Could you provide a brief journey of how you arrived where you are today?
I joined HSBC Amanah in May 2007 from Saudi British Bank (SABB) where I had been general manager of operations and processing since 1998. Prior to that, I had held various senior positions within SABB for nearly two decades in operations, retail banking, corporate banking and in credit.
What does your role involve?
I am responsible for HSBC Amanah’s business globally to ensure that all our key geographies, including the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific and the UK are aligned with the global business strategy. I also lead a central team based in Dubai which provides functional oversight for all the Amanah businesses and acts as the center of excellence for Shariah, development of Islamic finance systems as well as branding and marketing initiatives.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
HSBC Amanah has launched its Islamic Micro Finance Initiative, which in effect extends the reach of the Islamic finance to a new segment of society and provides Islamic finance industry with a totally new paradigm. I feel extremely proud to have led the launch of this initiative by HSBC Amanah. HSBC Amanah has also teamed up with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to support the CIMA Islamic finance certificate initiative, which is a timely step for developing the right skill set for the industry. In addition, I feel extremely proud because due to hard work and perseverance of our team, HSBC Amanah won the accolade as the Best International Islamic Bank this year.
Which of your products/services deliver the best results?
HSBC Amanah offers Islamic banking solutions which combine our financial expertise with our enduring values. Our financial products and solutions are well received, be it in retail banking, corporate and investment or private banking. We have been at the forefront of introducing solutions through technology to our customers and this combination of technology, with our focused product offering, has resulted in a winning combination.
What are the strengths of your business?
Our key differentiator is our strong brand that has become synonymous with trust, integrity and reliability. Innovation is a key strength of HSBC Amanah. We are always working towards improving the quality of our product propositions which includes enhancing customer experience through increased education level of our sales force and setting up of an efficient technology platform that can facilitate Shariah-based financial solutions.
Our constant drive for innovation never compromises on the Shariah compliance of our propositions. HSBC Amanah brings together the largest team of any international Islamic financial services provider with more than 300 bankers in 20 countries and beyond. We are widely recognized as a market leader in terms of global reach, innovative products and services and our investment in industry building initiatives.
What are the factors contributing to the success of your company?
At HSBC Amanah, our ultimate goal is to meet the growing needs of our customers for Shariah compliant products and services. We have experienced Islamic finance teams across our key geographies dedicated to research and product development. All HSBC Amanah products and transactions are developed in consultation with independent Shariah scholars and approved by them prior to distribution.
With the global resources of the HSBC Group including technology, distribution capability and market knowledge at its disposal and the largest Islamic finance team of any international bank, HSBC Amanah is uniquely positioned to understand, structure and distribute financial services that are compatible with the requirements of Shariah.
What are the obstacles faced in running your business today?
Raising the standards of the Islamic finance industry is dependent on advanced research and development on the one hand and on increased education and awareness among the public on the other. At HSBC Amanah, we attach greater importance to both aspects.
The regulatory frame work in many countries needs to appreciate the peculiarities and requirements of the Islamic finance industry. Although there is a growing awareness of this issue, there needs to be active engagement by the regulators to provide an enabling environment for the growth of the industry.
Where do you see the Islamic finance industry in, say, the next five years?
Islamic banking is an industry that is still evolving and with a maturing client base and increasingly demanding competitive products, along with increasing number of Islamic finance players in the market, the market place is ripe for the development of newer products and instruments. With increased investment and focus by the Islamic finance players, it is expected that Islamic finance will come up with products that live up to the high standards of Islamic clients, both in terms of Shariah compliance and competitiveness.
Name one thing you would like to see change in the world of Islamic finance?
The industry needs to focus on research and development, which would ensure the long term sustainability and viability of the industry and eventually result in shifting the business model from a Shariah compliant model to a Shariah based model.