Tag Archives: INCEIF

The English Premier League and Islamic Banking May Have More in Common Than We Think!

The English Premier League and Islamic Banking May Have More in Common Than We Think Encouraging Compliance as a Virtue and an Obligation

“Should Islamic Banking & Finance Companies, source service providers who meet some form of ethical or moral code?”

On the 22nd February I attended the last in a series of absolutely excellent lectures at the London School of Economics; this one was titled Global Calls for Economic Justice: the potential of Islamic finance. The general air of anticipation was electric, the attendance exceeded expectations and the organisation and content was exceptional. Speakers were Mr Mukhtar Hussain, CEO of HSBC Malaysia and Professor Volker Nienhaus, visiting Professor at Reading University.

I was sitting next to a very charming Lady from Vietnam who was undertaking Doctoral Research at Southampton University. During the lecture she asked me a very interesting question;

“Surely if all of these organisations operate under such a strict code of practice and with such a keen focus on their moral compass, they should source and use suppliers and service providers who meet a similar criteria or at least comply in some similar way?”

I had no ready response or clever retort. All I could do was agree with her sentiment. Why wouldn’t I? It seems so simple really. If this was the case imagine the impact the whole industry and its related service providers could have on communities.

Imagine if all businesses and organisations within the Islamic Banking & Finance sector were compelled to undertake a certain code. Imagine if all the training and certification providers, all the event organisers, all the magazine publishers, business consultants, technology and systems solutions providers and everyone else who essentially operates within this industry or on the periphery of it and as such profits from it, had to agree to a simple set of virtues and operational protocols?

So I began to think about this scenario and even asked on various social media sites specialising in recruitment what elements, attributes or endeavours would a recruitment company need to develop to appeal on this basis to an Islamic Finance Institution who wanted to work with service providers sharing similar virtues and morals.

There were few answers. No surprise really as people don’t generally like being asked moral questions, the old adage ‘If it isn’t broken don’t fix it’ springs to mind. However, I sat back and I considered the business I work within and what we do.

We have a preferred charity; in fact we have 2 which we donate a % of profits to. This year we didn’t send out thank you cards and pointless gifts to clients in December. Instead we bought a whole bunch of presents, wrapped them all up and donated them to a local Orphanage. We sponsor a young athlete who has great potential and we do volunteer work in the community with the unemployed, one of my colleagues even visited a women’s prison to coach them on how to find work when they were released.

It sounds like I am blowing our trumpet, and I am. When I sat and considered these things, it became apparent that inadvertently we do stand firmly on a moral context and have a positive social impact. Many companies do of course. You look at major football clubs in the Premier League in the UK for example and you don’t see the community schemes they are involved in, such as Arsenal’s support for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Okay so not all footballers and not all football organisations are virtuous or shining examples of how to live your life and be the best person you can. But many of them are, research Didier Drogba, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi and read about what they do. I also appreciate that connecting the principles of Shariah Compliance and the Teachings of Islam to football maybe flippant, please forgive me. But I am trying to reach a broad audience.

None of this is actually that radical, in many ways lots of sectors and organisations operate policies of this sort. In the UK for example Public Sector organisations will and can only work with service providers who comply with ISO 9000 / 9002 to ensure standards and a minimum level of compliance. Supermarkets such as Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and others will only work with suppliers who meet strict food safety or agricultural policies.

So why is this necessarily so different?

We may not even come close to the kind of compliance and scrutiny undertaken by those truly Shariah Compliant Institutions, but we can at least try.

How much good would be achieved? How much wealth would be shared more appropriately? What could we change positively? How many people’s lives could we impact forever?

I would be interested in any comments that can add to this discussion, elucidate ways in which this kind of idea could be achieved or of course valid points which indicate that this could never work.

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Does the ‘F’ in IFI’s Mean Futile for Graduates?

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I was recently recommended to read some articles written by Mohammed Khnifer a well-known journalist with an intricate knowledge of Islamic Finance & Banking. One of the articles I read was titled Voices of the Unheard – Salvaging the Next Generation of Islamic Bankers which was a heartfelt and illuminating insight into the frustrations of those hard-working, diligent graduates who had invested time and money in attaining Islamic Finance qualifications. Often these graduates have an underlying passion and belief similar to that demonstrated by those who study medicine or theology. An instinct that not only is a career in Islamic Finance potentially well rewarded financially, it is morally, ethically and socially the right thing to do.

It should be exciting times for individuals such as Haseeb Muhammad, who is the principle focus of the original article. This is an individual who having studied and attained an MSc, Islamic Banking and Finance found himself working for an International Hotel Chain. He describes himself as “Depressed and Demoralised”

The story shocked me, and if I am honest as a seasoned recruiter the reference to the lack of support from the recruitment industry actually made me cringe a little. Okay, I’m a Headhunter or an Executive Search & Selection Consultant as we are more commonly known, but I know that recruitment companies are usually brilliant at providing resources and advice to Graduates. Many of them have built reputations and businesses upon their graduate recruitment schemes.

It would appear that despite all the exuberant claims that the Islamic Finance industry will grow exponentially over the coming years as both Muslim and non-Muslim investors around the World look for more ethical and socially acceptable products and services, the demand for new talent is if anything stagnant. It would seem that the emerging talent is finding their entry to the emerging market a little futile. Why?

The Test

I spent an hour searching through a multitude of website and job boards (the best of which was Sharia Appointments ) for graduate / entry-level positions into Islamic Finance organisations, focusing on locations such as Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Central Europe. It was hard work, maybe even futile. Literally hundreds of recruiters out there advertising jobs but almost all were senior management or executive level roles. More often than not every link that even closely resembled a potential job opportunity turned out to be an organisation wanting to sell me a course or an event.

Mohammed Khnifer quotes a research paper by the Global International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) which concludes that within the next decade the industry is going to require c50’000 graduates. So demand should be there and visible for all to see right now. But if the current generation are experiencing these difficulties in terms of pursuing their careers, gradually the fascination and / or the inclination to pursue these courses of study will deteriorate. The next generation may not exist!

What Next

What can be done to rectify this situation? Is this a Human Resources issue or a recruitment companies opportunity?

Maybe if a Global Corporate Recruiter created a graduate recruitment division aimed firmly and squarely at Islamic Banking & Finance Graduates and the IF sector they could make a difference? Maybe if additional services were offered to students and graduates by this Recruitment Company such as interview coaching and preparation, CV writing and job search advice individuals such as Haseeb Muhammad would not feel so frustrated?

Or maybe the Islamic Banking and Finance education sector should create a specific Milk Round so that the best organisations within this exciting and rapidly growing emerging market can engage and select the best emerging talent?

I have loads of ideas on how we can address or at least begin to change this situation. But I am only one man with limited time. Like many people in the recruitment industry I find the expectation, the excitement and the anticipation of the Islamic Banking and Finance sector exhilarating. I’ve been involved to one extent or another in this sector for over 6yrs and have seen the immense development of banks and financial systems in places such as Saudi Arabia first hand. To that extent it is the responsibility of all who participate, engage and wish to be part of this industry to help it attain its potential. To make sure that the talent, the innovation and the passion that will secure its future is ready and available.