which I understand was the first official blog from a PwC person anywhere in the world and the first from anyone in the Big 4 accounting firms in the UK.
I developed a specialist interest in this at my small firm in Wigan and continued it at PW. This led to my becoming a member of STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). I remained a member for a few years until my other specialisms meant that I was not longer sufficiently active in estate planning.
While stamp duty is generally regarded as an esoteric specialism, I developed an interest in the subject while at Arthur Andersen, and found stamp duty issues cropping up from time to time ever afterwards. Around 2002 I led the PwC stamp duty practice in the UK for about 18 months to cover a gap between more specialist leaders.
In 2003, I was elected by PwC’s partners to be a member of the Supervisory Board.
This is an elected committee of 15 partners which has the responsibility of seeing how well the firm’s management is running the firm, approving the firm’s accounts, approving the admission and retirement of partners etc. The Supervisory Board also conducts the election of the firm's Senior Partner, sets his compensation, monitors his performance on behalf of all partners and if necessary has the responsibility of dismissing him. Being elected by my partners to serve on the Supervisory Board demonstrates their trust in me to supervise the firm's management on their behalf.
Starting in 2005, I became an expert in the taxation of Islamic finance and then in Islamic finance more generally, being appointed as PwC’s UK Islamic finance leader in 2007 and part of PwC’s four person global Islamic finance leadership team.
On 31 December 2009 I retired from PwC.
I have been an avid follower of politics for virtually all my life. The earliest political memory I have is of Conservative Party posters from what must have been the general election of 1959. In 1960 I was aware of the US presidential election and despite being only 10 years old got up early to see if my hero John F. Kennedy had succeeded in beating Richard Nixon.
When I was 14, I stayed up all night to watch the results of the British general election, as well as the American presidential election, and still remember Harold Wilson's phrase "the white heat of the technological revolution." It was natural for me to support the Labour Party; my father did so, I was conscious that we were poor and working class and also because Harold Wilson was so much more charismatic than Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
At Cambridge I naturally joined the Cambridge University Labour Club. However I also joined the Cambridge University Conservative Association because some of my close friends were Conservatives and because the Conservative Association had more interesting meetings with better food! I remained a Labour supporter during the 1970s and was devastated when Margaret Thatcher won in 1979.
My first engagement with active politics came a year or two later when I joined the Liberal Party and became a deliverer of leaflets. I stood as a "paper candidate" (one who is on the ballot paper but with no party resources devoted to campaigning) for the local council. Despite my only being a paper candidate, my wife and I delivered one leaflet to the entire ward but without any success of course!
Around 1983 I realised that although I fraternised well with my local fellow Liberals, when it came to any discussions of policy I tended to disagree with them and instead to agree with the Government. In particular, I had been influenced by Milton Friedman's television series "Free to choose" which is now freely available on the internet at the link, and then by reading the book of the same title. Accordingly one day I shocked them by resigning from the Liberal Party and joining the Conservative Party.
I attended my first Conservative Party conference in Brighton in 1984. That was the conference the IRA bombed; fortunately my hotel was many miles away. I can still feel the grim, totally determined atmosphere of the conference on the Friday, as all of us were utterly resolved to carry on despite the IRA. The final phrase of Margaret Thatcher's speech still rings in my ears "Democracy will prevail."
After I joined Price Waterhouse in 1987 I became too busy professionally for active politics and did not attend the party conference again until 2008. However, in the summer of 2006 a personal friend introduced me to Lord Sheikh and the Conservative Muslim Forum. Since then I have been active in the CMF and currently serve as the Chairman.
It has always been my nature to get involved and help. Some of my various roles within PwC have been mentioned above. The list of organisations that I am involved with gives the current position; below is a retrospective.
I joined our school chess club when I was 16, and almost immediately became the boy who helped the relevant teacher to run the club, acting as the captain of the school chess team. At Cambridge and Leeds I played the Japanese board game of go, and helped to run the go club in both universities.
