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16 April 2012

Islamic finance education is fountainhead of banking

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CEO of Inceif Daud Vicary Abdullah deliberates on the need to strike the perfect balance


By Rushdi Siddiqui


Dubai: He has been in the finance and consulting industry for more than 38 years, with significant experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Meet Daud Vicary Abdullah, the president and CEO of Inceif, the global university of Islamic finance.


Since 2002, he has focused exclusively on Islamic finance where he has contributed to a number of books on the subject and has co-authored a book on Islamic finance entitled Islamic Finance: Why it makes sense.


He is also a frequent speaker and commentator on matters relating to Islamic finance. He is a Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP), a Distinguished Fellow of the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute of Malaysia (IBFIM) and a former Board member (2003-07) of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). Prior to Inceif, he was the Global Islamic Finance Leader with Deloitte.


He was also previously acting CEO of Asian Fin-ance Bank, an Islamic bank based in Malaysia, and Managing Director of Hong Leong Islamic Bank.


Here he talks about Islamic finance and being at the top of the industry. Excerpts:


How does a seasoned management consultant and Islamic banker end up as President/CEO of Inceif?


There was an element of "right time, right place". Since its start nearly seven years ago, I have had some involvement, as a practitioner, in providing input to curricula, developing course material, taking student placements and mentoring them.


Ever since I embarked on my journey in Islamic Finance, I have always enjoyed explaining, mentoring and thinking through how things work. When the call came last year to invite me to consider this role, I was initially a little surprised, but on reflection, I felt that with all the experience that I had gained in the field, that this was a great opportunity to make a difference through a different discipline.


I have not been disappointed at all by that decision!


What lessons are applicable at Inceif from your previous work life?


Pretty much everything I have learned in a working life spanning 40 years is relevant.


In particular, I think the management and "the running a business" skills have been important. The fact, that as a former practitioner and consultant, I am familiar with many of the issues and can relate reasonably well with the industry to translate their requirements into what we need to do with the students at Inceif.


In addition, a strong relationship that I have built up with many of our faculty, over the years, has earned me the right to both discuss and implement change at Inceif.


Are you partnering with the private sector on aspects of Islamic Finance applied research? Please provide examples


We are and we are looking to do more as research is an important aspect of culture at Inceif. Here are some examples.


We have already done work on education in Takaful on behalf of a major Takaful provider.
We are currently working on a product development research project for a major international bank, looking at alternatives to sukuk.


We are currently in discussion with another major international bank on setting up a research centre to focus on the Islamic Capital Market.


As our reputation grows, we are seeing many more requests for specific research from the private sector. We also feel that Inceif has a strong obligation, with the strength of its faculty to initiate research in areas of that we feel are important to the industry. Such as Islamic monetary policy; building better risk sharing models; helping develop instruments for improving cross border liquidity etc.


What are some of the pressing issues in Islamic finance education today?


This is a large topic and there are many things to be done. Most pressing, in my view, are the following:


Developing industry driven standards for education in Islamic finance. The work of the Association of Islamic Finance Professionals (ACIFP) is both pioneering and essential if the industry is to get the type of resources it needs to fuel further growth.


Using education, to change perceptions about Islam and Islamic finance. This is not just a top down approach from universities such as Inceif, but also a bottom up approach from primary schools onwards. This involves financial literacy and building an appreciation of the Islamic finance value proposition in terms of a global move from risk shifting to risk sharing.


Encouraging greater collaboration and focus between all the stakeholders in the industry, so that actions are better orchestrated and focused on delivering results.


One of the biggest complaints of Islamic finance education institutions is the placement of graduating students in the industry, what is Inceif doing?


There are a number of things that we are doing in this space.


We are constantly reviewing our curricula to ensure relevance to the industry. Regular international industry focus groups are help to ensure that industry gets the resource that it needs. Many international players are now openly advertising that preference will be given to graduates with Inceif qualifications.


Ensuring that our programmes have ample case study material and that part of the formal delivery and discussion of our courseware is given by former and current industry practitioners.
We are also helping students to better develop their soft skills in presentations, CV writing, interview techniques. We also have dedicated resources counselling students on job placement.
Inceif maintains extensive relationships with industry leadership, and our regular calling and contact programme ensures that the placement of our students is kept top of mind.


What kind of educational bridges are you building between Malaysia and GCC generally and the UAE specifically?


We have built and continue to build collaborations with universities, regulators, rrivate sector and international development bodies in the region.


Inceif has had a steady stream of students from all GCC countries since its commencement. Students are either on campus here in Kuala Lumpur or do distance learning programmes with us.


We have a long standing agreement with the Islamic Development Bank Group for the provision of Islamic finance education throughout the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation]. We have research and education delivery collaborations with a number of universities and industry associations in the GCC, in particular Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.


Specifically in the UAE we have run executive programmes for the regulator and are focusing on building collaborative arrangements with key universities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


What would you like your legacy at Inceif to state?


I would like it to state that Inceif contributed significantly to the increase in supply and improvement in quality of human capital for the Islamic finance industry, globally.


[Rushdi Siddiqui is Global Head of Islamic Finance and OIC Countries at Thomson Reuters. Opinions expressed here are the writer's own and do not reflect those of his own organisation or those of Gulf News.]


(Courtesy: Gulf News)

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a fascinating post anything to make the Islamic banking and financial services more appealing to the main stream markets would surely be an improvement to current markets.

    Thank you for sharing this post.

    ReplyDelete