Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I started my career as an audit trainee at KPMG Fakhro. Subsequently I moved to the banking industry by joining the offshore banking unit of Arab Investment Company-Bahrain as a clerk. Then, based on my performance and the completion of my BSc degree in accounting, I was promoted to an assistant manager of the same unit after a year.
As an assistant manager in the loans and facilities department, I managed to gain a thorough knowledge in credit analysis and a good exposure to developing business relations with other financial institutions.
As CEO of Elaf Bank-Iraq, I initiated the introduction of advanced technological developments such as automated banking while preparing strategies to develop the banking culture among the Iraqi community.
What does your role involve?
As CEO, it is my duty to promote the bank and implement policies and procedures as per the regulations of the Central Bank of Iraq and international regulations to ensure a smooth and efficient level of operations.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement is transforming a loss-making entity into a profitable and competitive organization within a period of less than a year. It involved a great effort with a clear vision and strong leadership.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
In the present economic background of Iraq, the volume of imports such as capital goods and consumer items has increased significantly. As a result, trade finance transactions have become the main product and account for a significant amount of profits for the bank. In terms of the overall profitability, foreign currency transactions generate considerable profits to the bank.
What are the strengths of your business?
The main strength is the provision of good customer service. Providing customers with fast feedback whenever required, along with economical and efficient solutions for their problems, are the key strengths to win new customers and to retain them in today’s competitive environment.
As my area of business involves the international community, it is crucial to maintain international levels of customer service standards or even better levels of service. I must also maintain a strong relationship with my peers around the world.
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
The key success factor is the provision of the best services to our customers with efficient feedback and more economical charges and fees for their required services. In order to maintain a high quality level for the customers, the extra commitment by employees plays a significant role.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
After the war in Iraq, the infrastructure facilities were affected considerably. There is also a lack of advanced technology systems compared with other countries in the region. This creates a significant disadvantage for transactions processing, especially in the international context.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry in the next five years?
The industry has a huge potential to grow, not only in the Gulf region but in other parts of the world. Hence there is a requirement to innovate financial products as per Islamic customs which can be acceptable globally.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance.
In order to embrace globalization, Islamic finance must develop a standard set of policies and regulations.