In Manchester, I had joined a chess club, and quickly became involved in helping to run it including becoming club president. Our club was part of the Manchester & District Chess Association , and I was elected onto the MDCA Council, serving in various capacities, including being the MDCA president for two years from 1980-1982. After the metropolitan counties were created in the early 1970's, I was one of the five people who set out the Greater Manchester County Chess Association. The MDCA was a constituent unit of the British Chess Federation so I attended BCF Management Board meetings. In 1985 I was asked to become unpaid finance director of the BCF, which I did for five years including the year that the BCF staged the world chess championship in London. I continued to serve on the Council of the MDCA as a past president, and was instrumental in steering through its merger with the GMCCA to form the Manchester Chess Federation. Later on I became the MCF's delegate to the English Chess Federation. I finally resigned from my chess roles in April 2014 to concentrate on my other activities.
Professionally, after joining the Institute of Taxation I got involved with the branch, serving as treasurer, then secretary and then branch chairman. Nationally I got involved around 2000 and in 2003 was elected onto the Council of the Chartered Institute of Taxation where I served until 2015 when I stepped down due to the 12 year term limit. Similarly, in 2004 I joined the Policy & Technical Committee of the Association of Corporate Treasurers. I served on the committee until late 2012 when I stood down due to time pressures.
In the 1980’s I helped to set up the Asian Circle in Manchester, and assisted the Muslim Youth Foundation. In the 1990’s I helped with the initial setting up of the Ansar Finance Group, and have been a strong supporter of the Manchester Islamic Schools Trust which runs a primary school (the one my wife taught at) and two secondary schools. In the 2000’s I supported the establishment of the British Muslim Heritage Centre which is a major project in Manchester to acquire a grade 2 listed building and convert it into a residential conference centre.
From June 2008 to June 2010 I was a member of the Central Working Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain and chairman of the MCB’s Business & Economics Committee.
Towards the end of 2012 I joined the Council of Salford University. I also served on the Nominations & Governance Committee and the Audit Committee. I resigned in July 2013 as my role on the UoS Council was taking me away from London too much, and I wanted to concentrate more on my political and media commitments. It was a difficult decision, but in life it is important to proritise.
While it is important to balance time spent on work and family with voluntary commitments, my experience has been that such voluntary commitments provide excellent personal skills development and experience. They also serve to raise your profile.
In 2002 with my wife I performed the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. When I returned, I wrote a personal memoir of Hajj for my colleagues at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Looking back after eight years, I can see how much Hajj changed my life.
The most important day of Hajj is the day you stand on the plain of Arafat and request blessings from God. Standing there, I realised that after good health for myself and my family, what I wanted most was to help others, especially other Muslims, to experience the personal success that God has granted me in my life. That has become my post retirement mission for the rest of my life.
After your parents, nobody influences you more, for better or worse, than your spouse.
Unlike my father, Tahara’s father was very highly educated, being a non-practicing barrister with four degrees. She came to Britain at the age of 11, speaking no English, but got her "A" levels. Her parents had no hesitation in letting her go away from home to attend Keele University, where she graduated in Chemistry and Biology with a minor in Education.
When we got married, she was in her second year of teaching at a school in Folkestone, and completed the year. She then had 17 years at home bringing up four children, before returning to teaching on 24 hours notice to cover for an absent teacher at our daughters’ school.
Tahara had previously helped in a voluntary capacity at the Manchester Muslim Preparatory School, then in its early days. Accordingly, she moved to working there and served for one year as a class teacher. The head teacher position then became vacant, and she obtained it, serving as the school head teacher for 10 years before retiring in 2007. In her last year, the school won the award for the best Muslim primary school in the North region at the Global Peace and Unity Event, and won it again the year after she had retired.
We have four children, whose diversity is illustrated by their choices to study classics, computer software engineering, archaeology and Japanese at university. The eldest, Ibrahim is now a published author, and details of his first book "the Monster Hunter's Handbook" are on this website.
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I have often been asked why my close friends and work colleagues call me “Amin.” A few years ago I wrote it down because I was asked the question by email and I have shared it here.
When I was born, I had only a single name "Mohammedamin" as names were very simple in our village. e.g. my mother only had one name, "Riaban." When we came to the UK and I attended primary school, my name was subdivided and I attended primary school as "Ameen Mohammed" and naturally got used to being called Ameen by all my friends. (My parents only ever referred to me as Mohammedamin.)
At 11 when I went to grammar school, they wanted a birth certificate. As I didn't have one, my father swore a statutory declaration regarding parenthood and date of birth. In that, he gave my name orally, which the solicitor quite reasonably transcribed as Mohammed Amin, which is what I have been legally since. However, by then I was used to being called Amin by my friends. This was amplified by the fact that ours was a traditional grammar school, where teachers, and to a large extent also other pupils, referred to pupils by their surname only. "Noonan, where is your homework?" Even my wife and my sister call me Amin.
Amongst Pakistanis, while Mohammed is commonly used as a given name, it is usually combined with something else. e.g. I have a cousin called Mohammed Anwar, and he might be called "Anwar" by friends or "Mohammed Anwar" more formally, but not "Mohammed." However, my wife has pointed out that this is cultural rather than religious, and that Muslims from elsewhere do use "Mohammed" by itself.
However, I answer to almost anything, even "Hey you." For example people I got to know at the Cambridge University Go Society (a Japanese board game) still refer to me as "Mo."
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Since October 2009, I have worn a Union Jack lapel pin on each of my jackets. I have written a page which explains the reason.
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My motto "Each of us changes the world every day. We can choose to make it a better place." is a reminder about personal responsibility and choice.
Some people, for example Bill Gates or Nelson Mandela, change the world in ways that are completely transformative. Few of us can aspire to that. However each of us can do something to make the world better.
Sometimes this takes a great act of courage, for example the Holocaust rescuers mentioned in "The other Schindlers"; however it can be as simple as deciding never to drop litter in the streets. All of us make choices, and we are accountable to ourselves, to our communities and ultimately to God for the choices that we make.
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In early 2005, I was flabbergasted to be telephoned out of the blue and told that I was to be included in the "Asian Power 100", a list of the 100 most influential Asians in Britain. The listing, eventually published in September 2005 was compiled by Carter Andersen. Even though at that time I was on the Supervisory Board of the largest firm of accountants in the UK, it never occurred to me that I might be included in a list alongside people like Lakshmi Mittal and Amartya Sen.
In late 2006 Carter Andersen informed me that they intended to publish a similar list of the 100 most influential Muslims in the UK, the "Muslim Power 100". As well as including me in the list, they asked me to be part of the judging panel. The list was published in February 2007.
On 30 April 2010 I was included in the "Muslim Power List 2010".This is a list of 99 individuals which is categorised by people's field of activity and I was included in the Politics and Government category.
I recently learned that someone has compiled a list of British Pakistanis on Wikipedia and included me in the Business and Finance Section.
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On 7 November 2010 I visited BBC Radio Manchester to be interviewed by Mike Shaft. The main purpose of the interview was to discuss the relative closeness of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as Mike's producer had read Triangulating the Abrahamic Faiths. However the interview developed into a more wide ranging chat about how I found growing up in Manchester in the 1950's as a young immigrant of Pakistani origin and what drove me to succeed in my career.
Thanks to the BBC supplying me with the sound files, you can still listen to my interview with Mike Shaft.
On 10 December 2010 the northern edition of the Jewish Chronicle carried an article by Nathan Jeffay based on a telephone interview that I gave him.
The February 2011 edition of "Tax Adviser", the house magazine of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, carried an article about me constructing my website in retirement.
