Dr Bernd van Linder
Acting managing director
Saudi Hollandi Bank
Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
Originally, treasurer of the bank I was asked to take on the responsibilities of managing director in May this year.
What does your role involve?
The bank operates a Shariah compliant window called `Al Yusr’, and offers a full range of Islamic products across all business lines. The bank employs over 1,600 staff and operates 43 branches, eight ladies sections, 22 preferred banking centers and 217 ATMs providing banking services throughout the kingdom.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
If you would like me to mention one achievement, it would have to be the issue of the first Tier II capital Mudarabah Sukuk at the end of 2008. In very difficult market circumstances, we managed to successfully launch this product, which was a first in the region. Further proof that this was a special achievement is the awards we won for this issue.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
Also worth mentioning is the range of investment funds we offer through our investment banking subsidiary, Saudi Hollandi Capital. The Al Yusr Saudi Equity Fund has been the best performing fund in the market during the current year. I believe that this is an excellent achievement in very tough market conditions.
What are the strengths of your business?
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
At Saudi Hollandi, we consider ourselves fortunate to have a team of highly qualified, well-motivated staff.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
The prime example of the latter is the sizeable investment program committed to by the Saudi government. The bank needs to make sure that it is prepared and equipped to make the most of the opportunities that will present themselves over the coming years.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry in, say, the next five years or so?
As such, I expect the Islamic finance industry to continue to grow and prosper over the coming years. The demand for Shariah compliant products will continue to increase, particularly in countries where the industry today is less developed.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance.