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ISLAMIC FINANCE IN BRUNEI: Lack of Experts and Manpower

Posted by Connie R. Aponte on February 15, 2014 in Finance |

According to Asian Institute of Finance (AIF) CEO Dr Raymond Madden, the Islamic finance industry requires more professionals and skilled talents who not only have dual knowledge of both Shariah and finance, but also possess soft skills such as leadership and effective communication.

The current shortage of qualified Islamic finance professionals is a challenge that poses a serious threat to the growth and development of the industry. If this issue is not addressed immediately, talent shortage may be an impediment to growth. Brunei needs to address the limited pool of human resources to further the development of the Islamic finance sector.

Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (Unissa)is offering an undergraduate degree programme in Islamic finance. In addition, local online educational and consultancy service provider, Crescent, also developed a graduate degree in Islamic banking and finance to complement its existing list of courses dealing with the various aspects of Shariah-compliant finance. Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBS) also offered courses on Islamic banking and practice. In mid-April 2012, the UBD announced it would be reviewing its curriculum for its Islamic finance courses to ensure their content was relevant to the sector, a process that would also include seeking input from the industry itself.

The Centre For Islamic Banking and Management (CIBFM), which was established in early 2010 by the Ministry of Finance to address key challenges in Islamic financial practice and to assist in the development of human resources for the sector, as well as other institutions, was also working to deepen the pool of qualified personnel in Brunei.

CIBFM was restructured under the Autoriti Moneteri Brunei Darussalam (AMDB) with an aim to become the human talent development platform for the financial industry in Brunei Darussalam. As a Centre of Excellence, it provides professional learning and development solutions in major disciplines such as Banking, Finance, Insurance, Capital Market as well as Management and Professional Studies.

The Centre also dedicates itself to promoting Islamic banking and finance through the provision of programs at various levels.

Another development that should boost Islamic finance’s educational stocks was the announcement by Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) that it would be sponsoring a chair of Islamic banking and finance, leadership and entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies (FBEPS).

Brunei will have to wait for some time before human resource investments in Islamic finance begin to pay full dividends despite the sector already profiting from 20 years of experience and a generation of professionals that have grown up inside the industry. Limited Financial Products Islamic financial products are quite limited in Brunei but there are reasons to believe that the situation will change soon. For example, Standard Chartered Bank Brunei (SCB) has plans to introduce Islamic banking products by 2013 to cater for the growing demand in Syariah-compliant banking services in Brunei, its chief executive officer said. Standard Chartered was the first international bank in Malaysia to offer Islamic banking products in 1992 and since 2003, in the UAE, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Besides Standard Chartered Bank Brunei, the AmBank Group is also eyeing Brunei. The AmBank Group are working towards establishing an Islamic bank in Brunei. Speaking to The Brunei Times, the chairman of the AmBank Group, Tan Sri Azman Hashim, said the Bank is hoping that the Brunei government will issue the Malaysian financial house with a license.

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