On 27 December 2011 I was visited for lunch by a Muslim I had met only once before, about 20 years ago, when I gave him some career advice. While he is originally from Manchester, he now lives in western New York state in the USA. I was surprised when he asked if he could record a video interview with me.
"Reflections" is the magazine for retired PwC partners and directors. The Winter 2012 issue carried a 750 word article about why I set up my website and how I went about it.
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I am an Islamic finance specialist, with a particular interest in how Islamic finance is treated in Western tax and regulatory systems. Until I retired at the end of 2009 I led PwC’s Islamic Finance practice in the UK as well as being a member of PwC’s four-person Global Islamic Finance Leadership Team.
Apart from PwC, I have had the following organisational involvements.
I regularly contribute articles and book chapters on Islamic finance to a range of professional and industry publications, many of which can be read on my Islamic finance page. In particular, I have written the Alternative Finance Arrangements (Islamic Finance) section of the LexisNexis Finance Act Handbook for every year since the UK started legislating in 2005, and the corresponding section in Simon’s Taxes which is the leading tax encyclopedia in the UK.
I have spoken on Islamic finance on every continent except Antarctica! As well as many presentations in the UK, some of the cities outside the UK where I have spoken are, in alphabetical order: Doha, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Greenwich Connecticut, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kazan, Kuala Lumpur, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Milan, Moscow, Muscat, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Strasbourg, Toronto, Tripoli, Tunis and Warsaw. Some of these presentations were particularly memorable:
In 2011 WikiLeaks revealed that in early 2009 the American ambassador quoted me in a cable to the State Department.
I was the lead researcher and principal author of the report "Cross border taxation of Islamic finance in the MENA region Phase One" which was published on 13 February 2013 by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.
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From both my professional career and my voluntary activities, I have developed a strong interest in how successful organisations should be run, and the boundary between management and governance. In particular my profession gave me extensive experience of client boards, both well run ones and those not so well run.
I have listed some of my specific roles below.
The partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP elect a Senior Partner who is empowered to manage the firm, appointing his Executive Board to assist him. While the Senior Partner is accountable to the partners, they do not have the time or sufficient access to confidential information to supervise the activities of management. Accordingly the partners elect 15 partners to the Supervisory Board, which is given a number of powers under the PwC Members Agreement, including the power to dismiss the Senior Partner. PwC's website explains the role of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board.
I was elected to the PwC Supervisory Board in 2003, re-elected in 2007 and served on it until retirement at the end of 2009. During that time I was also a member of PwC's Audit and Risk Committee; PwC UK is a £2 billion turnover business which is required to publish audited accounts.
The CIOT is the leading professional body in the UK for advisers dealing with all aspects of taxation. It is a charity with over 16,000 members, and a turnover of over £5 million. Its affairs are governed by its Council, and I served as an elected member of Council from 2003 until 2015 when I retired due to the application of the CIOT's term limit.
In common with most other universities, Salford University is ultimately governed by its Council, which has a majority of independent members, one of whom was me. The published accounts show the significant scale of the University's operations, with revenues of £184 million in the year to 31 July 2012. I joined the Council in November 2012 standing down early in July 2014 as attending Salford University meetings was taking me away from London for a greater amount of time than I could accept.
For 5 years from 1991 - 1996 I served as a non-executive director of Manchester TEC Ltd, the Training and Enterprise Council for Manchester, Salford, Tameside and Trafford. In this role, I also served on the TEC’s audit committee and took a particular interest in the operational independence of the internal audit team. We also dismissed the TEC's Chief Executive during the time I was on the Board.
I was involved in the organisation of chess in Manchester and subsequently nationally from around 1970 until 2014. This has included serving for two years as President of the Manchester and District Chess Association, serving in the 1980's on the Management Board of the British Chess Federation including serving as Finance Director 1984-1989.
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I also support a number of organisations by subscribing or donating where I don’t have the time to get personally involved and have listed some below.
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Each of us changes the world every day. We can choose to make it a better place.