The new strategy of Faisal Islamic Bank (FIB) of Sudan guides the bank toward progressively achieving its long-term goals and its new brand reflects its commitment to deliver on the promise of best serving its large-scale customer base. IFN talks to Moawia Ahmed Elamin, CEO of FIB, to find out more.
Recently, FIB developed a new strategy to drive growth for the near future. What are the most prominent features of this strategy?
The new strategy the bank developed is based upon establishing an overall framework to direct the bank toward progressively achieving its long-term objectives and to enable FIB to make the most of its strengths and redefining its position to achieve future growth and enhance the bank’s ability to adapt to the constant changes in the banking industry and increase its operational effectiveness. The bank has developed this strategy in collaboration with Deloitte, which is one of the world’s four biggest reputable companies in the industry of providing consulting services and strategy formulation.
Importantly, the bank’s customers are at the heart of this new strategy, which was fundamentally developed with the aim of providing a unique customer experience building on the most recent technical developments and the exploitation of innovation capabilities.
The essence of the bank’s new strategy lies in the Vision Statement which expresses the bank’s ambition (to be the best provider of Islamic financial solutions in a contemporary style, by excelling in customer satisfaction, with creativity and innovation driven by the spirit of youth). Thus, by developing this strategy, FIB will continue to strongly leverage technology to improve its operations and provide quality service to its customers, and accordingly, the strategy is expected to make a major shift in the bank’s positioning, and expand its products and services scope.
FIB has been rebranded recently; on what grounds was this transformative step, and what implications do you expect?
Rebranding the bank marks a significant milestone in our new strategy, providing an opportunity to reflect on everything that the original brand of the bank stood for and everything that we look forward to become as we push ahead into an exciting future.
It is noteworthy that not just our logo that we have modified. We have also changed our website, our social media platforms, our messaging and our recruitment scope which has been extended to include females, all based on the new vision and mission statement which both perfectly reflect the way we aspire to help our customers to better utilize the best-in-class financial solutions and services we deliver.
We are now using our new brand to share our commitment to deliver on the promise of best serving every customer segment uniquely.
One of the prominent features of the new vision statement of FIB is that the bank pays considerable attention to its young staff in terms of better developing their skills and further qualifying them to assume greater responsibilities. Would you shed more light on this strategy?
Investing in youth is a win-win situation for both the bank and our staff. Through our learning opportunities, our young employees can develop the skills they need to succeed in professional life, and allow fresh perspectives to drive innovation in the bank. We believe that by understanding our young staff’s skills, goals, dreams and expectations, we can offer a supportive and challenging experience that will foster talented staff retention with FIB for the longer term.
In this context, formal training and development programs are an important complement to on-the-job learning. Our employees have access to a wide range of formal learning resources and opportunities — everything from traditional classroom training to interactive web-based learning programs and other online resources, in addition to informal learning which takes place through projects and work assignments. FIB also provides the opportunity for staff to engage in external seminars and conferences, training and professional accreditation programs and substantial educational sponsorships.
We are fostering a culture of lifetime learning to ensure our staff obtain considerable experiences while developing skills for the future through innovative learning programs.
Over the course of the bank’s long history, only males were recruited. Now, the bank has opened its doors to recruit females. What prompted this step?
This step came as part of our vision to rebrand the bank and redefine its position, as we believe that hiring only males to work for the bank was not based on a solid rationale. We also took this step to promote gender equality in the workplace and to express our support to Sudanese women who have always proved themselves qualified and capable of assuming responsibilities in different aspects of life, particularly professional life.
There are some indications and signs that Sudan would be removed from the US’s list of states that sponsor terrorism. If this becomes a reality, what implications does this step have on Sudanese banks, in your opinion?
The removal of Sudan from the US’s list of states that sponsor terrorism is likely to enable Sudan to restore its trade and economic relations with the world, facilitating banking operations and procedures for exports and imports. It will also resume the normalization of the country’s communication with international financial and investment institutions, particularly for the Sudanese private sector including the banking sector, which was hugely affected by the economic embargo and the absences of international corporations’ relations with any Sudanese financial institution. Now, we really hope to see Sudan removed from this list as this step will help the Sudanese economy and the Sudanese banks build stronger relations with the international marketplace and, accordingly, facilitate conducting financial transactions internationally which will definitely help recover and revive the Sudanese economy.
What impacts did the COVID-19 pandemic have on the Sudanese banking industry during the last few months?
The concerns about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the banking industry in Sudan began as early as March, and as soon as the full lockdown was imposed nationwide in April, these concerns became a reality across all levels of the economy. Expectedly, the banking sector was affected during the lockdown, which was a direct implication on almost all sectors and different walks of life across the globe. Like any other service sector, the provision of banking services was interrupted, and office attendance was restricted to a small number of employees and limited to providing urgent and necessary services related to government supplies and the functioning of public affairs.
However, FIB took multiple steps and measures to decrease the negative implications of the pandemic on the bank’s operational activities, backed by the electronic channels the bank provides to facilitate financial transactions and enable the bank’s customers to make use of the e-services such as: e-bank, ATMs and the Fawry App. In addition, FIB’s business continuity plan has made it easier for the bank to deal with the situation by setting procedures to ensure the flow of the operational processes during such threats and disasters.
The overall effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was not as big as we expected, and we now predict that we will be able to close our financial year at the end of 2020 by making decent profits given such difficult times.