Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I spent 21 years in the financial services industry specializing in superannuation. Over time I moved from the business to IT, also moving from operational to senior management roles.
From a community perspective, I am fairly involved, especially working with students and youths as well as in mosque projects. I feel that investing in the Australian Muslim community will ensure that future generations have access to opportunities that do not compromise on their Shariah principles.
I became a member of MCCA 10 years ago as its concept of being a leading provider of Islamic finance appealed to me greatly. In January 2007, I joined the MCCA board and in late May 2008, I was appointed its managing director.
What does your role involve?
My role at present involves demutualising the co-operative as MCCA has become too large to remain a co-operative. This will involve close interaction with lawyers, accountants and regulators.
At the same time I will be looking at a new business strategy for MCCA. From then the intention is to develop operational strategies that we will deliver on the business strategy. This demutualization will lead to attaining us the AFSL (Australian Financial Services License) from ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).
As you know, the cost of funds is becoming very expensive globally, and this is having an impact on MCCA. For this reason we need to remain focused on what is important and to deliver this efficiently. With the help of the management team the intention is do just that.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
In my first few weeks within MCCA, after reviewing existing business strategies and getting a feel for the local potential market and international trends in Islamic banking, I hope to develop an appropriate business strategy to take MCCA into the next era of Islamic banking in Australia.
In the course of my career, one of my greatest achievements to date has been to save AU$15 million (US$14.3 million) per year for a company by relocating the operations and systems departments to another subsidiary 4,000 km away.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
MCCA is focusing on our internal Tamleek products. Using members’ funds, MCCA finances the purchase of a property, giving us greater control on the disclosure of Shariah compliant terms and conditions.
What are the strengths of your business?
Our people. Our business is not just about providing Islamic finance solutions but to also understand the community’s unique requirements. These people are also aware of the prevailing laws within Australia which can assist in the development of new products. Of course, what attracted me to the organization in the first place is that MCCA was established 18 years ago and remains an iconic brand within the Australian Muslim community.
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
There are two main factors. Our brand which is well established for providing Shariah-based products; and the support of our community, their desire to see MCCA succeed for many generations to come.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
The current laws have stringent disclosure rules and a very strict compliance framework – this restricts our ability to develop new products and to keep costs down. Another obstacle is access to funding. Our waiting list for Muslims requiring funding from local member sources is rather extensive. For this reason we have had to arrange external funding to satisfy the demand; however the compliance for these external funders can be rather complex. The credit squeeze is also posing some challenges for our business and we are looking at ways we can overcome this to make the customer service journey for our members quicker and smoother.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry, maybe in the next five years?
The Islamic finance industry is currently an untapped opportunity in Australia. The next five years will see this industry in Australia flourish. Hopefully I can see MCCA as the first Islamic bank in Australia.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance?
More investment towards educating the world as to why and how Islamic banking is different from conventional banking. This may lead to making Islamic finance products a viable alternative to those of conventional banks for Muslims and non-Muslims alike globally.
MCCA is a co-operative owned by its members. Since beginning operations in 1989, MCCA has cemented its position at the forefront of Shariah compliant finance and investment in Australia.