Is­lamic banks strug­gle with tal­ent dearth in Malaysia

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Bankers say the mis­match be­tween tal­ent sup­ply and de­mand in the Is­lamic bank­ing in­dus­try is char­ac­ter­is­tic of its nas­cence. Tal­ent sup­ply has strug­gled to keep up with the in­dus­try's sud­den growth in the past decade.

Mo­hamad Safri Shahul Hamid, Se­nior Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and Deputy CEO, CIMB Is­lamic said hu­man cap­i­tal de­vel­op­ment needs to be com­pre­hen­sive and holis­tic in meet­ing the re­quire­ments for all lev­els.

The hori­zon of tal­ent de­vel­op­ment so­lu­tions has to be widened to­wards at­tract­ing, de­vel­op­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ents with re­quired skills and ex­per­tise for the in­dus­try. It must also meet the spe­cific re­quire­ments of the work­force ca­reer pro­gres­sion, from the pre-em­ploy­ment stage, dur­ing em­ploy­ment and up to the lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

Tal­ent de­vel­op­ment so­lu­tions may go be­yond the cir­cle of the fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­mu­nity, to in­clude other busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties, such as le­gal fra­ter­nity, Govern­ment of­fi­cials and IT so­lu­tion providers. The ad­vance­ment of the in­dus­try is also de­pen­dent on th­ese parts of the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor.

Their train­ing needs must also be met through struc­tured train­ing pro­grammes to fa­cil­i­tate their un­der­stand­ing of the specifics of Is­lamic fi­nance and its value propo­si­tions. Malaysia is such one prime ex­am­ple in lead­ing the 'tal­ent' charge. This has cul­mi­nated in a thriv­ing Is­lamic fi­nance en­vi­ron­ment, with nu­mer­ous in­sti­tu­tions cater­ing to a wide range of in­dus­try needs.

Th­ese in­sti­tu­tions, such as In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Education Is­lamic Fi­nance (INCEIF) and the

in the In­ter­na­tional Shariah Re­search Academy for Is­lamic fi­nance (ISRA) are gain­ing world­wide recog­ni­tion in pro­duc­ing tal­ent and re­search needs to sup­port the growth of the vi­brant in­dus­try.

In putting in place tal­ent de­vel­op­ment strate­gies, the vi­sion mov­ing for­ward for hu­man cap­i­tal de­vel­op­ment in Is­lamic fi­nance is to en­sure a steady stream of com­pe­tent and ver­sa­tile tal­ent to sup­port greater in­no­va­tion and dy­namism of the Is­lamic fi­nance in­dus­try. This will re­quire the ap­proach to be com­pre­hen­sive, meet­ing the high­est stan­dards and in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the in­dus­try so that the learn­ing so­lu­tions will con­tinue to re­main rel­e­vant.

Puan Fozia Aman­ul­lah, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Al­liance Is­lamic Bank Ber­had said the mis­match be­tween tal­ent sup­ply and the tal­ent re­quire­ments of this high-growth sec­tor of fi­nance is ac­tu­ally char­ac­ter­is­tic of the in­dus­try's nascency. Though mod­ern Is­lamic bank­ing had its gen­e­sis about 40 years ago, its growth only re­ally ac­cel­er­ated in the past decade. As the in­dus­try grew, the sup­ply of tal­ent for this in­dus­try strug­gled to keep up.

While, the tal­ent gaps in man­age­ment have largely been filled with "con­verted" con­ven­tional bank pro­fes­sion­als, it has been much harder to sat­isfy the de­mand for Shariah pro­fes­sion­als and ex­perts. This has of course driven up the cost of th­ese Shariah tal­ents.

At the same time, the in­dus­try has had to con­tend with Is­lamic bank­ing pro­fes­sion­als that lack depth in Shariah, and Shariah pro­fes­sion­als who are not pro­fi­cient in high fi­nance - a com­pro­mised sit­u­a­tion that has led to var­i­ous in­tel­lec­tual con­fu­sions in the in­dus­try and cer­tainly cre­ated a drag on the po­ten­tial growth of this in­dus­try. This can­not ef­fec­tively be ad­dressed by merely send­ing th­ese pro­fes­sion­als to one or two sem­i­nars to learn up on the sub­ject mat­ters they are un­fa­mil­iar with. On the other hand, to al­low for education by os­mo­sis or on-the-job train­ing will mean a longer ges­ta­tion to­wards mas­tery (with the in­evitable trial-and-er­ror costs that would need to be borne).

Thus the prob­lem re­quires a more struc­tured ap­proach to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a feeder education sys­tem for the in­dus­try. There needs to be greater col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween academia and in­dus­try to de­fine the types of re­search and cur­ric­ula that will pro­duce the skills and ex­per­tise that the in­dus­try would need.

Pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions for Is­lamic bankers and Shariah ex­perts need to be es­tab­lished with a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem to en­cour­age con­tin­u­ous pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment in the in­dus­try. The hu­man cap­i­tal man­agers of Is­lamic banks would also need to de­fine and en­force the spe­cific tech­ni­cal com­pe­tency re­quire­ments for Is­lamic bankers.

While the in­dus­try is still a long way away from reach­ing a com­fort­able equilibrium of tal­ent sup­ply and de­mand, ef­forts to this end are al­ready afoot with the es­tab­lish­ment of ded­i­cated in­sti­tu­tions such as the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Education in Is­lamic Fi­nance (INCEIF) and var­i­ous Is­lamic bank­ing fac­ul­ties of ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

It may take sev­eral more years, maybe even decades, be­fore the sit­u­a­tion is re­dressed. As such, the sus­tain­able sup­ply of bank­ing prac­ti­tion­ers with deep un­der­stand­ing of Shariah (i.e. a "com­plete" Is­lamic banker) should re­main the on­go­ing fo­cus of the reg­u­la­tors and in­dus­try play­ers.

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